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Everyday Fish Curry

Everyday Fish Curry

Growing up in a coastal state in India, I developed a taste for seafood very early in my life. Odisha had all the fish, shrimp, and crab that I could handle. I remember roadtrips from our home in Berhampur to my mother's side of the family in Bhubaneshwar. We had to stop at Chilika lake to get shrimp, crab, or fish (sometimes all three) and bring it with us to cook that same day. And of course, we would make a second stop on the way back home to Berhampur. I still love nothing more than a bowl of rice and some fresh curried crab. 

Fresh crab isn't easily available or easy to maneuver for an everyday meal, so instead, I'll share my everyday fish curry or maccha (fish) jhola (curry) recipe. We grew up eating this every week - seared fish, braised in a curry sauce with potatoes. You can use any hearty, generally mild fish that can hold its shape, such as halibut, sea bass, salmon, catfish. And you can skip the potatoes but you will rarely find a fish curry in Odisha that does not have thinly sliced potatoes. I serve this with rice and something green, like chard, spinach, or peas. I have so many other Odia seafood recipes from my childhood to share and I'm excited to eventually share them all with you!

Recipe Notes

  • Coating the fish in turmeric not only adds flavor but also reduces the fishiness
  • I chose to broil the fish for a few minutes to reduce the oil but you are welcome to pan fry the fish pieces in a tablespoon of oil.
  • You can use any firm fish that will hold it's shape - halibut, salmon, swordfish, catfish. Avoid delicate fish like sole, thin tilapia fillets, or whitefish.

Serves 2


  • 2 6 oz fillets
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 2 green cardamom pods, smashed
  • 1/4 piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 chopped fresno chili (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1" piece grated ginger
  • 3 cloves grated garlic
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder, divided
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 3/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 small potatoes, sliced thinly
  • salt to taste
  • Chopped cilantro to garnish


Prepare the fish. Pat dry the fish fillets and dress well with 1/2 turmeric powder, 1 tsp oil, and some salt. Lay out on a baking sheet with foil and broil in the oven for 10-12 mins. Set aside to cool. While the fish is cooking, chop the onion and tomato, and grate the ginger and garlic. Wash and slice the potatoes thinly - cut down the middle once and slice each half as the potato lays face down.

Heat up a pot on medium heat and add the oil. As soon as the oil begins to smoke, add in the fresno chili, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pods. Toss for 10-15 seconds. Add in the cumin seeds and as soon as they start to sputter, add the chopped onion and mix well. Sprinkle with a little salt and cook the onions until golden brown on medium heat, about 10 mins. Next, add the grated ginger and garlic and cook for an additional 5 mins. Add the tomato and cook for an additional 5 mins, or until mushy. If the masala is sticking to the pot, add a tablespoon of water to deglaze the pot.

Add the spices - cumin, coriander, red chili, and the rest of the turmeric powder. Cook for 2 mins and then add the potato slices. Mix well and saute for an additional 2-3 mins. Next, add the cup of water, raise the heat, and bring the pot to a boil. Once the pot is boiling, lower the heat to medium, place a lid on the pot, and cook for 15 mins, or until the potatoes are tender. 

Once the potatoes are done, add the fish fillets to the pot and cook uncovered for 5 mins. Add the garam masala, more salt if needed, and garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice and some greens!

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