Mamta's Kitchen

Tandoori Fish - 7 Whole Fish

Tandoori Machli - 7

Mamta Gupta

This recipe is suitable for all types of whole fish. Here I have made is with a fresh sea-bass. Serves 2 as main course dish with vegetables/rice. Can serve 4-6 people as a starter or as a part of an Indian meal. It can be cooked in an oven or on a BBQ. If you have neither, you can pan fry it on both side on moderate heat.

Also see BBQ Selection and Marinade Selection.

Edited March 2018

Whenever I make a tandoori spice mix, I extra and save a couple of small jars in the freezer for using another day, either on fish or chicken etc.


  • 1 whole sea bass or any other fish you like, 750gm to 1 kg

  • Aluminium foil

  • Marinade

  • 2-4 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped

  • 1 level tsp. turmeric*

  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder*

  • 1/2 tsp. chilli flakes, adjust to taste*

  • 2 tsp. coriander powder*

  • 1 tsp. salt, adjust to taste*

  • Juice or flesh of half a lime

  • 1 tbsp. Besan /Bengal gram flour (optional)

  • 2 tbsp. extra thick yoghurt

  • 2 tbsp. oil

  • *If you do not have individual spices, use 2 tbsp. Curry Powder of a good quality, in place of marked spices. Some curry mixes have salt added to them, so make sure you check it.

  • Garnish ; shredded lettuce, cucumber slices and a cup of cherry tomatoes cooked with the fish.


  1. Place ginger, garlic, oil, all the spices/spice mix, lemon juice, salt and yoghurt in a blender and blend to a paste.

  2. Add Besan/Bengal gram flour and mix. If you don't have it, add plain flour instead. The flour helps to bind the spices to the fish.

  3. Adjust seasoning to taste. Tandoori fish tastes great when the marinade is hot and spicy. So, feel free to increase amount of chillies to suit your taste.

  4. Clean fish, removing the scales and guts etc. I always ask the fishmonger to do this for me, much easier!

  5. Dry it inside and out with a kitchen towel.

  6. Make 3-4 oblique slits across the body of the fish on both sides. This will help the marinade to seep in. In pictures here, the marinated fish does not show slits. That is because I forgot! I made the slits after covering it in marinate.

  7. Cover the fish inside and out in marinade. Make sure that some marinate is pushed inside the slits.

  8. Place the fish on an aluminium foil (I use double layer to stop it from splitting during cooking). Place the cherry tomatoes alongside the fish, so they can cook surrounded by the marinade and oil from the marinade. Make a parcel.

  9. Place in a preheated oven at 180C/350F-200C/400F and cook for 25-30 minutes. Open the foil gently and check that the fish is done. If not, cover it again and put is back for another 10 minutes or so. To test if the fish is done, poke the thickest part of the fish, through a slit, at an angle with a fork or a chopstick and push the flesh gently away from the bones. It should part from the bones easily.

  10. Once done, lift the fish off the foil gently, using two flat spatulas, one from either side, and place it on your prepared platter. In the pictures here, I roasted a few cherry tomatoes alongside the fish, because they look and taste good with the dish. You can cover the fish with slices of lime or lemon instead.

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