Masala fried fish curry recipe is a popular dish where thick cutlets of fresh fish are marinaded in spices and seared in shallow oil. The cutlets are slowly cooked in a spicy and tangy tomato gravy. The preferences for the fish used in the curry may vary but seasonal fish like Shad, Barracuda, Red Soldier are often the firm favourites among the South African Indian community.

Ingredients for fish marinade :

5 Slices of fish, cleaned

3 Teaspoons masala

1 Teaspoon chilli powder

1 Teaspoon ginger and garlic paste

Salt to taste

2 Green chillies, sliced finely

3 Sprigs coriander

Oil to fry the fish

Ingredients for curry:

1 Tablespoon cumin

1 Teaspoon mustard Seeds

2 Teaspoons chilli powder

5 Teaspoons curry powder (Masala)

1 Onion, sliced

3 Sprigs curry leaves

1 1/2 Teaspoon ginger and garlic paste

9 Grated tomatoes

1 Sachet tomato paste

Salt to taste


2 Garlic cloves

2 Teaspoons tamarind, placed in water with pulp and seed removed.

1 Green chilli

1/4 Teaspoon sugar

5 Sprigs coriander



  1. Place the slices of cleaned fish onto a plate. Sprinkle fine salt on both sides of the fish. Add in all the ingredients for the marinade. Ensure each slice of fish is well coated with the marinade.
  2. Heat oil in a pan, enough oil for a shallow fry. Place the fish into the oil and fry till firm (sear each side) but not brown. Set the fish aside.
  3. Place a pan on the stove top on a medium heat setting. Add in the cumin seeds and mustard seeds and allow to fry. Place the seeds onto a clean flat surface. Using a rolling pin, crush the seeds into a powder. Set the powder aside.
  4. In a pot heat enough oil to cover the surface of the pot. Add in sliced onions and a sprig of curry leaf.
  5. When the onion becomes translucent in color, stir in the cumin and mustard seed powder mix, chilli powder, curry powder (masala), ginger and garlic paste. Mix well, allow to simmer for 2 seconds.
  6. Add in the grated tomatoes and tomato puree. Add in another sprig of curry leaf and mix.
  7. Add in salt. Cook until the tomatoes have broken down and formed into a smooth gravy.
  8. Add in the semi fried or sear fish into the tomato gravy. Place spoonful off gravy over each piece of fish.
  9. Reduce heat to a simmer. Close the lid and cook for 30 minutes. Regularly check the curry every few minutes.
  10. Add in the garlic cloves. Don’t mix the fish !, rather shake the pot. When the fish is cooked and the curry has an aroma, stir in the tamarind.
  11. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add chilli and another sprig of curry leaf, stir in the coriander. Simmer a little.
  12. Switch the stove off. Remove from heat. Do not stir the curry as the fish will break.
  13. Serve hot with rice or roti (flat bread).