Coconut Fish Dream.JPG

This immediately brings to mind one of my most popular, and easiest, recipes, with a dreamy coconut lilt giving some serious tropical holiday vibes...

It has an incredibly simple but delicious and versatile sauce, which is essentially a qurma, or korma, sauce, but simpler as there are no white poppy seeds or nuts. I have used white fish here but it also works really well with vegetables, chicken, prawns or any seafood really.

Qurmas were introduced to India by the Mughal Empire, who loved adding a luxurious creaminess to their savoury sauces, and indeed, this can be made with single or double cream instead of coconut milk, but I love the South-Indian tones and extra decadence the coconut milk lends. Although creamy, an authentic qurma is never sickly sweet though. However, although this recipe has punch, modify to as mild or hot as you like by using as much or as little (and any type of) chilli as you like. Serves 4


  • 1lb (450g) skinless, firm white sustainable fish, cut into 8 fillets, such as pollock, cod, haddock or monkfish
  • 1 tbsp mild and light olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 medium sized onion, grated
  • 1 cup tinned chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 green chilies, finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
  • A good pinch of garam masala
  • 1 cup coconut milk (shake the can to make sure the creamy solids have mixed into the milk)
  • A handful of chopped fresh coriander / cilantro


  1. Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan with the cumin seeds. 
  2. When the cumin is sizzling, add the onion and fry until lightly golden and any water from the onion has evaporated.
  3. Turn down the heat, take the pan off the heat to cool a little and then add the tomatoes, salt, chilli, ground turmeric and chilli powder. Stir well.
  4. When shiny and the oil separates out in tiny beads from the rest of the mixture, add a sprinkle of garam masala and stir in the coconut milk. Cook gently for 2 – 3 minutes to let the coconut milk incorporate fully.
  5. Add the fish and stir to fully coat.
  6. Cover and cook on a very, very low heat for 12 – 15 minutes until the fish is cooked. Swirl the pan gently to stir without breaking the fish and scatter with the coriander / cilantro.