This panch phoron curry is written by chef Romy Gill. She says..."I had the best of both worlds, growing up in Bengal as part of a Punjabi family. Fish and rice is the staple diet of the Bengalis – this dish is not only delicious but comforting and full of flavour, too. It does take a while to make, but it’s worth the effort. It’s sweet, spicy and has perfect warmth from the chilli. When making any Indian sauce with coconut milk, use the full-fat version as it is key to the taste and look of the dish.


  • 1 tsp panch phoron, see notes below
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 500g hake, skinless and cut into large pieces
  • to serve basmati rice


  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • a thumb-sized piece 
ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 20g fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp red Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 4 tsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 400g pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces


  • STEP 1

    Mix together the panch phoron, ground turmeric and salt, rub well into the fish pieces and chill.

  • STEP 2

    Put all of the sauce ingredients, except the coconut oil and pineapple, in a food processor and whizz until really smooth.

  • STEP 3

    Heat the coconut oil in a wok and add the paste. Cook over a medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the paste starts to caramelise and darken. Pour in 500ml of water, add the pineapple and simmer for 30 minutes. If the sauce is not fully cooked out it will smell of raw onion.

  • STEP 4

    Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Put the hake on a baking-paper-lined tray and cook for 6-7 minutes or until just cooked through. Add to the sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes. Take off the heat, put on a lid and leave for 30 minutes to infuse before gently reheating to serve with rice.

To make your own panch phoron combine equal parts untoasted whole fennel seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds. You could also buy ready-made from Indian supermarkets.

Discover more of our best fish curry recipes here...

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Romy is a British/Indian chef, food writer, author and broadcaster.


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