Tel Koi/Spicy Koi Fish Curry

“The smaller the tastier”, my Granny told this to me several times about Koi Mach. She had a strong believe (read experience) that small sized Koi fish is much tastier than the big ones, and taste of the curry depends a lot on this factor also. Ma had learned the Tel Koi recipe from her and some factors what granny said to Ma, she memorized them for life. Later, when I asked the recipe, Ma made it sure that I had to follow all those pointers. One major point, according to her the making of spice paste is important here. Why? I asked her and why not ready to use spice powders because they’re easy to use and save a lot of time. Ma told me that we’re not using onion paste here, so, if we use spice powders directly into so much oil (this curry needs a bit more oil to cook than other fish curries, hence the name involves ‘tel’) they may burn and become grainy. Later, they wouldn’t dissolve into the curry and the end result would be an oily curry with visible spice grains which is not desirable. “Ok, fine”, I replied to her and put my old Shil-nora into some good use. Moreover, I cooked this fish curry in my iron wok, just because Granny used to cook this in iron kadai and she got a darker colour of Tel Koi every time, what we loved. The final result was a finger licking good curry what we devoured for lunch with steamed rice and due to rain, the weather was perfect too. 🙂

Here goes the Granny style Tel Koi recipe. I hope you’ll enjoy cooking it just the way I did.

Tel Koi
Tel Koi

Tel Koi/Spicy Koi Fish Curry


  • Koi Mach/ Climbing perch- 700g
  • Tomatoo puree- 4 tbsp (or use paste of 1 large tomato)
  • Mustard oil
  • Cumin seeds- 1 tbsp
  • Coriander seeds- 1tsp
  • Turmeric powder
  • Red chilli powder- ½ tsp
  • Ginger paste- 1 tsp
  • Green chillies- 3-4 (slitted length wise)
  • Salt
  • Garam masala powder- ½ tsp
  • Kalojire/Kalonji/Nigella seeds- ¼ tsp
  • Fresh coriander leaves- 1 tsp (chopped)


Make a smooth paste of coriander seeds and cumin seeds with water by using your electronic spice grinder or alternatively you can use Shil-nora (traditional stone grinder) for this. This step is highly recommended for the authentic taste of the curry. Keep aside.

Rub salt and ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder on the freshly washed Koi fishes. Heat ½ cup oil in a kadai/deep frying pan and fry the fishes on medium flame. Fry each side of the fishes for 2-3 minutes, keep aside. Don’t fry Koi mach for a long time, otherwise, they will become chewy.

There should be 6-7 tbsp of oil in the kadai to make the curry, if not add some more at this stage. Temper with Nigella seeds, once it splutters add the spice paste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, ginger paste, green chillies and salt. Mix and sauté this on a medium heat for 1 minute. Now add tomato puree, mix well, add 1 cup of water. Mix and give this a quick boil on high heat. Add the fish pieces, mix well, reduce the heat, cover and cook on a medium heat for 15 minutes or until the raw smell of masala goes. Add garam masala powder, mix well. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves, remove from heat.

Tel Koi is ready to eat. Serve hot with steamed rice.


If you don’t want to use whole spices (coriander and cumin), the spice paste can be made with spice powders too.

Ingredients of Tel Koi
Ingredients of Tel Koi
Tel Koi
Tel Koi

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