Masala Fish
Masala Fish
4.99 from 69 votes
A common takeaway favourite, this fish masala is perfectly served with homemade naan and salad. Flaky pieces of fish coated in a spicy batter then fried until crispy and golden brown. What better way is there to combine the flavours of India with the taste of fish?
Fish Masala

Masala Fish! Just the mere mention of this recipe stirs up an orchestra of flavours in my mouth. A dish that has journeyed through the annals of Indian cuisine. Masala Fish is no stranger to households that love a good seafood spread. Its history traces back to coastal regions where fish was abundant and spices were the heart of every meal.

Making the Masala Fish isn’t some grand culinary expedition; it’s reasonably simple. But what sets it apart? The marriage of spices, my dear reader. From the warm tones of turmeric powder to the fiery notes of chilli, each ingredient plays a pivotal role in crafting this masterpiece.

There are countless variations to this beloved dish. Some prefer it a tad spicier, tossing in an extra spoonful of chilli powder, while others may opt for a more tangy profile, generously squeezing lemon. Whatever the twist, the foundation remains consistent: a medley of spices gracing succulent fish.

Its versatility is another feather in its cap. While traditionally served as a starter, I’ve witnessed this dish taking centre stage as the main course, accompanied by salad and the soft embrace of plain naan bread.

In terms of difficulty, I’d place this somewhere between “Let’s whip up something quick!” and “Let’s dazzle our guests tonight!”. It’s not the easiest dish to prepare, given the multitude of spices and the frying process, but with a little patience and passion, it’s a breeze.

Another variant I’ve encountered replaces the olive oil with mustard oil, introducing a new layer of pungency. There’s also the “baked” version for those who are health-conscious or prefer a lighter touch.

Masala Fish is a celebration on a plate. Whether it’s a festive gathering or a simple dinner, this dish never fails to impress. So, roll up your sleeves, prepare your taste buds, and let’s journey through this spicy adventure together!

What Ingredients to Use & Why

To understand the heart and soul of the Masala Fish, one must truly grasp the role of each ingredient. Each element not only contributes to the flavour and aroma of the dish but also tells a story of tradition and culture.

Dive with me as I shed light on why these ingredients are the cornerstones of this delectable recipe and explore the alternatives that can be embraced to tweak it to your preference.

Fish: At the core of our recipe, the fish acts as a canvas, absorbing all the spices and flavours. For Masala Fish, you’d ideally want a meaty, firm fish to withstand the marinating and frying.

While any white fish can be used, alternatives like salmon or even shrimp can provide a different but equally delightful taste experience.

Coriander Seeds: Offering a mild citrusy warmth, coriander seeds are essential to give the masala its distinctive note. If I were to suggest an alternative, ground coriander can be used, though it may alter the texture slightly.

Salt: The great balancer, salt is paramount in highlighting and elevating the flavours of other ingredients. While table salt is commonly used, experimenting with sea salt or pink Himalayan salt can give an added mineral touch.

Chillies (Crushed and Powder): The champions of heat! Crushed chillies bring texture and a burst of spiciness, while chilli powder ensures an even distribution of heat. For those sensitive to spice, bell pepper flakes or paprika could be a milder choice.

Turmeric Powder: Beyond its brilliant yellow hue, turmeric brings a warm, earthy aroma. It’s not just about colour; it’s about depth. If turmeric is absent from your pantry, a pinch of saffron soaked in warm water might be a luxurious alternative.

Lemon Juice: The tang that cuts through the richness! Lemon juice brings freshness and zestiness. An excellent alternative could be lime juice or even a splash of white vinegar for that sour kick.

Garam Masala: This spice blend is the heart of many Indian dishes. Garam Masala adds warmth and depth, with its melange of spices. A combination of cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom could be used if garam masala is unavailable.

Garlic’s pungent, robust flavour is a must. It adds depth and richness. In its absence, finely minced garlic or even garlic powder can be employed.

Gram Flour (Besan): A unique addition, gram flour gives a slight nuttiness and helps in achieving that perfect crust when frying. If besan is elusive, cornflour or rice flour can serve as alternatives, though they might alter the crust’s texture.

Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Methi): With a slightly bitter note, methi complements the other spices beautifully. It’s unique, but in its absence, you could use fresh fenugreek leaves or even a sprinkle of celery leaves for a different twist.

