This fragrant dish of fish poached in a tamarind and coconut-infused bath sees traditional flavour combinations of Kashmiri cuisine, in its use of sugar and Kashmiri chilli powder.






Skill level

Average: 2.8 (2 votes)


  • 60 ml (¼ cup) mustard oil
  • 2½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • ⅓ cup curry leaves, plus extra, fried, to serve
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled (see Note), chopped
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp raw sugar
  • 375 ml (1½ cups) coconut milk
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 20 g tamarind pulp (block form), soaked in 125 ml (½ cup) boiling water
  • ½ cup freshly grated coconut (see Note)
  • 1 kg firm white fish fillets, skin removed
  • sliced red bird’s-eye chillies and steamed rice, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Heat mustard oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until they start to pop. Add curry leaves and cook for 30 seconds. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes then add cinnamon, cloves, cumin, chilli powder and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add tomato, turmeric and sugar and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until tomatoes have broken down.

Reduce heat to medium-low, add 250 ml (1 cup) coconut milk and coriander. Strain the tamarind through a fine sieve, pressing to extract as much liquid and paste as possible, discarding solids. Add tamarind liquid to pan. Simmer gently for 5 minutes then stir in grated coconut and cook for 2 minutes or until sauce has thickened. 

Cut fish into 7 cm pieces and add to sauce with remaining 125 ml (½ cup) coconut milk and enough water to just cover fish. Cook, stirring gently, for 10 minutes or until fish is cooked through. Top with sliced chillies, fried curry leaves and serve with steamed rice.


• Peeling tomatoes: bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Cut a small cross in the skin at the base of each tomato, then, working in batches, blanch in boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove tomatoes from water and refresh immediately in a bowl of iced water. Cool, then remove skins from tomatoes.
• Fresh coconuts are from select greengrocers. Use a coconut grater to shred flesh. Substitute frozen shredded coconut from Asian food shops.



Photography Chris Chen. Styling Justine Poole.


As seen in Feast magazine, November 2014, Issue 37.