Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Mackerel Curry Recipe

Both Eileen and Nil wanted to know how I make my mackerel curry, so I am posting my "recipe".   I really don't use precise amounts of ingredients, but I tried to estimate how much of what I put in, because my daughter used to hate it when she'd ask me how to cook something and I'd say, "some onions, some tomatoes, some curry powder", etc.  (But now that she's been cooking for herself for over 5 years, she cooks the same way I do - some of this and some of that!  LOL.)

I use canned (tinned) mackerel packed in either water or brine.  I can find mackerel in water at the grocery store; the ones I buy at the dollar store tend to be packed in brine.  If I buy the ones in brine, I don't add any additional salt to the dish.  I don't discard the liquid the fish is in; I use that for my gravy.  But, you may discard it, if you prefer, and use fresh water and milk to make the gravy, or, only the milk (either coconut milk or regular milk).

1 can mackerel, packed in water or brine
1 small onion or half a larger onion, sliced (you can add more if you really like onions)
1 tomato, chopped or sliced (again, add more if you like lots of tomato)
1 green chili, sliced (remove seeds or omit if you don't want it too spicy)
2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 small piece of ginger
1 sprig (several leaves) of curry leaves (can substitute a bay leaf if needed)
1 piece pandan leaf (optional, don't worry if you don't have it)
1-2 heaped teaspoons of curry powder (I use a mixture of dark roasted and yellow curry powder; my daughter tends to use turmeric instead of yellow curry powder)
1 tsp chili powder (adjust to how spicy you want the curry; can add less chili powder and add paprika for color, if you like); yes, I add both chili powder and green chilies to my curries
1-2 whole cloves
1-2 whole pods of cardamom
1/2 - 1 can coconut milk (can substitute regular milk, if needed)
1-2 table spoons of oil
1/2 lemon (or a lime)
Salt to taste (if needed)

Saute the onions and tomato in the oil, add the green chili, garlic and ginger, curry leaves and pandan leaf and saute for about a minute.  Add the liquid from the can (or water) and the coconut milk (or regular milk), add the curry powder, chili powder, cloves and cardamom, and bring to a boil; reduce the heat and let the gravy simmer for about 5 minutes.  I add the fish at the very end, and simmer only until the fish is warmed through, since it is already cooked.  That way, the fish stays whole (unless you wish to break it apart).  The final step is to add lemon juice.  I add lemon because I have lemons growing in my garden; one can add lime juice, if preferred.

Now, the short-cut method, which I've been known to use, occasionally, is to skip the sauteing of the onions and tomatoes, etc., just dump the liquid from the can into a saucepan, add all the ingredients other than the fish and lemon juice, bring the gravy to a boil, add the fish and lemon juice!  That's what I did the other night!  My daughter was shocked when I told her I did that, because she does the sauteing, etc., the way I told her to do.  I've even been known to omit the garlic and ginger, on occasion (often when I don't have these ingredients on hand).  It still makes a very good curry, in my opinion. 

I hope you make this curry and enjoy it.


  1. I have never bought canned mackerel but I might have to give this a try!

    1. Canned mackerel is a frugal way to add fish to a meal. It doesn't taste like fresh mackerel, the same way canned tuna doesn't taste the same as fresh tuna. I hope you try it, Anne. You can omit the onions, if you like (I know you don't eat a lot of onions on your keto diet).

  2. Thank you Bless. :)
    This sounds so delicious. I have everything except canned mackerel, so I will buy some when I do grocery shopping this weekend.

    I'm also 'some of this' and 'some of that' type of cook. My mom is the same. I only measure things if I follow a recipe from a book etc. Once I'm comfortable with the recipe I go back to my method. :)

    1. I hope you try it and like it, Nil. I always think that curries, stews, soups, etc., lend themselves very nicely to having ingredients varied and a bit of this and a bit of that type of cooking. :)

  3. It should be obvious that I don't make curries because some of those spices and herbs I don't even know about. I have powdered curry and powdered chili. I doubt I have seen sprigs of curry leaves, cardamon pods, or pandan leaf. Ha. It sounds like you know what you're doing. Have you done this before?

    1. Ha, ha, Susan, I'll let you into a little secret - you'd still be able to make a good curry with only the curry powder and chili powder! The cardamoms and cloves add a little extra flavor, but they are not essential. Curries tend to vary with the cook - one of my friends adds cinnamon sticks to her mackerel curry, but I don't.

      Have I done this before? Um, yes, I guess I have, a couple of times, at least! :D

  4. Thank you for writing this out Bless. The milk content will be an issue for me so will have to try using oat milk, or maybe change it to a tomato sauce. I will report back when I've made it.

    1. Eileen, if you are allergic to coconut milk, etc., then, you just might be able to omit it, altogether. You'll just have a thinner gravy. I'd add more onions to offset that, as the onions cook down to thicken the gravy.


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