Olive Oil: Used for frying, olive oil is heart-healthy and brings its own subtle flavour. However, for a more authentic taste, one might consider mustard oil. If you’re after a neutral taste, canola or sunflower oil can be your go-to.

It’s essential to appreciate that while each ingredient has its role, they come together in a harmonious dance to create the Masala Fish we adore. It’s a symphony of flavours and textures, a testament to the culinary magic that happens when the right ingredients meet passion and tradition.

Exploring the Magic of Coriander in Indian Cuisine

Coriander! The unsung hero of Indian dishes. When I think of Indian cuisine, it’s hard to imagine a dish that doesn’t pay homage to this versatile spice. And why not? With its mild, citrusy undertones, it’s like the best supporting actor in a culinary blockbuster.

Indian cuisine is no stranger to spices. They form the backbone, the DNA if you will, of the flavours we associate with dishes from this vibrant subcontinent. But coriander, both in seed and leaf form, holds a special place in my heart and kitchen.

Let’s begin with the seeds. Dry and spherical, these little balls of flavour might appear unassuming. However, once they hit the pan and begin to release their aroma, it’s as if a magical spell engulfs the kitchen.

This magic isn’t restricted to just Indian meals. I’ve used coriander seeds in everything from marinades for meats to dressings for salads.

Interestingly, while many spices lose their charm when transitioning from seed to powder, coriander is a delightful exception. The powder retains the warmth and citrusy notes of the seeds and makes it easier to infuse its essence into gravies and sauces.

Now, if the seeds are the magical spell, the leaves, commonly known as cilantro, are the enchanting symphony.

Their sharp, fresh aroma adds a dimension to dishes that’s quite unparalleled. From garnishing to becoming the main ingredient in chutneys and sauces, these leaves are nothing short of culinary gold.

One can’t help but notice the global footprint of coriander. From the tantalizing tacos of Mexico, where cilantro reigns supreme, to the spicy curries of Southeast Asia,

 it’s a globe-trotting spice. And yet, every cuisine, every dish seems to have its own unique relationship with coriander. Such is its versatility!

I’ve also unearthed some interesting tidbits about coriander. For instance, it’s believed to have properties that aid digestion. So, the next time you enjoy that heavy Indian meal, you know who to thank for not feeling overly stuffed!

The Art and Nuance of Perfectly Frying Fish

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my countless culinary escapades, it’s this: frying fish is both an art and a science. The perfect fried fish is a delicate balance of crispiness on the outside and soft, flaky meat within. And achieving this? Well, let’s dive into it!

First, the fish itself. Choosing the right fish can set the stage for your frying success. Meaty and firm fish, like the one in our Masala Fish recipe, are often the top contenders. They hold up well to the rigours of frying without disintegrating into the oil.

Next comes the marination. A fish, especially when paired with spices like in Indian cuisine, is like a sponge. It soaks up flavours, making the marination process crucial. I’ve often let my fish marinate for a couple of hours, allowing the spices to penetrate deep and the flavours to meld.

But here’s where the real challenge starts: the actual frying. The temperature of the oil is the unsung hero in this story. Too hot, and you risk burning the exterior while leaving the interior undercooked.

Too cold, and you’re left with an oily, soggy mess. I’ve often tested my oil with a small piece of the batter or masala. If it rises immediately with bubbles around it, the oil is ready to embrace the fish.

Patience, my dear reader, is key. I’ve often been tempted to crank up the heat to speed up the process, but resist the urge! Medium heat ensures even cooking, giving you that coveted crispy exterior and perfectly cooked interior.

The final touch? Draining the excess oil. Lay out some kitchen paper towels and place the fried fish on them. It helps in absorbing any extra oil, ensuring that what you bite into is pure, unadulterated crispy goodness.

I’ve realized that frying fish is not just about following a set of steps. It’s about understanding and appreciating the nuances, about forging a connection with the ingredients and the process. The result? A plate of fried fish that’s not just food, but an emotion.

The Elevation of Dishes with Chilli’s Heat

Diving into the realm of spicy food, there’s a zesty friend that I always rely on to kick up the heat: chillies. In many cultures and especially in Indian cuisine, the presence of chilli, in various forms, is undeniable. It’s the silent flame that burns bright, elevating dishes to fiery heights.

