Achari Tamarind Fish Curry: #SpicyChat Guest Post by the Talented @PukkaPaki

With the temperatures rising in the summer, most of us look at avenues for chilling around or in the water. But there are some of us who drool over about what’s jumping out of the water – fish, seafood, and various tender shellfish.  Moreover with the heat draining us, it’s hard to appreciate heavy meats or meals. To me nothing seems more summery than fresh clams doused in a wine-garlic sauce, or fresh spiced crab cakes with a lemon aioli, and even grilled fish tacos accompanied with a chilled beer or glass of refreshing white wine. Therefore we are dedicating this week’s #SpicyChat theme to ‘Deep Sea Delicacies’.

I am thrilled to announce this week’s #SpicyChat Guest Speaker – the talented Ms. Sumayya of Pukka Paki. She shares the same passion and philosophy for food, especially authentic ethnic cuisine as me. A bit about Sumayya:

Sumayya by trade is a lawyer, who as of April 2012 is pursuing her love for food full time, making her life long fantasy into reality. Yes, dreams do come true! She is spreading her love of Pakistani Cuisine in London and has been seen on:  Madhur Jaffery’s TV show, published in Delicious,VegLiving, GreatBritishChefs, and HELLO!Pakistan.

Sumayya is sharing one of her childhood favorites – Achari Tamarind Fish Curry. A pickle flavored Pakistani fish curry. This one is for all seasoned spice lovers. Over to you Sumayya.


Achari Tamarind Fish Curry – Pickle Flavored Pakistani Fish Curry

Growing up in a coastal city where I was blessed with seawater treasures of the Arabian sea and a country with freshwater fish sourced from the beautiful River Indus – which is steeped in history of the first civilizations known as the Indus Valley civilization. Fishing is one of the main livelihoods of the coastal people. We are lucky enough to source juicy jumbo prawns, crabs, lobster and some regional fish like the Pomfert and Barracuda from the Arabian sea and Pallah fish from the rivers in Hyderabad.

When most people think of Pakistani food they only ever think of meat based dishes but surprisingly our seafood cuisine is rich and the recipes are unique from Indian ones. Lahori fried fish is a local street food delicacy which is coasted with a delicious batter and fried and also spicy prawn karahi’s. My best memories are of crabbing trips from Karachi port where you head out on a boat to catch crabs, which are then prepared for you in a delicious red chili cumin and lemon based masala.

I share with you a recipe of a fish curry, this is one that I grew up with in my home. This recipe is borne from the love of pickle or “achar” as it’s called in Urdu, a condiment that not many Pakistani dining tables would be without. We would go to the fish bazaar in the morning the fish would have only just arrived from the fisheries and be on our plates within a few hours – that’s the beauty of living by a coastal town! This is a dish that brings those ‘achari’ flavors into a fish curry, best made with a solid white fish like halibut or hake – white fish allows the achari flavors to be infused into the fish. The curry itself is not a very watery one.




  • ½ kilo/500 grams of white solid fleshed fish (with bone and skin)
  • Marinate fish in:
  • Juice of one large lemon
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 tsp Kashimiri chilli powder or paste (if unavailable, then add just ½ red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp of tamarind paste
  • ½ cup of sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped into half moons
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • 1-2 dried whole red chilli
  • 1 whole green chilli
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 ½  tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp of lime pickle, chopped up
  • ½ cup natural yoghurt

Grind roughly together:

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds

Some water

Serves 3-5 people, depending on pieces of fish and takes about 45-60 minutes to prepare and cook


  1. Marinate the fish in the marinate spices as above and leave for about 1 hour.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok-style pan on medium heat and fry the onions until medium brown and cooked through. Drain on some kitchen paper and keep aside.
  3. Using the same oil, pop in all the onion and cumin seeds and dried red chilli only. When they start to splutter, add the ginger and garlic and cook until light brown, do not let the ginger and garlic burn. Add the lime pickle now and red and green chillis.
  4. Next add the yogurt and cook on medium heat until the oil separates from the curry sauce and the yogurt is cooked through. Add a splash a water if you feel the curry is getting too thick. Add the fish and onions and cover and cook on low heat until fish is nearly cooked through.
  5. Now sprinkle the ground seeds and leave on low heat, covered. Cook for another 2-3 minutes (until fish is cooked though) on very low heat.
  6. Serve with plain boiled fragrant Basmati rice or naan breads.


I can’t wait to make this spicylicious dish in my own home. It is sure to be an extra special treat!! Thank you so much Sumayya for joining our #SpicyChat foodie group. You can view all of Sumayya’s wonderful recipes via: Pukka Paki Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Do you fancy seafood? What are some of your favorite fish recipes or spices you enjoy working with? Join us today at 8 PM EDT on Twitter to share our common passion for exceptional recipes and good food.

Join Us Every Thursday at 8 PM EDT for #SpicyChat Twitter Chat to bring some spice in your lives! We Love to share ALL recipes. Simply add the #Spicychat hashtag to your link, we will RT and also add your recipes to our Pinterest Board.

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