Spicy Masala Salmon (Chettinad Style Fish Fry)

Chettinad Fish FryPan Fried Masala SalmonFish Fry is as important to a Keralite as water is to fish. I apologize if I have said this before in my posts but this is so true!  Rice, Daal with a side of spicy pan fried fish was a very common fare growing up and thankfully due to my ‘fish’loving’ husband, it is quite common in our kitchen too! But Mr is very particular about how he likes his fish fry and he likes to keep it simple – just some salt,turmeric and red chili powder for the marinade and then the pan frying also has to be perfect – on low heat to yield perfectly cooked on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside!  And as you can guess, I readily outsourced this process a.k.a ritual to him very early on after our marriage. Hey why mess with the expert 🙂

I just realized that I never posted this simple recipe here before. I did recently do a video of  it as one of our friends was asking us about it.  Here is the link to that – Simple Fish Fry:


Anyways sorry I digressed..today’s post is about me trying something new with fish fry. Yes it was a risk I took ! What if hubby didn’t like it? But since these days I am eating lots of fish being on a paleo diet, I wanted to try something new.  I recently was browsing Chettinad style chicken recipes on youtube when I also came across chettinad style fish fry. I was instantly motivated to try this since the flavors of fennel and ginger -garlic in the marinade sounded wonderful!

I tried this recipe with Salmon although you can use any other fish too. In fact it turned out very good and I am going to try it with cod fish next! I also think I will try baking the fish next time to get the full flavor of this masala.  I absolutely love this marinade masala and I have plans to use them in many other dishes in the future – loads of possibilities:)

Spicy Masala Salmon (Chettinad Style Fish Fry)

  • Servings: Serves 4-6 served with rice/salad
  • Time: about 30 mins excluding marination time
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


6 -8 pieces of Salmon filet or any other fish (about 1 1/2 lbs of fish), cleaned, scales removed

For the marinade:

  • 6-8 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 of a small red onion or 2-3 pearl onions
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1-2 tsp red chilli powder (1 for mild hot and 2 for hot)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp water

2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil for pan frying

3-4 fresh curry leaves


Pat dry the fish pieces with paper towels and place in a plate/tray.

In a small heating pan, add the whole peppercorns, cumin and fennel and lightly roast them on medium heat for about 1-2 minutes until you get the aroma of the spices. Turn heat off and transfer spices to a blender/food processor. To the same blender, add the rest of the marinade ingredients and blend till you get a smooth paste. Transfer paste to a bowl.

Coat each fish on both sides with the thick marinade paste and place back on plate. Finish coating all pieces this way.  (You can freeze or refrigerate any remaining paste).  Let fish marinate for 15- 30 minutes.

For pan frying, heat a large non stick frying pan adding the oil.  When hot, add the curry leaves and fry them for a minute.  Take them out and keep aside for garnishing.  To the hot oil, add the fish pieces and cook on each side for about 4-5 minutes. Make sure you cook the fish on medium heat (not very high) – you don’t need to cover the pan.

Transfer to a plate. Serve with sliced onions and lemon and the fried curry leaves!

Spicy Masala salmon


Pan Fried Masala Salmon


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17 thoughts on “Spicy Masala Salmon (Chettinad Style Fish Fry)

  1. Jumped over from Shiva’s post — TheShivaSponder – and I am SO sorry I did. 🙂 I’m afraid I have already grown a size just looking at all beautiful pictures on your home page.

    Seriously, everything looks wonderful. I am trying to include more fish in my gluten-free diet, so this post caught my eye. Can’t wait to try it (but I will have to – it’s late, I’ve already had dinner, and the grocery store is no longer open – lol)

    Thanks for sharing.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

  2. Indu, this looks so good. I love fried fish and daal rice too.The fennel seeds in this masala is new to me. Will try it next time.

    • He he Sandhya we both love our seafood right? Yes the fennel is unique here. For me the whole masala was unique since for frying fish we generally keep it simple. But this was wonderful for a change!

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