My initial foray into the world of spices taught me that there’s more to chillies than just the heat. They bring colour, depth, and a certain piquancy that’s hard to replicate.

The bright red hue of Chilli Powder is not just visually appealing; it adds a depth of flavour that is distinctively rich. Crushed Chillies, on the other hand, offer a rustic touch, often giving a burst of spiciness with every bite.

While my adventures with the Masala Fish celebrated the fiery dance of chillies, I’ve come to realize that the world of this spice is vast and varied. Different varieties bring unique heat levels and flavours.

From the smoky undertones of chipotle to the fruity punch of habaneros, every chilli has a story to tell.

Chillies are also incredible when it comes to health benefits. They can boost metabolism, reduce pain, and even alleviate migraines. So, every time I bite into a spicy dish and feel the heat coursing through me, I know there’s a lot more going on than just tantalizing my taste buds.

The Golden Glory of Turmeric in Cooking

Turmeric! Where do I even begin with this golden spice? Every time I sprinkle that vibrant yellow powder into a dish, it feels like I’m adding a touch of sunshine. It’s been a staple in my spice cabinet and plays a pivotal role, especially in dishes like the Masala Fish.

Turmeric, or Haldi as it’s traditionally known, has a legacy that stretches back thousands of years. It’s not just a spice; it’s a symbol. Used in rituals, ceremonies, and of course, cooking, this spice is deeply entrenched in Indian culture.

Now, every time I use turmeric in my cooking, it’s not just for the colour. The mild, earthy, and somewhat peppery taste complements various ingredients, enhancing their natural flavours.

The Masala Fish recipe, marries well with the zesty lemon, the spicy chillies, and the aromatic garam masala, creating a harmonious blend that sings on the palate.

Beyond the kitchen, turmeric holds a revered place in the world of natural remedies. Its anti-inflammatory properties are the stuff of legends. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is often hailed for its myriad health benefits. From glowing skin to boosting immunity, this spice wears many hats.

While the world has woken up to the benefits of turmeric, with turmeric lattes and supplements flooding the market, for me, its true charm lies in its raw, unadulterated form.

Ground from dried rhizomes, the turmeric powder in my kitchen is a connection to the past, a nod to age-old traditions, and a vibrant addition to my culinary adventures.

A Symphony of Flavours with Garam Masala

Embarking on my culinary journeys, I’ve often turned to a special blend that never fails to infuse a dish with an aroma that’s nothing short of magical. Enter, Garam Masala. This spice blend is the heart of many Indian dishes, and, I must admit, it holds a special place in my spice rack.

One of the things that intrigue me about Garam Masala is that it’s not just one spice, but a fusion of several. Cloves, cardamom, cumin, and coriander are just a few components of this enchanting mix.

 The beauty of this blend is that, while each spice is powerful in its own right, together they create a melody of flavours that’s unparalleled.

In my Masala Fish recipe, Garam Masala plays a pivotal role. It adds depth and complexity to the dish that can’t be achieved with any other spice. While the chillies bring heat and the turmeric adds colour, Garam Masala wraps them up in a warm, aromatic embrace.

The name ‘Garam Masala’ literally translates to ‘hot spices’. But it’s not about chilli heat. Instead, it refers to the warmth the spices provide, akin to the warmth of a cosy blanket on a cold day.

Every time I use this blend, it feels like I’m invoking the culinary spirits of ancient Indian chefs, letting them guide my hand and palate.

The Understated Elegance of Olive Oil

There’s something undeniably elegant about Olive Oil. It’s not just another cooking medium for me, but a culinary gem.

I’ve often found myself captivated by its golden hue, pouring it into pans, drizzling it over salads, and marvelling at its silky texture. In dishes like the Masala Fish, it serves as the perfect medium to cook the fish to perfection.

Olive Oil comes from the humble olive, a fruit native to the Mediterranean. But its journey from the groves of Spain, Italy, and Greece to my kitchen has been nothing short of epic. Throughout history,

 Olive Oil has been a symbol of peace, wisdom, and victory. Today, it stands as a testament to the rich culinary traditions of the Mediterranean region.

