Fish Kadhai/Karahi or Fish in Tomato Sauce

Is it Karahi or Kadhai? I get really confused by that.

Fortunately for all concerned I find it infinitely less confusing to make it. My biggest challenge with this dish was extricating pieces of spice laden tomato-y fish from the remarkably strong grip of my 6 month old as she tried to stuff it into her mouth.

Yes, folks, she has her mother’s natural (or is it unnatural?) enthusiasm for food. I just thought that this may not be an appropriate first food for her, best to stick to oatmeal and purees for now.

Anyway, I make my kadhais slightly differently now according to the meat I have. In a traditional chicken or beef karhai the meat gets put in first and I add more spices, but since fish cooks and breaks so easily I put it in last and hold back on garam masala etc. You are welcome to try this version with chicken as well, just add the chicken in right after the garlic, stir fry, then add spices and resume cooking according to directions.

Fish Kadhai
Serves 4

Boneless white fish fillets, 400g-500g
½ tsp turmeric powder
Juice of half a lemon
½ tsp salt for marinade
1 tbsp heaped kasuri methi i.e dried fenugreek leaves
½ tsp kalonji/nigella seeds
½ tsp cumin seed
8 tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp heaped red chilli flakes
5-6 cloves crushed garlic – or  1 tbsp garlic paste
Sprig curry leaves (optional)
2-4 green chillies finely sliced
Handful of chopped cilantro (optional)
A few lugs of vegetable/canola oil for your karhai/wok/saucepan

Cut your fish into fairly large chunks – mine were about 2*2 inches. Too small and they disintegrate fast. Sprinkle them with the turmeric powder, salt, and juice of one lemon and set aside. If you have a ‘fishy’ smelling fish then rinse the spices off and dry before cooking. If not then go ahead and leave them on.

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Warm oil in your pan and roughly chop your tomatoes. When the oil is hot add the seeds i.e. fenugreek, cumin, and kalonji.

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When the cumin darkens and the aroma of kalonji starts wafting through the air then add in the minced garlic and stir fry for a minute. Now it is time for the red chilli flakes and salt. Cook for a minute and then add your diced tomatoes

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Cook the tomatoes on high heat, stirring constantly until they get dark red and caramelly looking. This takes me about 10 minutes in a large wok.

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If you are up for it then taste your spice mix, adjust seasoning if necessary, then place your fish pieces in the pan and gently stir to coat.

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Drop the heat and add in your curry leaves and let it cook until your fish is just done. It is very easy to overcook fish so just be careful. Top with chopped green chillies, cilantro and serve alongside your bread of choice. I like mine with plain ol’ chapatti, but you could always use naan or pita bread.

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17 thoughts on “Fish Kadhai/Karahi or Fish in Tomato Sauce

  1. Karhai is my favorite pakistani food! I’ve never had fish karhai, but that sounds fantastic!
    Btw, real karhai doesn’t have bell peppers in it, and I’m sooo happy that you cook yours without any! I see bell peppers in karhai all the time when we go to eat out and it drives me crazy!
    And cute gold bowl!

  2. I am always looking for new ways to cook fish! Love this recipe!!! Thanks for visiting my blog – made me discover yours!

  3. Pingback: Three Things Thursday – VIII | Flour and Spice

      • Yes it was excellent! I used wild halibut. I have lots of tomatoes in my garden so had cooked them separately until they are a paste. Brings out the sweetness. Perfection, thanks so much for sharing. Will be making it again:)

      • ooh I can’t imagine just how wonderful this would be lovely summery tomatoes! thanks for trying it out 🙂

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