Let Hoppers’ Karan Gokani show you how to serve up the ultimate fish curry
Fish curries are staples in both Sri Lanka and south India. Given the proximity to the sea and the locals’ dependence on it for so much of their diet and livelihood, one can find hundreds of recipes for fish curries. Every region and household cooks them differently and, most vitally, different fish can lend a different flavour to the same curry, transforming it into something unique.
Personally, I love using whole fish or steaks of oily fish in my curry, as the bones prevent the fish from overcooking and also impart a richer flavour — a bit like cooking meat on the bone. Mackerel, sardines and the like work beautifully with spice, but if you’re after something a little less powerful, white fish such as sea bass, hake, halibut and pollock work very well, too.
Monkfish is a great option if price is not a concern and you prefer a meatier fish. I don’t like tuna or salmon in my curry as I feel they are both fish that are best eaten raw. We developed this recipe in the early days of Hoppers Soho back in 2015, and have loved it since. The addition of gorakha is very common in a lot of seafood recipes and gives the curry a distinct tangy and smoky flavour.
500g white fish, cut into 100g steaks or fillets
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
10-12 curry leaves
1 medium onion, finely sliced
½ inch ginger, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp chilli powder
1½ tsp ground coriander
3-4 pieces of gorakha
1 small, ripe tomato, finely sliced
150ml fresh fish stock or water
120ml thick coconut milk
2 green chillies, sliced in half lengthways (optional)
Salt, to taste
1. Marinate the fish pieces in ½ tsp of turmeric and a large pinch of salt for about 15-30 minutes.
2. Heat the coconut oil over a medium heat in a wok or saucepan. Add the mustard and fenugreek seeds. Once they splutter, stir in the curry leaves, onions, ginger and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring regularly for 6-8 minutes or until the onions have softened and are translucent.
3. Add all of the dry spices and gorakha. Cook for a minute and add the tomatoes. Continue cooking for
5-6 minutes adding a splash of water or stock from time to time if the sauce begins to stick to the pan.
4. Add the remaining fish stock or water along with the fish. Cook uncovered for 5-6 minutes over a medium-low heat. Avoid stirring the fish too much as it can break.
5. Add the coconut milk and green chillies and simmer gently for a further 4-5 minutes on medium heat until the sauce thickens into a silky consistency. Add more stock, water or coconut milk if you prefer the curry thinner.
6. Season to taste and serve immediately. Garnish with some mustard-chilli oil and freshly crushed curry leaves.