Smoked Salmon Fish Curry (South Indian Fish Curry with a Twist)

This Smoked Salmon Fish Curry is something special! It came about 20 years ago when I was expecting my eldest. Desperate for a South Indian fish curry from home, I was dismayed to find that the only seafood I had, were prawns (shrimp) and smoked salmon.

Read on to find out what happened next!

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Salmon Fish Curry, in a dark bowl, dark picture
Smoked Salmon Fish Curry

Smoked Salmon Fish Curry

Now, did I say I was desperate?! Well, beggars can’t be choosers and all that, I decided I had no choice but to go ahead with what I had in hand. Another banality later (you know, necessity being the mother of invention?), a masterpiece was born, if I must say so myself.

This smoked salmon fish curry is deliciously rich in flavour and aroma. Imagine this:

  • We start with an intensely aromatic base of South Indian spices and herb.
  • To this, we add tangy tamarind that breaks through and lightens the pungency of the spices.
  • Next, comes the creaminess of the coconut milk, which tempers and mellows, without taking away that distinctive identity.
  • Almost there. In goes the meaty, commanding salmon, lending its own inimitable creamy character to the curry.
  • And finally, the pièce de résistance. The smoked salmon adds, well, a smoky flavour and aroma to the curry. It imparts, blends with, yet lifts every single note in this fish curry.

Simply outstanding!

Salmon Fish Curry, in a dark bowl, dark picture
you can use okra or aubergines

Our Fish Curry Ingredients

The Fish

I adore salmon; it’s probably my favourite fish. One may not necessarily think of salmon and curry in the same sentence, but let me tell you, the bold flavours of the salmon and the curry work so well together. The combination of the rich flavours of the curry powder, fresh and smoked salmon is a marriage made in heaven!

If you can’t find either fresh or smoked salmon, or if they are just too expensive (they are here), use any type of fish you like. The type of fish you use is up to you, any firm fish will do and any type of seafood works splendidly too. After all, it started life with prawns, if you recall.

The recipe only calls for a small amount of smoked salmon, added right at the end, to flavour the fish curry. I quite often use smoked salmon trimmings, the tiny slithers are perfect for this. Cheap and cheerful.

Curry Leaves

Click here to read more. Curry leaves are a very South Indian herb and used extensively in the cuisine of the region. If you can’t get them, just leave them out, and finish the curry off with some chopped coriander leaves (cilantro).


Click here to read more. A very popular souring ingredient, as well as snack in many cuisines, tamarind can easily be substituted with lime juice or clear vinegar.

Lemon juice, to me, doesn’t quite have the rounded flavour of these two. The best substitute for tamarind is your clear, regular vinegar. Use 1 tablespoon for the amount of tamarind here.

Coconut Milk

Click here to read more on how to cook with coconut milk. Fresh coconut milk is always best but many of us outside of Asia, unfortunately, do not have this luxury. As with any ingredient, get the best that you can afford, the same goes for coconut milk. Get the one that has the least added ingredients – just coconut milk and water is the best.

If you do have access to freshly grated coconut or frozen grated coconut, you want to get your coconut milk in 2-3 pressings. Head on over to the link above to read more.

How to turn this into a typical South Indian Curry?

Skip the smoked salmon and you’ve got a very typical South Indian fish curry. The sort my granny used to make, and the sort made and sold by countless South Indian stalls in Singapore and Malaysia. The sort I grew up eating, called Meen Kulambu.

fish sothi
Fish Sothi

Tempering, Tarka or Tadka in South Asian Cooking

Many Indian recipes call for a final stage called “tarka” or tempering. This involves the quick frying of some spices in very hot oil and the whole mix is then added to the cooked dish.

This is a natural flavour enhancer, much like the adding of garam masala at the end of cooking Northern Indian and Pakistani dishes. Tempering can be a simple case of just mustard seeds, or a combination of whole spices like here. It can also include dried red chillies and curry leaves, as we do in our Fish Sothi, above.

Getting the heat right for the tempering of the dry spices is crucial. We want medium or medium-high heat, depending on the size of your burner. Small burner = medium-high.

The temperature has to be just right to get the oils and flavour out of the spices. Too hot and they’ll burn and be bitter, not hot enough and the flavours won’t fully be released. Just 30 seconds will do, followed by something moist, like the onion mix, to immediately bring the temperature of the oil down.

