Simple, quick and full of flavor, brighten your weeknight with this coconut fish curry. Healthy to begin with, and if you avoid onions and garlic, there is a twist for you too!
Coconut Fish Curry

Seafood Curry from Kerala

Fish molee is a coconut seafood curry from Kerala, along India’s southwest coast. Molee means stew and the fish you use is completely up to you, though I recommend a firm-fleshed white fish. In India king fish or pomfrets are popular, but here in the United States tilapia, halibut, cod, or seabass are more easily found. I have also loved this coconut sauce with salmon as well.

Besides being very flavorful without a lengthy marination time, the heat level is low, so the chili-phobic people in your life will love this masala.

Quick, Easy & Tasty

It is difficult to find reasonably priced fresh fish where I live (the high desert in New Mexico), so I sometimes wind up buying frozen fish. The advantage is that I always have a package of seafood in my freezer, and can whip up a quick dinner at a moments notice. This recipe has few ingredients, the cooking goes quickly, and you have a main dish you can be proud to serve, not just to your family, but for guests as well.

I developed this curry for someone who does not have a full Indian pantry, so please read my notes about good substitutions for some of the harder to find ingredients.

See the notes below before you cook.

Coconut Fish Curry

Coconut Fish Curry (Fish Molee)

Simple, quick and full of flavor, brighten your weeknight with this coconut fish curry. Healthy to begin with, and if you avoid onions and garlic, there is a twist for you too!
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: coconut, Fish
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Marinating: 10 minutes
Servings: 4



  • 1 pound firm white fish seabass, halibut, tilapia, cod or even salmon
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kashmiri ground red chili ~ More to your taste, substitutions
  • 1/2 teaspoon table or sea salt ~ Divided

Curry (Masala)

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil ~ Or oil of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds ~ Preferrably black/brown
  • 1 cup onion ~ Finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste ~ Buy or make
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon green chili ~ More to your taste; substitutions
  • 8 curry leaves ~ Coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea or table salt ~ To your taste; I added another 1/4 tsp
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice ~ Or to taste

Garnishes ~ As you wish

  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro ~ Coarsely chopped
  • 4 curry leaves ~ Fried
  • 12 whole cashews ~ Toasted


  • Gather all your ingredients
    Fish Curry Ingredients
  • In a medium bowl mix turmeric, lemon juice, chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cut the fish into 3-inch pieces and add to the spice and lemon mixture. Stir to coat well and set aside for 10 minutes.
    Marinate the Fish
  • While the fish is marinating, heat a tablespoon of oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and as soon as they start crackling, add the onions and curry leaves (if using). Turn down the heat to medium and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add a little water as needed to prevent the onions from sticking.
    Tempering Spices
  • Add ginger garlic paste and green chili. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes until the paste no longer smells raw.
  • Add coconut milk, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the pan and heat just until bubbles start forming at the edges of the pan. Do not boil or the coconut milk may break or split. Turn heat to low, stirring occasionally for several minutes.
  • Add fish to the coconut milk, turn up the heat just until it starts to bubble gently. Return the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the fish is firm and cooked through. Stir gently so the fish doesn’t break into pieces.
    Add the Fish
  • Adjust for seasonings. This is a dish rich with coconut milk so make sure that you taste for enough acid (lemon juice), salt and heat, all to your taste.
  • Garnishes: fried curry leaves, or chopped cilantro and toasted cashews.
    Garnish 7 Serve the Coconut Fish Curry


  • Curry leaves add a lovely herbal aroma to this dish, but if you can’t find them, leave them out. If you are interested in ordering them online, they can be found fresh at Amazon and or dried, also at Amazon.
  • Indian mustard seeds are black or brown and are a little more flavorful, but yellow mustard seeds work just fine in this coconut fish curry.
  • If you are cooking without onion and garlic, skip and slightly increase the ginger, and add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds with the mustard seeds in the cooking process. If you have it, a pinch of asafetida added with the green chilies would be a good addition as well.