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Monica's Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry

From <i>Modern Spice</i> by Monica Bhide. Copyright 2009 by Monica Bhide. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Serves 4

Prep/Cook Time: 40 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 10 fresh curry leaves
  • 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small green serrano chile, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red chile powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 pound catfish fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1⁄2 of a 13.5-ounce can coconut milk (3⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)



  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the mustard seeds. As soon as they crackle, add the curry leaves, ginger, garlic, and green chile. Sauté for a few seconds to combine.
  2. Add the tomato. Cook gently for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tomato is soft and the oil begins to leave the side of the mixture. You can add some water if the tomato begins to stick. I sometimes add a quarter-cup of water and cover the pan for 5 to 6 minutes. This helps cook the tomatoes faster. Then I uncover it and continue to cook until all the water evaporates.
  3. Stir in the turmeric, chile powder, and salt. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the fish and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the coconut milk. Let the mixture come to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fish is tender. Serve immediately.

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