When cooking with Olive Oil, I’ve noticed a distinct enhancement in the flavours of the ingredients.

Its subtle, fruity notes complement the spices, especially in a recipe as nuanced as the Masala Fish. It’s not just about frying; it’s about infusing the fish with an essence that’s deeply Mediterranean yet wonderfully universal.

The health benefits of Olive Oil are also something I can’t gloss over. Rich in monounsaturated fats and packed with antioxidants, it’s a heart-friendly oil. Every time I pour it into a dish, I’m reminded that good food isn’t just about taste; it’s about nourishing the body and soul.

Olive Oil isn’t just a background character. It’s a protagonist, leading the way to healthier, tastier, and more refined dishes. Whether it’s a simple salad or a complex dish like Masala Fish, with Olive Oil, there’s always a touch of Mediterranean sunshine on my plate.

Besan (Gram Flour): A Flour With A Flair

Every time I reach for the container labelled “Besan” on my pantry shelf, I’m whisked away on a culinary journey through India’s diverse landscape. Besan, or gram flour, is not your ordinary flour. Made from ground chickpeas, it’s got a unique taste and versatility that has consistently surprised me.

For a dish like Masala Fish, besan plays a dual role. Firstly, it acts as a binding agent for the spices, ensuring that every piece of fish is well-coated and bursting with flavour. Secondly,

 when fried, besan gives the fish a crispy exterior, contrasting beautifully with the tender insides. That crunch, that delightful crispness, is the magic of besan at play.

But besan’s story doesn’t end with the Masala Fish. Oh no. From the savoury ‘pakoras’ that are a staple during Indian monsoons to the sweet ‘besan laddus’ that grace many festive occasions, this flour wears many hats. And let’s not forget its role in vegan cooking, acting as an egg substitute in various dishes.

Beyond its culinary uses, besan has found its way into beauty regimens, being hailed for its natural exfoliating properties. So, while it dazzles taste buds in the kitchen, it also works wonders on the skin.

An Ode to Fenugreek Leaves (Methi)

Among the many herbs and spices that grace my kitchen, dried fenugreek leaves, commonly known as ‘methi’, always evoke a sense of nostalgia. These leaves, with their distinct aroma, transport me to winter mornings where fresh fenugreek leaves would be sun-dried on terraces across Indian households.

Incorporating methi into the Masala Fish recipe was a choice borne out of a desire for depth. You see, methi has this incredible ability to provide a bitter yet sweet undertone to dishes. It’s this bittersweet symphony that makes the fish sing, giving it a character that’s both earthy and ethereal.

But methi isn’t just a one-trick pony. It stars in numerous other dishes, from the creamy ‘methi malai paneer’ to the wholesome ‘methi paratha’. Every dish it graces, it transforms, adding layers of flavour that are as complex as they are delightful.

And there’s more to methi than meets the eye. Rich in vitamins and minerals, it’s often considered a boon for those looking to control blood sugar levels. Plus, its anti-inflammatory properties make it a staple in traditional medicine.

Using methi in my cooking is like weaving a tapestry of traditions, flavours, and memories. It’s a humble herb, but its impact is anything but. Whether it’s the Masala Fish or any other dish, with methi, there’s always a touch of heart-warming nostalgia on my plate.

The Spice of Life: Unpacking Turmeric

Few spices have captivated me as deeply as turmeric, known as “haldi” in many Indian kitchens. Its bright yellow hue is more than just a colourant for dishes; it’s a marker of a rich culinary and medicinal legacy that spans centuries.

When I incorporated turmeric into my Masala Fish, it wasn’t merely for its delightful colour. Turmeric brings with it a subtle earthiness, a hint of warmth that melds seamlessly with the other spices. It’s this backdrop of flavour that allows the other spices to shine while holding its own ground.

But beyond the kitchen, turmeric has tales to tell. As a child, I would see it being applied to cuts and bruises, owing to its incredible antiseptic properties. It was also a star in many beauty regimes, believed to impart a natural glow to the skin.

Its medicinal properties don’t end there. Turmeric is rich in curcumin, a compound celebrated for its anti-inflammatory benefits. From potentially warding off heart disease to possibly aiding in depression treatment, turmeric stands tall as a superfood.