In our smoked salmon curry here, I incorporate the tadka into the actual cooking process by starting with it. But we still adhere to the tempering principles above.

Shall we get our aprons on?

If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! Thank you!

And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor.

Lin xx

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Salmon Fish Curry, in a dark bowl, dark picture

Smoked Salmon Fish Curry (South Indian Fish Curry with a Twist)

Get my signature Smoked Salmon Fish Curry, deliciously rich in flavour and aroma. Created 2 decades ago, when I was desperate for home food!
4.91 from 41 votes
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Course: Curries
Cuisine: Fusion, Indian
Keyword: curry, fish curry, indian curry
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 404kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor


Ingredients to be chopped/ground

  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6 cm ginger


Whole Dry Spices

  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ¼ tsp brown or black mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp nigella seeds

Everything else

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp panch phoron
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves leave out, if unavailable
  • 4 Tbsp fish curry powder or any generic shop bought
  • 400 ml coconut milk (1 can) use light, if you like
  • 12 okra, left whole or 1 large eggplant, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes quartered
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 salmon fillets cut into 2-3 chunks
  • 100 g smoked salmon, cut into tiny slices
  • 1 tsp clear vinegar

Additional water if you’d like more gravy.



    • Mix the tamarind and water, mix well with your fingers and set aside. Soak for 5 minutes, if the tamarind is hard and won’t mix.

    Grind the Aromatics

    • Place the onion, garlic and ginger in a chopper, chop to a semi fine state, and set aside.

    Let's get Cooking

    • Heat oil on medium heat and fry the whole dry spices and curry leaves for just 30 seconds, don’t let them burn as the bitter taste will linger until the last drop!
    • Quickly add the onion mix and fry for about a minute until the aroma hits you, then add the curry powder and stir thoroughly. Cook for another minute, stirring.
    • Add the tamarind juice and bring to a gentle boil on the medium heat.
    • Add the coconut milk, stir thoroughly and bring to a simmer, on medium heat.
    • Add the okra, tomatoes and salt and cook for 10-15 minutes, until your okra is almost cooked and almost dark green and soft.
    • Tip in the salmon fillets, again, bring to a simmer, uncovered, and cook for 3 minutes.
    • Add the smoked salmon slices, heat through for a minute and take off heat.
    • Stir in the vinegar, and check seasoning. Add a touch more salt if you think it needs it.
    • If not using curry leaves, sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander leaves.


    Calories: 404kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 585mg | Potassium: 1034mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 615IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 5mg
    Did you make this recipe?Mention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!
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    18 thoughts on “Smoked Salmon Fish Curry (South Indian Fish Curry with a Twist)”

    1. Valerie Lovejoy

      5 stars
      I’m in Washington St. I’m not Indian but I bought some smoked salmon, and I was wondering if there was a coconut, curry smoked salmon recipe, I found this one, Thank you, it smells delicious! I love Indian cooking!

    2. I love curry but we were just so used to just chicken and shrimp. I have never thought about trying smoked salmon but I believe that this is a great idea. So excited to try it that I am grabbing some ingredients today and we’ll have this later tonight. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    3. Elizabeth O

      This sounds like a really lovely dish indeed for those who enjoy salmon. It would be a lovely addition to a dinner party.

    4. Wow, this looks amazing! In fact, this article makes me want to go get some salmon now! Thanks for sharing.

    5. Sumathi Anderson

      Hey Azlin, I made this for dinner last night, and it was simply amazing! I am of South Indian descent but was born in Australia. My mum lives with us, and she couldn’t get enough of it! Your recipe is being distributed amongst our Tamil family here in Adelaide! Just wanted to say thank you.

      1. Your mum wanting seconds is the best praise I can ask for! Tell her I said thank you, and of course, thank you for taking the time to let me know. And for spreading the word.

    6. Robert Davis

      This looks amazing. I love my curries but I don’t think I’ve ever had a south Indian one. Defo making this tomorrow for mates coming over. Thanks Azlin.

    7. Thanks Lin, I remember all the mamak curries from back home. I really want to try this, the smoked salmon in there sounds amazing. Plain rice or prata?

    8. Mads Rosario

      OMG, I need this in my life! It’s been so long since I had a south Indian anything! I was drooling at your description! Thank you, Azlin, planned for Sunday!

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