Oriya Fish Curry Recipe

Oriya Fish Curry Recipe
Oriya Cuisine is not very well known to most people and very little is known about it outside of India. Located on the eastern coast of India, Orissa is one of India’s most picturesque states. Oriya food is usually characterized as delicate and mildly spiced. Local ingredients and über fresh seafood especially, are a large part of the typical Oriya diet. This particular dish is a personal favorite of mine, feel free to substitute shrimp but keep in mind that the cooking times will vary.

White poppy seeds (made into a paste) are commonly used in Oriya curries for both flavor & as a thickener. White poppy seeds are readily available in any Indian grocery store.

Feel free to use your favorite variety of fish for this recipe such as salmon, tilapia, sole, cod, halibut, flounder, sea bass, snapper, mahi-mahi, swordfish, grouper, haddock… I used red snapper fillets.



6 firm fish fillets
¼ cup of white poppy seeds (soaked in enough warm milk to cover for at least 1 hour)
2-3 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (to taste)
3-4 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1½” piece of ginger, finely grated
1-2 tsp turmeric (haldi), divided
½ tsp red chili powder, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tsp cumin seeds

1 bay leaf

1 cinnamon stick (about 2” in length)
2-3 green cardamom pods, gently crushed
2-3 black cloves

¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp cumin powder

½ tsp garam masala 

2+ tbsp oil (vegetable or canola), as needed
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish


Gently rub the fish fillets with a combination of 1 tsp of the turmeric, red chili powder, salt & pepper. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes.

In a large deep skillet on medium high heat, add the 2 tbsp of oil. When hot, carefully shallow fry the fish fillets until they are golden brown & crispy on both sides. Drain well on absorbent paper towels & set aside until needed.

Grind the white poppy seed/milk mixture together into a fine thick paste & set aside until needed.

Now to the same pan, add another tbsp or so of oil – only if needed. When hot, add in the green chilies along with the garlic & ginger. Let fry for a few minutes & then add in the whole spices: cumin seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, green cardamom pods, black cloves & nutmeg. Next, add in the remaining tsp of the turmeric and the ground cumin powder. Let cook while stirring until fry the oil begins to separate & leave the sides of the skillet. At this point, add the ground poppy seed paste and mix well. Let cook for 4-5 minutes before gently adding the fish pieces back to the pan. Now add about ½-1 cup or so of water, as needed. This is a rather thick curry, so do not add too much water. Season with salt & pepper, if needed. Finish the dish by adding the garam masala, cover & cook for 2-3 minutes. Garnish with the cilantro leaves, serve with fresh rotis & fragrant Basmati rice.

Oriya Fish Curry photo OriyaFishCurry.jpg

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Oriya Chicken Recipe

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