Masala Fish

A simply divine Masala Fish recipe courtesy of my Aunt. This recipe is absolutely packed with flavour. The fish is marinaded and cooked and then added to an incredibly spice infused masala sauce. A ridiculously EASY recipe made using only store cupboard ingredients. 

This is a firm family favourite, along with Chana Dal with ChickenChicken Akni, One Pot Chicken and Rice, Lemon Aloo Tikki.

Fish in a Masala Sauce with Spring Onions and Coriander on top in a large pan

 

Masala Fish

So I was doing some research into Masala Fish and its origins. To be honest, there are too many variations to count and too many regional differences to say that there is one definitive recipe for Masala Fish. However I did come across other names for Masala Fish type recipes:

  • Fish Fry Masala
  • Fish Masala Recipe
  • Fish Fry Recipe
  • Fish Curry Masala
  • Fish Tikka Masala
  • Indian Fish Fry
  • Masala Fish Recipe Indian Style

My Love of Masala Fish

I have a lot of love for Masala Fish and I have tried many variations. Some in restaurants but mainly from the hands of women who have been making it for years. Every recipe I have tried has been special in its own way. This particular one, is a recipe from my Aunt who brought it with her to a gathering. I couldn’t stop eating it, so of course I asked her for the recipe.

What Fish works best?

Any firm white fish will work in this recipe, but nothing too overpowering. I tend to make it with fillets that are around 1.5 – 2cm thick at the most. Make sure your fish has had the bones removed.

Good options for fish are:

  • Cod
  • Pollock
  • TIlapia

Not good for:

  • Skin on Fish
  • Salmon
  • Thin delicate fish like Dover Sole

Thicker fish fillets – You will need to adjust the cooking time for the fish. 

Frozen fish fillets – thaw fish completely, pat dry and remove as much water as possible before cooking.

Tips for cooking Fish on the Stove

  1. Your pan doesn’t need to be non stick but it does need to be heavy duty and good quality –   A thin, cheap non stick pan means the fish has harsher and closer contact to the stove. So the fish browns unevenly and sticks in places. A heavy duty pan heats better, and more evenly, which means the fish cooks better.

2. Heat the pan first before adding the oil – Heat a dry pan, and as soon as you see a little smoke, add oil (it will heat very quickly because the pan will be very hot), swirl to coat base, then immediately add the fish. 

3. Don’t move until the fish releases naturally – Most fish fillets stick to the pan straight away but they will release naturally as they cook. For me the magic number is 3 minutes but test by nudging a little and try again 15 seconds later if it is still sticking. 

5. Shake off excess marinade and save it to add to the Masala sauce – Having too much sauce going into hot oil is never a good idea but wasting all that marinade, doesn’t make sense either. So..save it and add it to the masala sauce instead.

6. Cut fish fillets in half – This just makes it easier to handle and flip the fish.

How to make Masala Fish

Ingredients set out in plates and on a dark background Fish marinaded in spices in a grey tinMarianne the fish in Lemon, Garlic, Ginger, Green Chilli, Cumin, Coriander, Turmeric, Red Chilli, Salt and Pepper. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Fish being shallow fried

Shallow fry in a little oil for 2-3 minutes per side.

Fried Fish in a plate

Onions being fried in oil with wooden spatula

Fry onions, then add Ginger, garlic and green chilli.

Onions being cooked in oil, with garlic, ginger and green chilli

Tomato curry in pan with wooden spatula

Cook and then add Passata and Tomato Puree.Stir in the dry spices and allow to cook covered.

Masala added to tomato mix in pan and being stirred with wooden spatula

 

Masala with most of water burnt off in pan with wooden spatula

Add the fish, top with coriander and spring onion. 

Enjoy with rice, roti, salad.

Masala Fish in pan with coriander and spring onion

What makes a good curry?

Shop brought pastes and sauces don’t come close to a home cooked curry. For me, the main ingredient needed for a good curry is time and not always oodles of it, just allow your ingredients to release their natural flavour and decide what you want from them. E.g. Onions –  Caramelised or just braised.

Take your time – As I mentioned, timing is everything when making any masala/curry. You just need to allow enough time to allow ingredients such as onions to cook properly, to get the most flavour out of them.

Powdered spices should be added towards the end of cooking – Spices like Garam Masalas should be added towards the end of cooking time. The cooking process reduces the flavour of dried spices and over cooking them can make your curry taste a little bitter.

Unleash the Spice Flavour – In most cases, heating whole spices in hot oil first to unleash their flavour is ideal. Choose from cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, cloves etc. for the perfect base to your dish. In this recipe, I haven’t used whole spices to save on time but have added them towards the end of cooking time in the form of powdered Garam Masala. 

Season to taste – Tomato based curries can benefit from a little sugar to take away the acidity and a pinch of salt can also balance the dish. Many Passatas and Tinned Tomatoes have Citric Acid in them and are often a little too sour. A pinch of sugar usually helps with this. This is something that you would have to assess yourself because it depends on the brand you use and individual taste.

Garnish – Transform your curry with your favourite toppings. A flavoured oil or Wagaar is used for Daal based recipes. Spring Onions, Fried Onions, Toasted sesame seeds, Desiccated coconut, Fresh Coriander all add another layer of depth and texture to your recipe.

Don’t forget to Review

Anyway here is that lovely Masala Fish recipe. It is a recipe that was given to me by my husbands aunt who makes the best food.

