Fish Moilee

Mild and zesty fish curry



Prep time

30 minutes

Cook time

25 minutes

This traditional Kerelan fish curry is a great way to use white fish. Combining creamy coconut and zesty lime, it makes a fantastic dinner when served with rice and mango chutney. 


For the fish and marinade
500g  white fish, chopped into large chunks
2 tsps turmeric
2 limes, juiced
1 tsp salt
pinch black pepper
1 tbsp coconut oil
For the sauce
1 brown onion, roughly diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 green chillies, split lengthways 
2 large tomatoes, quartered
1 piece of ginger, slightly larger than your thumb, peeled
4 kaffir lime leaves (if you can’t get these, use the zest of the limes juiced for the marinade)
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander, ground 
800ml coconut milk
1 tbsp coconut oil
salt and pepper, to taste


1. Mix the turmeric, lime juice, salt and pepper to make the marinade. Add the chunks of fish and mix to coat. Leave for at least 20 minutes.

2. Whilst the fish marinates, mash up the garlic and ginger in a pestle and mortar with a little salt until they form a rough paste (if you don’t have one, finely grate them).

3. Warm the coconut oil for the fish in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat.

4. Add the fish (taking care to leave the marinade behind as it will stop the fish frying — but don’t throw it away). Cook for 1-2 minutes depending on thickness, turning every 15-20 seconds. It should just be cooked on the outside but not all the way through. Transfer to a clean bowl.

5. Add the coconut oil for the sauce to the same pan and heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook for a minute until they crackle. Then add the ginger and garlic from the pestle and mortar, along with the kaffir lime leaves, and cook for another minute, moving constantly to prevent sticking.

6. Turn the heat down to low and add the onion and ground coriander. Sweat until the onion is translucent.

7. Add half the coconut milk (but see tip below) and the marinade from the fish. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Then take the pan off the heat and use a stick blender to blend the contents so it forms a thick sauce.

8. Add the fish and the green chillies, along with a splash of water if the sauce is very thick, and bring back to a simmer for 4 minutes. 

9. Add the tomatoes and the rest of the coconut milk. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Chef’s tips

Often coconut milk in a tin separates into thin coconut water and thick coconut cream. If this happens, add all the thin coconut water from both tins at the same time as you add the marinade, and then add the thicker coconut cream when you add the tomatoes. 

Use a fish which is fairly thick, as very thin pieces tend to fall apart. 

Serve with basmati rice and mango chutney. 


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