The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais & Machli Ka Salan (Fish Curry)

“I suspect my destiny was written from the very start, for my first sensation of life was the smell of machli ka salan, a spicy fish curry, rising through the floorboards to the cot in my parents’ room above the restaurant.” ~The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

Machli Ka Salan (Fish Curry)


about 1 pound of fish fillet (firm white fleshed fish)

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 medium onion, sliced

4-5 cloves garlic

1 inch piece ginger

1 cup yogurt or coconut milk

1 teaspoon green cardamon seeds, crushed

2 black cardamoms

2-3 cloves

A pinch of carom seeds

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon red chili powder

1 teaspoon garam masala powder

1/4 cup vegetable oil


  1. Marinate fish in salt, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and lemon juice for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a deep pan. Fry onions until golden brown. Remove from oil and add to a blender or food processor with ginger, garlic and yogurt. Make a smooth paste.
  3. Add the dry spices, green cardamom seeds, black cardamoms, cloves, bay leaf, carom, turmeric, and chili powder to the oil in pan. Saute for 2 minutes or till the spices don’t smell raw.
  4. Add the yogurt paste to the pan. Keep cooking for 7-8 minutes or till the masala separates from oil.
  5. Add the fish pieces to the masala. Keep spattering a little water, a few tablespoons at a time to keep the fish and masala from sticking at the bottom.
  6. Once the fish has been added to the masala, don’t use the spoon to move it around or the fish pieces will break. To stir grasp the pot by the handles with pot holders and swivel the pan.
  7. Cook like this uncovered for 5 minutes or till the fish changes color. Add 1 and 1/2 cups of water, cover the pan, reduce heat to minimum. Let the broth simmer for another 5-7 minutes.
  8. Garnish with green chili peppers, coriander, and garam masala. Serve hot with steamed rice.


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