And let’s talk about the famed ‘golden milk’ or turmeric latte that has taken the world by storm. It’s a testament to turmeric’s global appeal, bridging cultures and continents.

A Splash of Tang: Lemon Juice’s Culinary Dance

Lemon juice is not just a condiment in my kitchen; it’s a game-changer. It’s the last-minute flourish that can take a dish from good to great. While many might see it as a mere souring agent, I regard it as a canvas of culinary possibilities.

Incorporating lemon juice into the Masala Fish was, to put it simply, a stroke of genius. The fish, with its tender flakes, found a dance partner in the tangy and vibrant notes of lemon. While the spices bring heat and depth, lemon juice adds a freshness, a burst of zing that lifts the entire dish.

And it’s not just about flavour. The acidity in lemon juice can gently break down the proteins in the fish, making it even more succulent. It acts as a tenderizer, ensuring that every bite is a harmonious blend of crispness and tenderness.

Outside the realm of Masala Fish, lemon juice has always been my go-to for dressings, marinades, and even beverages. Who can resist the allure of a chilled lemonade on a hot summer day?

Moreover, lemons are a treasure trove of vitamin C, an antioxidant powerhouse. So, every time I squeeze a lemon into my dishes, I’m also infusing them with a dash of good health.

Lemon juice is more than a kitchen staple for me. It’s an elixir, an unsung hero that celebrates the essence of life – fresh, vibrant, and endlessly invigorating.

Check Out These Other Recipes

While I was preparing my Masala Fish the other evening, my mind wandered to some other sumptuous appetisers that would be perfect to accompany it. My thoughts first went to the alluring scent of Fish Tikka – its smoky aroma and tender morsels never fail to get my taste buds dancing.

Then, of course, there’s the Chicken Tikka Wings; their blend of spices and succulent texture make them a heavenly bite, and I can’t help but recommend them.

However, as I thought about those sizzling appetisers, I couldn’t help but remember the Vegetable Pakora. When I’m in the mood for something light yet bursting with flavours,

this crispy treat is my go-to. And speaking of flavours, have you ever tried the Fish Pakora? Oh, let me tell you, it’s a game-changer! Its crispy exterior paired with tender fish inside creates a symphony of textures in your mouth.

Finally, no list of mine would be complete without mentioning Chicken Chapli Kebab. When cooked just right, these kebabs melt in your mouth and leave a lingering taste that’s hard to forget.

I’d love to know what you think of these dishes when you give them a try! And if you’ve already indulged in any of them, do drop a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Fish Masala

Fish Masala

by Nabeela Kauser
A common takeaway favourite, this fish masala is perfect served with homemade naan and salad. Flaky pieces of fish coated in a spicy batter then fried until crispy and golden brown.
4.99 from 69 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Appetiser
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Servings 4
Calories 174 kcal


  • 500 g Fish Cod
  • 1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Crushed Chillies
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder Haldi
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 2 tsp Garlic Paste
  • 1 tbsp Gram Flour Besan
  • 1 tsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves Methi
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil


  • Chop the fish into small pieces then pat dry thoroughly to ensure that the fish will be crispy
  • Add the rest of the ingredients into a bowl and mix until well combined
  • Add the fish into the mixture and spread all over the fish
  • Heat a pan with oil for deep frying until medium-hot ensuring that the oil is not too hot – to test this you can add a drop of the masala into the pan, and it should rise with tiny bubbles surrounding it
  • Add the fish into the pan – there should be tiny bubbles surrounding them – and allow them to cook undisturbed for 5 minutes until golden brown before flipping and allowing to cook for another 5 minutes until golden brown on the other side
  • Serve as a starter or as a main with salad and plain naan bread!



Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 174kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 26gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 63mgSodium: 665mgPotassium: 455mgFibre: 2gSugar: 0.4gVitamin A: 298IUVitamin C: 3mgVitamin D: 4µgCalcium: 32mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Cooking, Fish, Food, Fried, Masala, Ramadan, Recipe, Seafood
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!
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1 year ago

5 stars
Hi what fish did you use for this?

Last edited 1 year ago by Momna
2 months ago

5 stars
It was wonderful! I used a little less chili powder. We had it with a salad and rice.

Cook with Nabeela

Hi, I'm Nabeela!

I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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