Alleppey fish curry with deep-fried aubergine

Aktar Islam creates a South Indian dish of pan-fried sea bass with spiced aubergine and a green mango curry
Alleppey fish curry with deep-fried aubergine
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Effort: medium


For the Alleppey sauce

  • 1 ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • ¼ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 3 sun-dried chillies
  • 2.5 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 small unripe green mango, finely diced
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp tamarind pulp
  • squeeze lime juice

For the aubergine

  • oil, for deep-frying
  • 6 small Indian aubergines, (see Cooks tip)
  • 1 tbsp corn oil
  • ¼ tsp coriander seeds
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ medium onions, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp garlic ginger paste
  • pinches turmeric
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder, such as deghi
  • ½ medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
  • sprinkle chaat masala

For the sea bass

  • 4 large fillets sea bass, skin scored
  • turmeric
  • chilli powder, such as deghi
  • rice flour, for dusting
  • coconut oil, for frying

Tips and Suggestions

Golf ball-shaped Indian brinjal aubergines are smaller than normal and can be found at most leading supermarkets.
Deghi or deghi mirch as it is some times known, is the Hindi name for paprika.


1. For the Alleppey sauce: heat coconut oil in a heavy-based pan, add the mustard seeds and allow to pop.

2. Add onion, curry leaves, chillies and ginger, sprinkle with salt and cook until the onions soften and brown slightly.

3. Add turmeric and chilli powder, stir then add the water and cook for another 30 seconds until the spices have lost their rawness.

4. Add mango and curry leaves, stir, then add the coconut milk and boil for 1 minute. Reduce the heat and add the tamarind pulp, then simmer for 15-20 minutes.

5. Finish with lime juice and season to taste. Remove from the heat and keep warm until needed.

6. For the aubergine: cut the aubergines in half, score the flesh with a knife and deep-fry at 180C for around 3 minutes until cooked through and softened.

7. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat and add all the seeds. Toss the onion in, sprinkle with salt and cook until soft.

8. Add the garlic and ginger paste, turmeric, chilli powder and tomato. Dilute with a drop of water and cook until for a minute or two until the spices have lost their rawness.

9. Place the fried aubergine in the Alleppey sauce and coat evenly. Garnish with the coriander and chaat masala.

10. For the sea bass: rub the skin of the fillets with enough tumeric to lightly coat and then sprinkle on a little chilli powder and dust the whole fillet with rice flour. Season with salt.

11. Heat the coconut oil in a pan and then add the fish, skin side down. Press down lightly to stop the fish from curling and fry for around 3-4 minutes until the skin is crisp. Flip over and cook for a further minute or two until the fish is cooked through.

12. To serve, ladle the sauce into a dipped plate, place the aubergine in the centre and balance the fish on top.

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