Barbecued fish on a platter with a side salad, laid out on an orange tablecloth

BBQ masala fish

  • serves 4
  • Easy

Inspired by a Keralan fish fry, this recipe for flaky, succulent sea bass in a rich, spicy masala has been adapted for the barbecue, making it ideal for summer entertaining. Serve with a fresh rice, mango and coconut salad.



  • sea bass or sea bream 1.5kg
  • shallots 2 long, chopped
  • garlic 8 cloves
  • ginger 2 thumb-sized pieces, peeled
  • hot chilli powder 2 tsp
  • smoked paprika 1 tsp
  • black peppercorns ground to make 1 tbsp
  • ground coriander 1 tbsp
  • ground cumin 2 tsp
  • ground turmeric ½ tsp
  • coconut oil 50g
  • fresh curry leaves a handful
  • limes 2, plus extra wedges to serve


  • basmati rice 200g
  • mango 1, peeled, destoned and chopped
  • limes 2, juiced
  • chaat masala 1 tsp
  • coriander a small bunch, chopped
  • coconut chips 35g, toasted
  • spring onions 2, thinly sliced


  • Step 1

    Cut three or four diagonal slashes into each piece of fish, then set aside. To make the masala, put the shallots, garlic, ginger, chilli powder, paprika, black pepper, ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and coconut oil in a food processor, and whizz to a very thick paste. Season the fish, then smear all over with the marinade, really working it into the slashes.

  • Step 2

    Put two overlapping pieces of foil, slightly bigger than the fish, on a worksurface and put the fish and any marinade in the middle, scattering the curry leaves over both sides. Put two more sheets of foil directly on top, then crimp all of the edges together to completely seal in the fish. Chill for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.

  • Step 3

    To make the rice salad, first tip the rice into a small pan with 400ml of water and a pinch of salt. Simmer for 1 minute over a high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 9 minutes, covered with a lid. Remove from the heat and leave to steam for 10 minutes. Cool completely and chill.

  • Step 4

    When you’re ready to cook the fish, finish the rice salad by tossing the cooked rice with the remaining ingredients, except the coconut chips and spring onions. Season and chill until needed.

  • Step 5

    Heat a barbecue to medium-high or the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Cook the fish parcel directly over the coals for 10 minutes, then carefully lay a baking tray on top of the parcel and flip the whole thing over (be sure to wear oven gloves). Cook for a further 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. If using the oven, roast for 30 minutes until just cooked through, then heat the grill to high, remove the top layer of foil and grill until slightly crispy. Top the rice salad with the coconut chips and spring onions, and serve with the fish and lime wedges for squeezing over.

Check out more of our favourite fish recipes and BBQ recipes.

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Nutritional Information

  • Kcals 633
  • Fat 29.2g
  • Saturates 16.8g
  • Carbs 45.6g
  • Sugars 8.8g
  • Fibre 7.3g
  • Protein 42.2g
  • Salt 0.6g