Karwari style coastal fish curry

karwari pomfret curry 2-1


Karwar is a coastal town about 2 hours drive from Goa. It has a culinary tradition distinct from that of other cities in the Malwan on India’s western coast, off the Arabian sea .
This family recipe comes from my maternal grandmother. You will notice peculiar techniques like the use of two kinds of souring agents; tamarind and kokum or salted and dried mangosteen fruit, similar ingredients are both roasted and ground and separately sautéed and the use of turmeric for both flavor and color. This curry has a mellow flavor and is easy to make. You can use steaks of white fish like pomfret, cod, halibut or shrimp. For a vegetarian version add potatoes.

6-8 servings



1 kg rawas or surmai, cut into 8-10 steaks

1 tsp + 1½-2 tsp salt or to taste

2 tbsp vegetable oil

50 gms white onions, chopped

400 ml thick coconut milk

8 soft, dried kokum fruit, soaked in a cup of hot water

½” fresh ginger root, peeled, julienned

2 Indian green chillies, 1”- 1½” long, slit lengthwise or 1 Thai bird chillie


Spice paste

1 tsp coriander seeds

1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds

4 black peppercorns

8 dried red Kashmiri chillies, stalks and seeds removed

1 tsp turmeric powder

4 Indian green chillies, 1”- 1½” long, roughly chopped OR 2 Thai bird chillies

½” fresh ginger root, peeled, grated

1 tbsp roughly chopped white onion

1 tsp rice flour


Juice of ½ a lime

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves


Wash the fish and drain thoroughly. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt, cover and refrigerate.


Toast the whole spices and red chillies for the spice paste in a skillet on medium heat for about 2 minutes, till fragrant.

Switch off the heat and stir the turmeric powder into the hot spices. Cool and grind to a fine powder.

Add the green chillies, ginger onion and rice flour and grind to a fine consistency.

Remove the fish from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.


Put the oil in a small kadhai or wok on medium heat. When hot, sauté the onion, ginger and green chillies for 1-2 minutes, till the onion is translucent.

Add the fish, ground spice paste and coconut milk.

Squeeze the kokum and strain the liquid into the pan.

Simmer for 5-8 minutes or till the fish is tender.

Add 1½-2 tsp salt and taste.

Garnish with lime juice and coriander leaves and serve hot with plain, boiled, white rice.