Butterfish Korma Recipe

Butterfish Korma Recipe
I love seafood to the extent that I could eat it daily. My absolute hands down favorite is butterfish, otherwise known as sablefish or black cod. This delicious fish has a lovely delicate flavor and soft velvety texture. It literally just melts in your mouth. If you have never tasted butterfish before, I highly recommend trying it – trust me, you will love it. But if you are not able to get butterfish in your area, just substitute your favorite fish instead like sea bass, halibut, snapper, monkfish, salmon, cod, sole, grouper, mahi mahi, flounder, tilapia…

Many people mistakenly believe that a “korma” is a mild Indian curry dish. While this may be true, the word korma actually refers to a complex cooking style or technique that involves braising various meats in yogurt, cream or coconut milk. Traditionally, this would have meant placing a heavy pot over a low fire. In addition, hot charcoals would have been placed on top of the lid to ensure even heat and proper cooking. Thankfully, modern times have made cooking this dish much simpler!

The “korma” style of cooking has its origins in Mughlai cuisine. Needless to say, the variations are simply endless. You could easily substitute chicken, vegetables, paneer or any meat of your liking in this recipe. Just note that cooking times will vary accordingly.



1 lb of butterfish fillets, cut into 2” size pieces (I used boneless/skinless fillets)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2-3 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1½” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
2-3 small green Thai chilies, cut in half lengthwise (to taste)
½ cup raw unsalted shelled pistachios (you can use cashew, almonds or a combination of nuts)
1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
1 tsp ground coriander powder
salt & pepper, to taste
2-3 whole cloves
2-3 green cardamom pods, crushed
1” piece of cinnamon
1 bay leaf
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
good pinch of saffron, soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk
1 cup of cream (or yogurt or coconut milk)
juice of ½ lime (or lemon)
2-3 tbsp oil (canola or vegetable), you can use ghee if you prefer
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
2 tbsp unsalted shelled pistachios pieces, toasted for garnish (use whatever nuts you have used in the recipe)


Soak the pistachios (or nuts of choice) in a small bowl of boiling hot water for 15-20 minutes. Drain well and using a blender or food processor, blend into a fine paste using a little cream, yogurt or coconut milk to help along with the blending process.

In a medium size glass mixing bowl, combine the lime juice with ½ tsp of the turmeric, salt & pepper. Stir to combine and then add the butterfish pieces. Marinate for just 8-10 minutes, any longer may affect the taste/texture of the fish.

In a large deep skillet or wok on medium heat, add the oil. When hot, add the whole spices (cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick & bay leaf). Let the spices fry for just a minute before adding the onion. Stir-fry until the onion is soft & translucent and then add the garlic, ginger & green chilies. After a few minutes of stir-frying, add the rest of the turmeric along with the ground coriander powder, salt & pepper. Also, at this point, add the ground pistachio paste along with the cream (or coconut milk).

*If you wish to add yogurt, turn the heat off completely and allow the pan to cool down for just a couple of minutes. If you add the yogurt to a very hot pan, it will curdle. Stir in the yogurt, bring the heat to low & proceed with the recipe as directed below.

Reduce the heat to low and carefully place the fish in a single layer, cover & let simmer for just 6-8 minutes. You may also add the marinating liquid. Do not overcook, the rule of thumb for poaching butterfish is 7-8 minutes/inch cooking time. Remove the lid and shake the pan gently, in lieu of stirring. The butterfish should be opaque, moist and flaky. Add the saffron along with its soaking milk and the freshly grated nutmeg. Carefully shake the pan to evenly distribute the saffron & nutmeg throughout the curry. Now gently transfer the butterfish to a serving dish & spoon the curry over the pieces of fish. Garnish with toasted nuts & cilantro leaves. Serve with fresh rotis or naans and fragrant Basmati rice.

Butterfish Korma photo ButterfishKorma.jpg

You Should Also Read:
Egg Korma Recipe
Vegetable Tofu Korma Recipe
Chicken Korma Recipe

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