Gizzi Erskine’s South Indian Fish Curry

When we were mentored by Gizzi Erskine (as part of the American Express #BackedBy competition) we made this curry together. There’s a video on our homage which shows how we used it to conduct an experiment. We made one South Indian Fish Curry using spices from our ‘Single Origin’ range, and another South Indian Fish Curry using plain old supermarket spices. The difference between the two was quite stark — not just in the depth of colour but also the depth of flavour.
A curry like this has such evocative flavours. It’s a classic example of the spices really carrying the dish. Though Gizzi recommends using fish on the bone (we used hake), I’ve made it before with fillets of meaty, white fish (just reducing the cooking time) and it remained completely delicious.


2 + 4tbsp neutral oil
1 onion, finely chopped
Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
1tbsp mustard seeds (optional)
2tsp cumin seeds
1tsp Daal blend
1tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
¼ tsp Indian cayenne pepper
1tsp turmeric
Handful of fresh curry leaves
3 green chillies (kept whole)
400ml tin of coconut milk
300ml fish (or chicken/vegetable) stock
2tbsp tamarind juice (made from rehydrating dried tamarind)
4 fillets of fish on the bone (hake, snapper, kingfish)
1 lime, zested and juiced
Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper, to season

For the Lemon Rice
240g of basmati rice
1 lemon, sliced
A pinch of saffron
1tsp Nigella Seeds
4 curry leaves


Heat 2tbsp of oil in a large saucepan or wok. Add the onions and cook them on a gentle heat for 10-12 minutes, until they have softened and started to turn translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, and then stir for a minute until they are aromatic. Next, add the tomatoes and then continue cooking on a low heat for a further 30-45 minutes until everything has mulched down.

Meanwhile, put the remaining 4btsp of oil into a separate pan. Add all the spices, and ‘temper’ them by bringing the oil up to the heat until the mustard seeds start to crackle (if using). Take the pan off the heat straight away, strip the curry leaves off the stalk and add them to the spices, swirling them in the spiced oil – and then add it all to the onion-tomato mixture.

Put the green chillies into a pan, to infuse and then cover with coconut milk, fish stock and tamarind juice. Bring to a simmer and then place the fish steaks into the poaching liquid. Cook for 4-5 minutes, gently turn, and then cook for another 4 minutes. Season the sauce with lime (zest and juice), salt and pepper, garnish with fresh coriander and serve with lemon rice.

For the Lemon Rice
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, cover with 1cm of cold water, pop on the lid and bring to the boil.
Cook for 5 minutes, or until almost all the water has been absorbed.
Remove from the heat and leave to steam with the lid on for 10 minutes before serving.

spices used

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