Tamarind Fish

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves:


Appears in

Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad and Tobago

Sweet Hands

By Ramin Ganeshram

Published 2018

  • About

Tamarind is a fruit that is used often in Indian cooking and this dish is East Indian in origin. The simplest way to use this ingredient is to purchase pre-made tamarind syrup, which is available in Middle Eastern and Indian grocery stores.


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound fish fillets, such as tilapia or catfish
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind syrup
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 small Scotch bonnet or other hot red chili pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick, or ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Grated zest of ½ lemon
  • coarse salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 bay leaves


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil in a deep skillet and add the fish. Fry until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes, then turn and fry the other side. Remove the fish to a plate lined with paper towels.
  2. Heat the remaining oil in the same skillet and add the onion and ginger and sauté until the onion is soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for about 1 minute more.
  3. Place the tamarind syrup, sugar, and ¼ cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar is just dissolved. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir the tamarind mixture into the onion mixture and add the chili pepper, cinnamon stick, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid and add the fish, turning to coat well. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the fish flakes easily. Serve with rice.