Timur tamarind fish broth


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia

Fire Islands

By Eleanor Ford

Published 2019

  • About

From Nusa Tenggara Timur, and in particular the far eastern island of Alor, there is this blissfully simple soup of fish poached in a tangy, spicy broth. Make sure you use good stock and adjust the tastes as you go, as getting the balance of sweet and salty right will help make the sourness of the tamarind and lime come alive.


  • 1.5 litres (6 cups) fresh fish or chicken stock
  • 1-2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1 tablespoon dark palm sugar (gula jawa)
  • 3 small red Asian shallots, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 200 g (7 oz) catfish, grouper or cod fillets, cut into chunks
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
  • juice of a lime
  • handful lemon basil or Thai basil leaves, to serve
  • 1-2 bird’s eye chillies, sliced, to serve
  • extra lime wedges, to serve


Pour the stock into a large pan and add 1 tablespoon of the tamarind paste, the palm sugar, shallots and garlic. Season with salt if the stock isn’t already. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Tamarind pastes vary in strength so add as much as is needed to get a pleasingly tangy broth balanced by just a little sweetness.

Lower in the fish, bring back to a simmer and poach for about 3 minutes, until almost cooked through. Add the tomatoes and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat, squeeze in the lime juice and taste again for seasoning.

Serve in soup bowls with lemon basil, sliced chilies and lime wedges at the table for people to add to their own bowls. A little chilli goes a long way in a hot broth, so add judiciously.