20 November 2013,14:37 by

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Serves :

Preparation Time :
30 minutes

Cooking Time :
30 minutes

Preparation Method :

  • Skin the fish and fillet it. Cut it into medium-sized chunks. Wash well, drain and gently pat dry with kitchen paper. Transfer the pieces on to a large platter or tray, cover and set aside.
  • To make the Chettinad masala paste, heat a small frying pan and add the aromatics, whole spices and curry leaves. Dry-roast them, till they begin to change colour.
  • Transfer them to a grinder. Add the salt, oil and a little water. Grind the ingredients, till it's a fine, peppery, dark brown paste.
  • Add the tomato, tamarind extract, turmeric powder and chilli powder and grind, till the tomatoes have completely disintegrated and the paste is thick, deep and dark brown.
  • The paste should be peppery hot, complex and tangy with the tomatoes and tamarind balancing out the intense heat of the pepper and spices.
  • Mix the masala paste a few times to combine everything well, and add a little salt or tamarind to balance the spices if required.
  • Smear each piece of fish with the thick masala paste, making sure they are evenly and gently coated in the tangy, hot paste.
  • Cover the fish and leave to marinate for 15 minutes.
  • To Fry The Fish
  • Heat the oil in a medium-sized nonstick pan. When the oil is hot, season the fish with salt and put the pieces in batches into the hot oil.
  • Fry the pieces for 1-2 minutes on one side to give them a delicious, golden spice crust. Turn the pieces over carefully and fry the second side, till golden and crisp.
  • Remove the fish from the pan and drain the excess oil on kitchen paper.
  • Now, squeeze some lime juice over the fish and garnish with coriander leaves.


  • 750 grams fleshed white fish

The Chettinad Masala Paste     

  • 6 garlic cloves
  • ½ "ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • A small handful of curry leaves
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons Cooking oil
  • 1 tomato, chopped fine 
  • 2 tablespoons thick tamarind extract
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot red chilli powder

To Fry the Fish

The Garnish

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3-4 teaspoons chopped fresh coriander leaves

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