Fish in tamarind-laced coconut milk


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook: 300 Classic Recipes from the Great Regions of India

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook

By Mridula Baljekar

Published 2017

  • About

Both fish and coconut are found in abundance in and around the southern Indian coastline. Recipes such as this one, Meen Molee, are best made using white, firm-textured fish such as tilapia, monkfish or sole. However, it is just as successful when using large prawns. The coconut adds a richness to the dish.


  • 675 g/lb fillet of tilapia or any other firm white fish
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 ml/1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 15 ml/3 tbsp sunflower oil or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 10 ml/2 tsp ginger purée
  • 5 ml/1 tsp garlic purée
  • 2 fresh green chillies, finely chopped, (deseeded if preferred)
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp chilli powder
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 400 ml/14 oz/1⅔ cups canned coconut milk
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp creamed coconut, cut into small pieces, or coconut cream
  • toasted coconut flakes, to garnish
  • Plain Boiled Rice, to serve


  1. Cut the fish into 5cm/2 in pieces and lay them out on a large plate. Rub in half the lemon juice and half the salt. Set aside.

  2. Heat the oil over medium heat, then add the onion and fry 5–6 minutes, until the onion is soft, but not brown.

  3. Add the ginger, garlic and green chillies, and cook for 5–6 minutes, until light golden.

  4. Add the chilli powder and turmeric, cook for 30 seconds, then pour in the coconut milk and add the creamed coconut or coconut cream. Add the remaining salt and lemon juice, and stir until the creamed coconut has dissolved.

  5. Add the fish. Simmer for 7 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Garnish with coconut flakes. Serve with Plain Boiled Rice.

Per portion Energy 366kcal/1528kJ; Protein 33.6g; Carbohydrate 13.7g, of which sugars 11.4g; Fat 20g, of which saturates 9.1g; Cholesterol 0mg; Calcium 269mg; Fibre 1.4g; Sodium 208mg.