Tilapia with fenugreek sauce


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

The slightly bitter flavour of fenugreek combines well with other spices and the tan-coloured seeds and soft green leaves are used extensively in Indian cooking. Take care not to overcook the fish in this dish, Methi Machchi, or it will toughen; the pieces should be just opaque.


  • 675 g/lb tilapia fillets, skinned
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 5 ml/1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 60 ml/4 tbsp sunflower oil or light olive oil
  • 5 ml/1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2.5 ml/72 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2.5 cm/1 in fresh root ginger, grated, or 10ml/2 tsp ginger purée
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed, or 10ml/2 tsp garlic purée
  • 2.5 ml/72 tsp ground turmeric
  • 5 ml/1 tsp ground cumin
  • 10 ml/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2.5 ml/12 tsp chilli powder
  • 115 g/4 oz canned chopped tomatoes, with their juice
  • 10 ml/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi), crushed
  • julienne strips of fresh root ginger and fresh green chilli, to garnish
  • Plain Boiled Rice, to serve


  1. Cut the fish into 5cm/2in pieces and sprinkle with the lime juice and half the salt. Set aside for 15–20 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy frying pan over a medium heat and add the fenugreek seeds. Allow them to darken and flavour the oil, then remove and discard the seeds, retaining the oil. Add the mustard seeds and reduce the heat to low when they start popping.

  3. Add the ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli powder. Fry gently for about 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes and fenugreek leaves.

  4. Increase the heat and stir-fry until the tomatoes reach a paste-like consistency and the oil separates from the paste.

  5. Pour in 120ml/4fl oz/½ cup warm water and stir in the remaining salt. Cook for 3–4 minutes, then add the fish.

  6. Simmer for 5–6 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked. Garnish with the ginger and chilli strips and serve with Plain Boiled Rice.

Per portion Energy 285kcal/1189kJ; Protein 31g; Carbohydrate 1g, of which sugars 1g; Fat 18g, of which saturates 2g; Cholesterol 0mg; Calcium 221mg; Fibre 0.2g; Sodium 595mg.