Malabar Fish Fry

Writer VK Sreelesh’s in-laws live in the south Indian state of Kerala, along the Malabar Coast, where people’s diets are heavily influenced by the area’s abundant supply of seafood. One of his favorite dishes is this fried bullseye fish, seasoned with turmeric and chile powder and fried in coconut oil. While small bullseye fish or sardines are traditionally used, salmon, shrimp, or snapper, as we’ve used here, also work. This recipe first appeared in the tablet edition of our August/September 2014 special India issue.

Malabar Fish Fry Malabar Fish Fry
Fried fish is seasoned with turmeric and chile powder and fried in coconut oil in this south Indian recipe from the Malabar coast.
Yield: serves 2


  • 1 (2-lb.) red snapper, cleaned and cut crosswise into four 1″ steaks
  • 1 12 tbsp. red chile powder, such as cayenne
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
  • 1 (1″) piece ginger, peeled and mashed into a paste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 14 cup coconut or canola oil


  1. Rinse fish and pat dry using paper towels. Mix chile powder, turmeric, garlic, ginger, salt, and 2 tbsp. water in a bowl to make a paste. Rub over fish; let sit 10 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a (12″) nonstick skillet over medium-high. Cook fish, flipping once, until crisp and cooked through, 8–10 minutes.