This is my ideal dinner recipe because it is great with a salad, great with roti AND great with rice. In other words, you can’t go wrong. This is a quick naan recipe that you can serve it with. I also love it with Rice, Cumin Papad and Lime Pickle.

**If you make this recipe, please let me know by rating/commenting/sharing. It really helps to get eyes on the recipe and helps us to serve you better.** 

**This recipe was updated on 11th October 2019 with more Garlic, Ginger and Tomato.**

 

Masala Fish in a pan topped with spring onions and coriander
5 from 5 votes
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Masala Fish

A simply divine Masala Fish recipe courtesy of my Aunt. This recipe is absolutely packed with flavour. The fish is marinaded and cooked and then added to an incredibly spice infused masala sauce. A ridiculously EASY recipe made using only store cupboard ingredients. 

Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Easy Curry, Fish, Fish Fry Recipe, FIsh MAsala Recipe, Fish Tikka Masala, Indian Curry, Indian Fish Fry, Masala Fish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Marinading 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 196 kcal
Author Safira

Ingredients

  • 800 g Firm White Fish I use Cod/Tilapia/Pollock/Basa

Marinade

  • 1 Lemon Juice Only
  • 4 cloves Garlic Crushed or finely grated
  • 2 - 3 Green Chillies Pierced
  • 1/2 inch Ginger Crushed or finely grated
  • 1.5 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 2 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp Oil

Masala

  • 2 - 3 tbsp Oil
  • 1 large Onion finely sliced
  • 4 cloves Garlic Crushed or finely grated
  • 1 inch Ginger Crushed or finely grated
  • 1 Green Chilli Pierced
  • 200 g Tomatoes Pureed or use Passata
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1.5 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1.5 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Curry Powder Optional - I used Madras Curry Powder
  • 1 flat tsp Garam Masala Powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Spring Onions Chopped into fine rings
  • Coriander to garnish

Instructions

Marinade

  1. Marinade the fish in all the marinade ingredients minus the oil for at least half an hour.

  2. Heat the pan over medium/high until you see smoke, then add the oil. Once hot add the fish and fry for 2 - 3 minutes each side. Resereve the leftover mariande and set fish aside.

  3. In the same oil, add the onion, allow to cook until the onions are lightly caramlised. About 8 - 10 minutes.

  4. Stir in the garlic, ginger and green chilli. Cook for 2 minutes.

  5. Pour in the tomato, along with the leftover marinade and tomato pureee. Allow to come to a simmer and cook covered on low heat for 10 miniutes or until the oil begins to seperate from the masala.

  6. Turn the heat up a little. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, red chilli powder. Cook for a further 6 - 7 minutes.

  7. Stir in the garam masala and curry powder if using as well as the salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute before adding the Fish into the masala.

  8. Top with the spring onions. Simmer for a further 2-3 minutes and remove from the heat. 

  9. Garnish with Corainder and enjoy.

Recipe Notes

1. Fish: Any firm white fish will work in this recipe, but nothing too overpowering. I tend to make it with fillets that are around 1.5 - 2cm thick at the most. Make sure your fish has had the bones removed.

Good options for fish are Cod, Basa, Pollock, TIlapia

  • Thicker fish fillets - You will need to adjust the cooking time for the fish. 
  • Frozen fish fillets - thaw fish completely, pat dry and remove as much water as possible before cooking.

2. Cooking fish on the stove -

  • Your pan doesn't need to be non stick but it does need to be heavy duty and good quality -   A thin, cheap non stick pan means the fish has harsher and closer contact to the stove.So the fish browns unevenly and sticks in places. A heavy duty pan heats better, and more evenly, which means the fish cooks better.
  • Heat the pan first before adding the oil – Heat a dry pan, and as soon as you see a little smoke, add oil (it will heat very quickly because the pan will be very hot), swirl to coat base, then immediately add the fish. 
  • Don't move until the fish releases naturally – Most fish fillets stick to the pan straight away but they will release naturally as they cook. For me the magic number is 3 minutes but test by nudging a little and try again 15 seconds later if it is still sticking. 
  • Shake off excess Marinade and save it to add to the Masala sauce - Having too much sauce going into hot oil is never a good idea but wasting all that marinade, doesn't make sense either. So..save it and add it to the masala sauce instead.
  • Cut fish fillets in half - This just makes it easier to handle and flip the fish.
  • Tomato based curries can benefit from a little sugar to take away the acidity and a pinch of salt can also balance the dish. Many Passatas and Tinned Tomatoes have Citric Acid in them and are often a little too sour. A pinch of sugar usually helps with this. This is something that you would have to assess yourself because it depends on the brand you use and individual taste.

 

 

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24 thoughts on “Masala Fish

  1. Such lovely flavours , this sounds delicious… I’m in landlocked Hungary so seafood is real tough for me to get hold of, do you reckon the flaovurs would work with something like catfish?

    • Great idea to try with haddock! I imagine it would work wonderfully with chicken breast too and probably can be made in one pan, rather then having separate steps! 🙂 Thankyou

  2. 5 stars
    We eat a ton of fish so I’m always looking for more fish recipes! This Masala fish is so easy, tender and full of big flavors! We all loved it! Thanks!

  3. This looks super delicious! I cook a lot with basa and always looking for different recipe to try. Definitely trying it this weekend!

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