Kerala Fish Fry

Kerala Fish Fry

Coated with a flavoursome masala and fried in coconut oil, this Kerala fish fry is the best! Crispy on the outside, with a succulent flesh inside, this fried fish will make your lunch a gratifying experience!

Pour some sambhar or fish curry on a bed of rice, with some avial and thoran on the side, crush some poppadum, and flakes of a fish fry to complete a mouthful of food! This, my friends, is the ultimate Kerala lunch!

If there is a heaven, I would imagine the lunch service to have this fish fry every day!

For Kerala style fish fries, we use two marinades at home. This fish fry is one of them. This is inspired by how my mom fries fish at home.

Kerala Fish Fry
Kerala Fish Fry

Preparing the marinade is quite simple – grind together a handful of shallots with some garlic, ginger, and curry leaves. Add chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and salt to complete the paste. Score the fish and rub in the marinade. Fry in coconut oil with a dash of pepper powder.

You could use more oil and deep fry the fish. Alternatively, you could use just enough oil to cover the base and use a spoon to scoop some hot oil on the top every now and then.

Kerala style fish fry - serve with a dash of lime
Kerala style fish fry – serve with a dash of lime

I used pomfret fish for this post. It was a small one, the size of my palm, weighing about 250 grams. You can use any fish of your choice. It doesn’t have to be a whole fish either. Cutting to steaks will make it easy to fry them. It’ll also get the marinade to cover more surface. For best results, let the fish marinate for a couple of hours before you fry them.

Check out this Kerala fish fry recipe and give a try. Do you love fish fries? Which fish do you prefer, and how do you fry them?

Kerala Fish Fry
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Kerala Fish Fry

Coated with a flavoursome masala and fried in coconut oil, this Kerala fish fry is the best! It's delightfully crispy on the outside and succulent inside!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Main Dish, Side Dish
Cuisine: Kerala
Servings: 2 portions


  • 500 grams fish I used two pomfrets

For marinade

  • 1/2 cup shallots a handful
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 4 pods garlic
  • 1 tablespoon kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon vinegar optional

For frying

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon Black pepper powder
  • 1 piece lime wedge
  • 2-3 sprigs curry leaves


  • Blitz the shallots, garlic, ginger, and curry leaves with some water in a blender. I use some vinegar as well, but that's optional.
    Ingredients for the marinade
  • Add the chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and salt, and grind again to get a fine paste.
  • NOTE: This marinade is sufficient for at least 500 grams of fish. I used it for two whole pomfrets.
  • Score the fish making deep gashes 1/2 inch apart. Rub in the marinade to fully coat the fish.
    Fish coated with marinade ready to fry
  • Heat some oil in a pan. We don't want to deep fry the fish, but we need enough oil to cover the base! 🙂
  • When the oil reaches the smoking point, lower the flame to medium, and place two sprigs on curry leaves in the pan.
    Start by frying some curry leaves
  • Now gently place the marinated fish in the pan. Fry on a high flame for a couple of minutes. Lower the flame and continue cooking closed with a lid.
    Fry the fish in a pan with hot oil
  • Open the lid after 10 minutes, sprinkle some black pepper powder, and let it fry for some more time.
  • Our goal is to get the skin to a crispy consistency. Turn around the fish and fry the other side as well. Sprinkle a dash of pepper powder on this side as well.
  • Fry on a high flame again for a minute before taking out the fish using a slotted spoon. If you like you fish fry crispier, keep frying for a few more minutes. Drain all the excess oil using a kitchen towel.
    Fish fry is almost ready
  • Serve hot with a wedge of lime.


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