Kerala-style Fried Fish – Whip it UP!

Kerala- style Fried Fish – Whip it UP!

kerala fish fry

Nothing beats the combined aromas of freshly ground aromatics and pepper. Home-made masala adds new dimension of flavours to this popular fried fish, Kerala style, that’s so easy to whip up. Pickled onion and deep-fried curry leaves make perfect side kicks!

Total Time: 30 mins

Difficulty: 1/5

Cost: S$7.00

Serves: 3 pax

A: Fish

400g mackerel (ikan tenggiri) cutlets

B: Marinade

2 garlic cloves, peeled
Thumb-sized ginger, peeled
½ teaspoon chilli powder
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric or thumb-sized turmeric, peeled
½ teaspoon ground pepper, black
½ teaspoon salt

60ml oil to fry fish

C: Pickled Onion
1 large red onion, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar

D: Garnish
1-2 sprigs curry leaves, stems removed


1. Pickled onion: In a small mixing bowl, mix C ingredients and set it aside.

2. To make masala: place garlic, ginger and fresh turmeric (if using) in a pestle and mortar. Pound to a fine paste.

3. Pat dry fish with paper towel. Marinate fish with A ingredients for at least 15 minutes.

kerala fish fry

4. Heat oil in a wok or non-stick saucepan over medium heat. When it is hot, put in curry leaves to fry for a few seconds until crisp. To test if oil is hot enough, dip the end of 1 chopstick into the oil; when it sizzles, you can start cooking. Drain on paper towels.

curry leaves

5. Put fish into saucepan. Shallow-fry until brown on each side, approximately 4-5 minutes on each side, depending on  thickness of cutlet. Flip fish and continue cooking until brown.

kerala fish fry

6. Drain fish on paper towels. Transfer to a serving plate.

7. Garnish with pickled onion and fried curry leaves. Serve with steamed fragrant rice.

TIPS: In order for masala to adhere to fish, pat dry the fish. Salmon, wolf herring (ikan parang), threadfin (ikan kurau) or saba fish are also ideal for this recipe.

TECHNIQUE: Shallow pan-frying over medium-low heat keeps fish moist while it is being cooked. 

Photos: Jessie Thomas, Evonne Lyn Lee

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