Mamta's Kitchen

Fish Curry - Reena's (Spicy)

Machli Masala

Reena Bhutt

This spicy fish curry goes well with boiled rice. The recipe comes from a maid that my sister in-law in Delhi used to have a long time ago. She was an excellent Bengali cook. I have cooked it here with frozen fish, which really doesn't do it justice. Try making it with wish steaks on bone. – Mamta.

Serves 3-4


  • 500 gm. rahu, pomfret, salmon or any other firm fleshed fish, bones removed. Any good fishmonger will do this for you. Fish with bones also makes a very good curry, but my family likes it without bones.

  • Marinade

  • Salt to taste

  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder

  • For frying

  • 2 tbsp. mustard or olive oil

  • For curry sauce

  • 1 tbsp. mustard or olive oil

  • 1/2 tsp. black mustard (rai) seeds

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 medium sized onions, peeled and grated or finely chopped

  • 6 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and finely grated

  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated

  • 2 tbsp. natural yoghurt*

  • 1/4 tsp. chilli powder, to taste

  • 1 tsp coriander powder or dhania

  • 1/2 cup water approximately

  • 1/2 tsp. Garam Masala


  1. Marinating fish

  2. Mix salt and turmeric. Brush the fish pieces with salt and turmeric powder, leave aside for 10 minutes.

  3. Frying fish

  4. Heat oil in a frying pan.

  5. Shallow-fry fish on both sides for a few minutes. Do not overcook.

  6. Lift out and keep aside on an absorbent kitchen paper.

  7. Making curry gravy

  8. Mix chilli powder and coriander powder in yoghurt, mix and keep aside.

  9. Chop onion, ginger and garlic and keep aside.

  10. Heat remaining oil, add mustard seeds and bay leaf.

  11. Once the seeds crackle, add chopped onion, ginger and garlic mix and fry until nicely browned.

  12. Add all the spices and beaten yoghurt*. Stir fry until oil separates.

  13. Add fish, salt and just enough water to cover the fish. Bring it to brisk boil. Make sure that the fish is coated with the masala gravy thoroughly. Do not overcook or fish will break, 5-6 minutes will do. Do not turn it over too often or the fish will break.

  14. Sprinkle with garam masala.

  15. It can be garnished with chopped coriander leaves.

  16. Serve with Boiled Rice.


  • This curry can also be made without gravy. Add very little water, just enough to coat and cook the fish.

  • *Tips for cooking with yoghurt:

  • Always use full fat yoghurt, if possible. Skimmed milk yoghurt sometimes curdles during cooking. If you wish to use low fat yoghurt, add 1 heaped teaspoon of plain or corn flour per cup of yoghurt.

  • Make sure that the dish you are cooking is at room temperature. If yoghurt is cooked straight from the fridge, it may curdle.

  • When adding yoghurt during cooking, take out a few tablespoons of the hot food in a bowl, mix yoghurt, warming it a bit and then stir it back into the hot dish.

  • Substitute sour cream for yoghurt, using only half the amount.

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