Fish Head Curry Recipe: How To Make Authentic Fish Head Curry

Fish Head Curry Recipe : How To Make Authentic Fish Head Curry At Home

The thought of Fish Head Curry is enough to make everyone’s mouth water. Fish Head Curry is one of Malaysian’s most favourite dishes, enjoyed by citizens of all races. With every order of this dish, you would commonly see diners pairing it with a plate of steamed rice.

What makes the Fish Head Curry so irresistible is the aromatic spices and taste of the curry gravy itself; followed by the meat of the fish that is so tender, it falls off the bone! Not to mention the assorted vegetables that go well with it. This dish is incredibly popular in Malaysia and Singapore. With South Indian origins, it uses a variety of ingredients and spices to make it a flavourful curry dish.

You can often find this dish at Indian eateries like ‘mamak’ or banana leaf rice shops. However, let’s show you a way on how to make an authentic Fish Head Curry from home!


Origin of Fish Head Curry

Fish Head Curry is a dish loved by Indonesians, Malaysians and Singaporeans. It was also said to have a mix of Indian and Chinese origin. The Fish Head Curry is believed to be invented by chef M.J. Gomez from Kerala, India; who adopted the dish to bring South Indian cuisine to diners in Singapore. Although the fish head was not widely served in India, the Chinese community considered it to be a special delicacy. Hence, chef M.J. Gomez had the idea and cooked the fish head in curry instead.

Today, Fish Head Curry has become a popular dish, with the Malays, Indians, Chinese and Peranakan communities serving their variations of Fish Head Curry.

Fish Head Curry Recipe: How To Make Authentic Fish Head Curry At Home

Fish Head Curry is a popular food enjoyed by many. There will be a few components to prepare in making this flavourful dish. But don’t worry! Here’s a simple, made-from-scratch recipe for a fragrant, one-pot fish meal, that will be enough to fill you for a whole day!



6 servings

Prep time

30 minutes

Cooking time

30 minutes


539 kcal


  • Fish Head Curry Components:
  • 1 fish head (600g-750g), cut into half

  • 3 sprigs of curry leaves

  • 2 stalks of lemongrass

  • 30 cm eggplant, cut into 5 cm sections

  • 3 tomatoes, cut into wedges

  • Oil (as needed to cook)

  • The Curry Spice Paste (to blend) :
  • 10 shallots, peeled and cut

  • ½ large onion, peeled and cut

  • 3.8 cm ginger knob, peeled and cut

  • 2.5 cm turmeric knob, peeled and cut

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 4 tbsp of fish curry powder

  • 3 to 5 tbsp of chilli paste

  • 2 tsp of salt

  • 1 tbsp of sugar

  • The Curry Sauce :
  • 500 ml of thick coconut milk (mixed with 750 ml of
    water to create thin coconut milk)

  • 200 ml of thick coconut milk

  • 3 tbsp of heaped tamarind paste
    (mixed with 125 ml of water), strained

  • Water (as needed)

  • Salt and sugar (to taste)


  • Place the shallots, onion, garlic, ginger, and turmeric in a food processor or blender. Add 2 tbsp of oil to grease the blade, and blend until a smooth paste is formed.
  • Then, add curry powder and chilli paste (depending on how spicy you want it, add between 3 to 5 tbsps), and pulse until well combined.
  • Then, add curry powder and chilli paste (depending on how spicy you want it, add between 3 to 5 tbsps), and pulse until well combined.
  • Stir in the salt and sugar into the paste.
  • Then, let the spice paste cook through for 10 minutes or longer until it becomes fragrant and aromatic.
  • When the oil starts to float to the top, and bubbles at the edges of the paste; stir in the lemongrass and curry leaves. Then, stir-fry it again for a minute or until it is fragrant.
  • Next, stir in the thin coconut milk and tamarind juice. Increase the heat to medium-high and allow the mixture to simmer. After that, add in the eggplants and let it simmer again for a few minutes.
  • When the eggplant starts to soften, stir in the ladies fingers and tomatoes. Then, add in the fish head halves with the cheek side facing up. Add a little extra water if the sauce becomes too thick, or when it is not enough to coat the fish head for cooking.
  • Then, cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until the fish head is cooked through.
  • You can also do a taste test: if you prefer the curry to be more rich-tasting or creamy, add thick coconut milk until you reach the desired level of creamy richness. Lastly, you can add salt and sugar to taste.
Note :
If you are not comfortable with a fish head in your dish, you can also opt to use fish fillets. The best type of fish to cook Fish Head Curry with is the Red Snapper as they are fine and tender in texture. If you are not able to find this fish, the next best option is garoupa or grouper, though these may be flakier in texture.

Ways To Enjoy Fish Head Curry


Fish Head Curry is best enjoyed with a plate of steamed rice. Some people can even make do with only rice paired with this curry dish, without any other side dishes. Besides that, you can also enjoy the Fish Head Curry with bread, or as a shared dish. For a more fulfilling meal, you can pair it with a side of vegetables too. Overall, the Fish Head Curry is a great dish for a hearty meal that will leave you satisfied for a whole day!

We hope you find this recipe helpful! For other recipes on local Malaysian delights, explore Lokataste Recipe for more!


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