Goa Fish Curry

I used to agonise over various recipes in books, and toil over it for hours, until one of my Goan friends killed herself laughing - Susan, she said - Goans are the laziest housewives in the world = just throw everything into a pan and simmer till done.. so, I did..and here is the recipe for throwing everything in a pan.  Well. not quite, as I like to cook the masala a bit thoroughly.
This is one dish that can be cooked in a tagine.

You need:
500 g fish cut into steaks or chunks, not fillets -  seer, spanish mackerel or rahu, salmon
200 ml coconut milk, or the milk from one coconut, or half a 400 ml tin
3 onions chopped fine
10 pods of garlic crushed roughly
2 inches ginger, grated
lime sized ball of tamarind
2 teaspoons cummin or jeera powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
half a teaspoon chilli powder
Sprig of curry leaves
coarse sea salt
Chopped green coriander to garnish


  1. Soak tamarind in hot water. 
  2. Add 200 mls of water to 100 mls of the coconut cream to make a thin milk. Set aside the 100 mls of thick milk.
  3.  Place large shallow pan on heat.  Pour in 4 tablespoons of water.
  4. When sizzling, add the chopped onions and fry at high heat, stirring to prevent it burning. Turn down the heat. Cover the pan.
  5. When the onions are soft and semi-transparent, add the ginger and garlic. Stir briskly. The mixture will start to brown. Splash water to release any toasted layers at the bottom of the pan, and keep stirring. This is what browns the mixture, without any oil.
  6. Add curry leaves, turmeric, cummin and chilli powder. Mix in well.
  7. Pour in the thin milk and stir thoroughly. Let the heat remain on a simmer, and do not cover the pan again.
  8. Add the fish, layering in gently, but mixing into the simmering liquid masala. Add the salt.
  9. Squeeze out the tamarind, removing the seeds and fibre, leaving a thick pulpy liquid.
  10. Add to the fish and masala. Shake the vessel to mix it in.
    Tamarind slows down the rate of cooking. The masala needs to cook thoroughly, but the fish will start disintegrating if overcooked.
  11. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then.
  12. Add the rest of the coconut milk, sprinkle over the chopped green coriander, and turn off the heat.
Fishing boats at the Jetty in Chapora Village - where we bought all our fish every evening straight off the boats.
Serve with white rice and cabbage subzi, as shown here. Also note the weapons of choice, spoon and fork. Use the fork to shovel, er, gently ease, the food into the spoon and then eat. I never lay the table with knives and forks