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Coconut Masala Fish Curry

Coconut Masala Fish Curry

Bake Off Star, Chetna Makan, who describes our Robyn apron as, "Absolutely brilliant," has been a recipe powerhouse over lockdown, releasing a new dish every day, since late March.

This recipe caught my eye because it looks delicious, and uses coconut, which has to be my favourite ingredients.  Coconut?  I’m in. The recipe called for fresh coconut, of which, alas I had none. So I resourcefully switched up for desiccated and added a little more liquid to the mix.  You can see Chetna’s original recipe on her You Tube channel here

Chetna uses white fish, which I always have in the freezer on standby, as it makes for a swift supper.  On this occasion, I used hake.  Here’s a guide to sourcing fish sustainably in the UK. 

To keep my vegetable count high, I took finely chopped greens and tender stem broccoli through the pan at the last moment, giving them just a few minutes to wilt in the heat before serving.  I also switched water, for coconut milk and dressed the dish with toasted almonds. Coconut flakes would be even better.

I do hope Chetna approves.


500g firm white fish, cut into generous chunks

300g coconut milk

A good handful of tender stem broccoli, each cut in two length ways

Two good handfuls of finely chopped greens

2 onions, finely chopped

1 cup desiccated coconut

1-2 tsp ground turmeric

½ tsp cayenne powder

1 tsp each of cumin seeds, fennel seeds and black mustard seeds.

10-20 dried curry leaves

Another tsp or two of fennel seeds

2 dried chillis

Sunflower oil, to fry

Toasted almonds or coconut flakes to dress, plus a squeeze of citrus, lemon or lime


Place the cubed fish onto a dish and sprinkle with ground turmeric and cayenne powder. Add a little salt, as this helps to keep the fish firm when cooking and toss through to ensure evenly covered.  Set to one side.

In a large frying pan, preferably one with a lid, heat up a few tbsp of sunflower oil over a medium heat.

Once the oil is hot, tip in the cumin, fennel and mustard seeds. Listen for them to crackle and pop – at that point, they’re beginning to release their precious, fragrant oils. Add the curry leaves, and give the pan a shake.

Add the onions and stir through to cover with the spices. Season with salt, pop the lid on, and over a reduced heat, cook for 5-10 minutes.

Whilst the onions are cooking, and in a separate pan, dry fry the coconut with the additional tsp or two of fennel seed and dried chillies. Once the coconut turns golden, and you can smell the fennel and chilli, remove from the heat.  Allow to cool a little, and then transfer to a food processor and blitz to a rough paste.

By now, your onions ought to be softened and sweet. Add the coconut paste to the pan, along with the coconut milk. Add a little water, between 75-150g, depending on how wet you like your sauce. Give the mix a good stir – take in those beautiful aromas!

Add the chunks of spiced fish and gently stir through to combine, taking care not to break the fish pieces.

Replace the lid, and cook for 5-8 minutes over a medium heat.

Once the fish is opaque and firm, tip in the green vegetables. Add additional (boiling) water, if the mix looks a little dry, and season with sea salt, if needs. 

Gently stir though once more, replace the lid and bubble for another 5 minutes, until fish is completely cooked and the vegetables are al dente.

Serve dressed with toasted coconut or almond flakes, a squeeze of citrus and your favourite rice.

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