This Kerala Christian-style fresh fish stew is made with coconut cream, mustard seeds, curry leaves and turmeric.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (49 votes)


  • 600 g snapper fillets
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil 
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds 
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped 
  • Salt, to taste 
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger 
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric 
  • 2-3 red and green chillies, finely sliced 
  • 10-12 fresh curry leaves 
  • 1 large tomato, chopped 
  • 500 ml (2 cups) coconut cream
  • 250 ml (1 cup) mild chicken or fish stock 
  • 1 tsp lemon juice, plus extra to serve
  • Steamed basmati 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.


Serves 4 as a part of a meal 

  1. Cut the fish fillets into 4 to 6 equal-sized pieces.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until just below smoking point. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they start to crackle. Reduce the heat to medium, then add the onion and salt and cook until translucent.
  3. Add the ginger and cook until slightly caramelised. Add the turmeric and chillies and stir until fragrant. Add the curry leaves and stir for 1 minute or until they crackle. Add the chopped tomato and cook for 1 -2 minutes or until starting to soften.
  4. Add the coconut cream and simmer until the oil separate. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, then add the fish and simmer until the fish is just cooked through. If you prefer, you can pan-fry the fish separately, skin -side down, first for a crisp skin. Stir in the lemon juice and serve with steamed rice.


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Photography by Adam Liaw.