The Big Boys Curry Book

Fish Molee

In the palace in Thiruvunanthapurm you can see splendid hardwood carving

Variations of this Anglo-Indian fish stew are ubiquitous all along the west coast of India, from Bombay down to Trivandrum. It is a mild, delicate dish best served with plain rice although you might like to flavour the rice with a piece of aniseed, fennel or dill. I like to use cod, but any firm fleshed white fish can be used. The sauce can be made ahead and the fish simply finished by reheating the sauce and continuing from step 5. This recipe serves 4 as a main course.


Marinade Ingredients

  • 150-160gr (5-6oz) fish fillet per person, cleaned, deboned and skinned
  • 1/4 tspn turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • juice 1/2 lime mixed with a tablespoon of water

Other Ingredients

  • 200ml (8floz, 1 cup) Thick coconut milk (see notes)
  • 400ml (16floz, 2 cup) Thin coconut milk (see notes)
  • 3 tblspn Oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced fine
  • 6 green chillies, slit lengthways
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 inch square of fresh ginger, crushed and chopped fine
  • 1 tomato, chopped fine
  • 4 peppercorns, 2 cloves, 2 cardomoms lightly crushed
  • 1/4 tspn turmeric
  • 8 curry leaves


  1. Marinade the fish in its marinade ingredients and set aside
  2. Heat oil in a broad based pan and saute onion, chilli, garlic and ginger until onion is lightly coloured
  3. Add tomato, crushed spices and curry leaf and saute for another 2 minutes
  4. Add thin milk and turmeric and simmer over slow heat until sauce is reduced by half
  5. Add fish pieces and thick milk and poach until fish is cooked, generally 3 to 5 minutes


To make coconut milk either:

  • Buy 1 400ml can of thick coconut milk, shake well and pour 1/2 contents in a bowl and mix with 200ml (i.e. same quantity of water. What remains in can is your thick milk.
  • Or: Take a fresh coconut, grate it finely. In a large food processor or liquidiser, add the coconut and 200ml of hot water. Process for a minute, then strain through a fine mesh. This is your thick milk. Return coconut to processor and add 400ml hot water and process for 1.5 minutes. Strain into separate container. This is your thin milk. Discard remains of coconut.

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