One chef, one recipe: Goan fish curry by Chef Vidhya Gawas

If there ever was a crime, it’s definitely visiting Goa and not sampling some of their staple fish curry. Now you can cook it yourself! 

Once upon a time, the curry was an anglicised term used to refer to the wide gamut of Indian food. Now, it’s just a reminder of the long-settled colonial hangover. 

Some say the term was derived from the Tamil word ‘kari’ or spiced sauce, a thin- soup like spiced dressing served in southern India, in parlance since 1500 BCE. However, another school of thought ascribes the origin to ‘kadhi,’ a yoghurt based dish from north-western India, where the British were probably exposed to it in the 17th century. 

Speaking strictly of fish curries, there is an interesting mention of it throughout the Indian epics. The Ramayana, for example, speaks of a feast which involves the making of a complex-tasting fish in a sauce smeared with cardamom, cumin, cloves, black pepper and salt which was served with rice. The Arthashastra (written during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya) also mentions that rice and dal formed the staple diet, and was accompanied by supplements like meat and fish curries. 

With every state in India having a unique local preparation of the dish, fish curries have definitely become ubiquitous in the country. With Goa being a state notoriously famed for its seafood, the staple nature of their succulent fish curries comes as no surprise. 

A remarkably simple preparation that leads to rich and tangy flavours is what lends the Goan fish curry its iconic place on the food landscape. A typical recipe recommends the use of any white fish. The Goan fish curry recipe gets its trademark spicy kick from the use of red chillies and peppercorn, whereas the tangy flavour comes from the use of tamarind/amchur powder or even kokum (sol). 

Most recipes traditionally call for the initial grounding of several spices in conjunction with onions, kokum, etc. The paste is then cooked with coconut (roasted as per preference), with the fish being added in at the very end. Served with another Goan staple, a bowl of steaming hot rice, the dish deliciously fits into the stereotype of the state’s culinary image. 

This Goan fish curry recipe has been specially curated by Chef Vidhya Gawas of DoubleTree by Hilton Goa – Panaji. Enjoy!

Chef vidhya gawas
Chef Vidhya Gawas

Goan fish curry recipe


  • 30 gm coconut
  • A little peppercorn
  • Kashmiri red chilli
  • Cumin seeds
  • Turmeric powder
  • 15 gm coriander seeds
  • 25 gm byadgi chilli
  • 8 gm jeera seeds
  • 5 gm tamarind
  • 7 gm salt
  • 5 gm kokum
  • 5 gm ginger
  • 5 gm garlic
  • Green chillies
  • 550 gm pomfret
  • Sliced onion

For garnish

  • 1 gm coriander leaves


  • Marinate the fish in salt and keep aside .
  • Grind together the grated coconut, red chilly, coriander seeds, tamarind, jeera seeds, ginger, and garlic into a fine smooth paste.
  • Slice the onion and apply a little salt to it. Mash it by hand and put it into a saucepan with a little water and boil.
  • Once it reaches a boil, add the fish to it and simmer for another 5 minutes. Then add the slit green chillies and kokum.
  • Check if the fish is cooked and add a pinch of salt for taste (If required).
  • Serve hot with rice.

Read more.

The concept of niramish mangsho (and machcha)

Discovering the diversity of India’s food — one cuisine at a time — with The Big Forkers

The feast of the east