A fun tilapia recipe

I picked up a pound-and-a-half tilapia this morning. In my opinion, salmon is the perfect fish. It's great grilled western style or with Indian spices, fried crisp or as a curry. Tilapia is one I'm just getting used to, and it definitely seems to stand up to some of my usual preparations.

I'm from Kerala, in Southern India. A relatively thin sliver of land defined by the ocean and backwaters, as well as green paddy fields and coconut palms. Of course, there's the rampant unemployment, political ferment, etc. But that's for another blog. It's the fish that I remember - fried, curried, fried then curried, cooked wrapped in banana leaves, the list goes on.

I marinated a pound of the tilapia in tamarind sauce, salt, chilli powder and turmeric. For a pound of fish, I used about four tablespoons of tamarind concentrate, a half tea spoon of chilli powder, a quarter teaspoon of turmeric and a tea spoon of salt. Add a dash of red wine vinegar if it the marinade needs some liquid (depends on how thick the tamarind concentrate is). This is a spicy curry, so tone down the tamarind and chilli powder if you're making this for the kids. When I make curry for the kids, I only add about a tea spoon of turmeric and replace the chilli powder with a pinch of pepper instead.
Fish curry
1 pound of fish (tilapia and salmon)
1 large onion
1 tea spoon of mustard seed
2 table spoons olive oil
1/2 spoon chilli powder (optional)
1/4 tea spoon of turmeric
1 table spoon of salt
1 cup of yogurt
4 table spoons of tamarind concentrate
Red wine vinegar (optional)
4 to 6 curry leaves (optional, you would find them in the fresh vegetables section of an Indian grocery)


  • Slice the fish into 1 inch cubes and marinate in the tamarind concentrate, salt, turmeric and chilli
  • Slice the onion thinly
  • In a small pot, heat oil and pop the mustard seeds. When they have popped, fry the onion till lightly browned
  • Pop in the marinaded fish, with the marinade
  • Cook for 10 minutes, till the pieces of fish turn white (under the coating of the spices, of course!)
  • Add a cup of yogurt to add some body to the curry. Pop in the curry leaves (optional)
  • Mix well, taking care to not break the fish pieces. It should be done as soon as the whole curry comes to a boil

The kids really enjoy fish grilled or fried. In those cases, I marinate the fish (cliched into smaller pieces) in salt, turmeric and a pinch of pepper. For a half-pound, use a half tea spoon of salt, and two pinches of turmeric, pepper to taste. I usually lightly fry the fish (just a table spoon full of oil, in a non-stick pan.)

A good Keralite would eat these dishes with white rice, but they are great with couscous, bread or Indian bread.


HuffPuff said…
Yum - this looks so good and not too complicated! :)
Roopali A said…
Roopa -- you are really something! Tried your grilled fish on the kids...they swallowed it whole! Keep those epicurean delights coming our way!!!