Kerala Style Fish Fry

Easy, Serves 4, Prep time: 30 mins + 30 mins marination time.

This recipe is particularly close to my heart. Once in a blue moon, when my grandmother found the right kind of fish, we would be treated to a traditional Kerala-style fish fry. Simple, wholesome and flavourful, this dish made for an excellent accompaniment to our afternoon sambar. Generations of her descendants have attempted it, but never quite managed to make it the way she did. This, is my humble attempt at doing it justice.


  1. Fish, 800 gm or 1 large
  2. Ginger garlic paste, 2 tbsp
  3. Red chilli powder, 1 tbsp
  4. Turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp
  5. Ground black pepper, 1 tsp
  6. Curry leaves, finely chopped, 2-3 sprigs
  7. Salt, 1 tsp
  8. Vinegar, 1 tbsp
  9. Coconut oil, 20 ml+20 ml


  1. For the fish, feel free to choose any cut of any fish (Tilapia, karimeen, indian salmon, surmai to name a few). You can use the whole fish, slice it or even fillet it*. We decided to use fresh white pomfret and cut it into slices after thouroughly washing and cleaning it.

* The time of cooking will differ depending on the cut.

2. To prepare the marinade for your fish, combine all your ingredients in a bowl with 20 ml good quality coconut oil. Apply this thick masala all over the fish (we suggest getting your hands dirty and massaging the marinade into the fish gently). Once completely coated, cover the fish and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Post marination, remove the fish from the regrigerator and let it thaw for 5 minutes. In the meantime, heat 20 ml coconut oil in a non-stick pan on a medium flame. Once sufficiently hot, gently place your marinated fish into the pan (make sure not to overcrowd the pan) and sear for 4-5 minutes on one side. Gently flip the fish slices and cook* on the other side for 3-4 minutes.

* We suggest basting the fish slices by pouring the masala infused hot oil over it during the cooking process to keep it moist and flavourful.

4. Once fried, transfer your fish slices from the pan to a plate, using a flat slotted spoon. Serve your kerala style fish fry with a wedge of lemon and devour with parippu (dal) and steamed rice, like we did!

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