Fish Curry – Red curry with Tilapia


Fish curry

This dish is for all those who love seafood. For those who don’t like fish in particular, may also like tilapia as it is very mild in flavor. A true Mumbaiite can’t live without fish…they are literally like fish out of water LOL. Its quite a treat to enjoy a variety of fish in Mumbai, whether it is pan fried, steamed or served in a curry. Fish can be pan fried plain or covered in a spiced batter or stuffed with some amazing chutneys & then pan fried. There are so many mouth-watering curries prepared in different styles depending on the region & its specialty spice combinations. Of all the curries, the ones containing coconut taste the best. I am not particularly fond of fresh or desiccated coconut as a garnish but when it is ground with other spices or used in coconut milk form it takes the dish to a whole new level. It is celebrated even in small amounts! ūüôā Coconut is commonly used in coastal cuisines because of¬†the easy availability of coconuts. Imagine yourself dining on a beach under a thatched roof- watching the sunset while enjoying a variety of fish dishes in the gentle, salty breeze!!! A perfect seafood dinner shall I say? ūüėČ

I love coconut in the form of coconut milk, which is also used in the Thai cuisine. But use coconut in small amounts as it is high Saturated fats.

Fish is also steamed in banana leaf and served with chutneys. Baking fish is more of a western style of cooking. I don’t enjoy deep fried fish but it is quite common in India. I feel that most of the time the flavor of the fish is lost or it becomes tough & dry. I usually satisfy¬†my fish cravings whenever I am back home & request my mom to make her specialties. However, to vet my appetite I have learned to cook tilapia & cod in Indian or Thai style or salmon in a western style. Pan frying or making curries or stews are some simple & quick ways to cook fish.

In the US, if you are concerned about Mercury content of fish, here are some ways that you can learn to make safe choices:

  1. National Resources Defense Council has compiled a guide based on data from FDA & EPA : click here.
  2. American Heart Association lists recommendations, benefits vs risks of consuming fish : click here.
  3. Monterey Bay Aquarium advises on what farmed or fished varieties of fish have less impact on the environment: Seafood Watch Enter the name of the fish and you will see the recommendations.

Fish is a very good source of protein, low in fat, and some varieties contain omega 3 fatty acids which are good for your heart. Even though I have used coconut milk in this recipe, it is a reduced fat version and is used in small amount for 6 servings. 

Per serving: 117 cals | 11 g protein | 1 g fiber | 7 g total fat | 1.75 g saturated fat

Ingredients (6 servings)

3 tilapia fillets, each cut into 4 pieces

1/2 onion, finely chopped*

2 tomatoes, pureed

1″ ginger, chopped & mashed or 2 tsp ginger paste

1/8 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp red chili powder

1/4 tsp coriander powder

1/2 cup of Trader Joe’s light¬†coconut milk (65% reduced fat)**

1/2 tsp sugar

2 tbsp oil

salt to taste

cilantro & a few diced pieces of red bell pepper for garnish

For pan-frying tilapia

ground black pepper & salt to taste

cooking spray or 2 tsp oil

* 1/2 onion in US= 1 red onion in India

** If low fat coconut milk is not available then use 1/4 cup of regular coconut milk


  1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a steel pot and add the chopped onion. Saute till it becomes light brown on medium heat.
  2. In the mean time, dice and blenderize two tomatoes to make a smooth puree. Wash & cut each tilapia filet into 4 pieces.
  3. Add the puree after the onions turn light brown. Let the puree thicken (reduce) on medium heat for about 2 minutes.
  4. Then add the dry ingredients & mashed ginger and mix well. Saute for a minute or two.
  5. Now, add the low fat coconut milk and 1- 1.5 cups water and mix well. Let the curry simmer on low heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  6. While the curry is simmering, pan fry the tilapia fillets. Use a cooking spray to lightly grease a non-stick pan and heat it. Then transfer the fillet pieces to the pan. Sprinkle some salt and freshly ground pepper. Flip over the fillet pieces when one side is done. When both sides are light brown, transfer them to the curry.
  7. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and diced red bell pepper or chopped cilantro.
  8. Serve hot with cooked Basmati rice, or whole wheat rotis or dosa. Add a refreshing side salad of cut vegetables drizzled with vinegar/lemon juice & seasoned with salt & pepper.
  9. Enjoy!

Fish curry 3


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