Spicy Tamarind Mackerel Curry with Coriander Rice

There is nothing like a goooood curry to warm you up during winter. I live in a place where on average winter temperatures reach -17 degrees Celsius. Yup, minus seventeen degrees celsius! That is 20 Farenheit degrees.  This winter has been relatively warmer than usual and my Sahelian self is quite grateful. I have special cravings during certain periods and this spicy mackerel curry has been haunting me lately. This easy to follow recipe will yield a delightful spicy tamarind curry made with fresh mackerel. I served mine with fluffy coriander rice. You can also find the video-recipe below. But first let me tell you about the pure goodness found in some of the natural ingredients used.

Mackerel is an oily fish that naturally contains a high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids and proteins, which are essential for wellness. This medical article on the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids provides a thorough review of research showing their crucial role on brain functioning, as well as normal growth and development. These fatty acids deliver great health benefits such as reducing inflammatory pain, risk of heart disease and chronic diseases, as well as improves cognitive function. Another reason I like to cook Mackerel is because it doesn’t require much prepping because it’s a fish without scales. Just ask your fishmonger to clean it out for you and make sure you rinse it out again before cooking.

Tamarind is a lovely sweet and sour fruit found in Africa, Asia, and South America that has many uses, which can be for culinary or medical purpose. It can be eaten in various forms whether raw, cooked, dried, or made into candy. It is naturally packed with anti-oxidants, as well as vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, phosphorous and dietary fibre. There are many health benefits associated with tamarind including anti-inflammatory properties, reducing risk of heart diseases, improving blood circulation and nerve function, to name a few. Growing up in Senegal, tamarind is a local produce we readily use for cooking or snacking. I even remember eating the leaves of the tree we had in our farm. Mind you though, too much of it in its raw state will definitely help your bowel routine

Fresh Tamarind with leaves, image from https://herbologymanchester.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/specimen-of-the-day-tamarind/

When I say “let thy food be thy medicine”, I truly mean it. This curry is only made with the pure goodness of mackerel, tamarind, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and natural spices. If you eat pure foods that carry all the nutrients your body needs to function at an optimal level, you will naturally live a healthier and better lifestyle. It’s quite simple actually and can be achieved with practice. Sure, you can eat whatever you want then take supplements to make up for the lack of nutrients you should naturally ingest. Research has already demonstrated that the best source of nutrients is the natural food source it comes from and not the chemically derived nutrients that were obtained in a lab through various processes. That is one reason why I remain a pescetarian, I would rather obtain my omega-3 and omega-6 naturally, by eating fish that is sustainable and nutrient-rich then by depending on fish oil supplements developed in a lab. To each their own though.


Back to my recipe. I got inspired by this southern-Indian recipe when I was looking for a simple fish curry with ingredients I had available. I modified it significantly based on what I had and what I could work with. Although the ingredients list may seem long, it is rather simple and some ingredients are optional. You’ll need your whole spices (mustard seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, bay leaf) as a flavour base to infuse the oil used to make the curry. You’ll then create a curry base with onions, garlic, ginger, coriander roots and tomatoes. Flavour will be added to your curry base by adding ground spices (turmeric, curry, chilli powder) and dried thyme. Once you have your flavourful curry base ready then you can add your fish and tamarind paste water and let cook until ready. It will be complete once you add your freshly chopped coriander leaves to the finished sauce et voila! I served mine with a simple coriander rice, where I cooked Jasmine Rice and added 2 TBSP of chopped fresh coriander leaves. Save it and give it a try next time you want a delicious homemade fish curry. You won’t be disappointed!

Yields 4 serving

Spicy Tamarind Mackerel Curry

20 minPrep Time

40 minCook Time

1 hrTotal Time

Recipe Image
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  • 1 large Mackerel*, rinsed and cut in half if necessary
  • 1 onion, medium size diced finely
  • 1 roma tomato, large chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 ginger root, 1" thick grated thinly
  • 3 coriander roots, chopped (optional but flavour packed)
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 7 peppercorns (optional)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp chilli powder**
  • 3/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 Tbsp coriander, fresh leaves chopped
  • Tamarind, size of a key lime***
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut oil


  1. Tamarind Preparation: soak tamarind ball in 1.5 cups of boiling hot water for 15 mins; using your hand with a massaging action release the pulp into the water until you have an opaque liquid and fibers of tamarinds; strain it so all you have left is liquid and pulp but no seeds or pods and set aside.
  2. In a large pot on medium heat, melt coconut oil, then add fennel seeds, mustard seeds, black peppercorns and bay leaf. Cover with a lid. Once you hear a popping sound (from the mustard seeds) proceed to next step.
  3. Add in chopped onions, garlic, ginger and coriander roots. Let it cook until onions soften and become translucent, about 5 mins then add your turmeric powder. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, mix well and cover pot with lid. Stir frequently and cook until tomato disintegrates.
  5. Add curry powder, chilli powder, and dried thyme. Mix well and let cook for 4-5 mins until it's fragrant.
  6. Add your mackerel into the pot, followed by tamarind paste water. Mix well, add salt. If sauce looks thick already then add 1/4 cup of water. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  7. Let it come to a simmer, reduce the heat to minimum, cover with a lid and let it cook for 40 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Keep in mind it will thicken a little more after turning off the heat. 2 mins before you turn off the heat, add chopped coriander and mix in.
  8. Serve with rice and enjoy this lovely meal.
Cuisine: Indian | Recipe Type: Vegetarian


*Mackerel fish size: you can use 1 large mackerel or 2 small mackerels and depending on your cooking pot, you may need to cut it in half

**Chilli powder: If you can find Kashmir Chilli at an Indian or Ethnic grocer then use it because it's not as hot but provides a lovely red hue. I used regular chilli powder I had available and used 1 Tsp. Spicy level is subjective so start with 1/2 Tsp and add more up to 1.5 Tsp if you like.

***Tamarind: I used tamarind pulp but if you find pure tamarind paste then feel free to use that as well.


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