Keralan Fish Curry with Lemon Rice

Ravinder Bhogal cooks a curry typical of the South Western state of India, Kerala with turmeric marinated monkfish and king prawns in a coconut sauce
Keralan Fish Curry with Lemon Rice
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes plus 30 mins marinating
  • Effort: easy


  • 1 kg monkfish, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only

For the Sauce

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 8 cloves, ground to a fine powder
  • 15- 20 fresh curry leaves
  • pinch of asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 1 red chilli, seeds removed and sliced into circles
  • 5 cm cm piece of ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 x400ml can of coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp concentrated tamarind
  • 400 ml water
  • 500 g large raw prawns, shelled and de-veined
  • Small bunch coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 large lemon, juice only

For the Lemon Rice

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • pinch asafoetida
  • 1 dried chilli
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 400 glasses basmati rice, cooked


1. Put the chunks of monkfish into a non-metallic mixing bowl, add the lemon juice and turmeric and season with salt. Mix well to coat the fish pieces and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.

2. For The Sauce: heat the oil in a large wok until smoking then add the mustard seeds. As soon as these start popping add the cloves, curry leaves and asafetida, stir briefly then add the cumin, onions and some salt. Fry over a gentle heat until the onions have softened and turned pale pink.

3. Add the chilli and ginger and stir-fry for a few minutes more, sprinkle in the turmeric and sugar and stir for another minute. Whisk the tamarind into the coconut milk as its acidity can sometimes cause it to curdle, then pour the mix into the pan along with the water.

4. Bring the mix up to the boil then reduce the heat and add the fish. Simmer gently for 5 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the rice.

5. For the Lemon Rice: heat the oil in a pan and add the asafetida, followed by the chilli and mustard seeds, when these start popping add the curry leaves, lemon zest and juice and turmeric. Tip the cooked rice into the pan and cook, stirring constantly until heated through.

6. Add the prawns to the fish and cook for a further 3 minutes until the fish is cooked through and the prawns have turned pink. Remove from the heat, stir in the coriander and pour the lemon juice over the top. Serve immediately with a bowlful of the lemon rice.

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