Instant Pot Fish Coconut Curry

October 2, 2017 (Updated: April 18, 2019) By Aneesha |

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White flaky fish simmered in sweet and creamy coconut milk, seasoned with fragrant Indian spices, that’s all there is to this simple and delicious recipe for Instant Pot Fish Coconut Curry!

Growing up in the suburbs of Delhi, we didn’t cook fish very often.  Since access to fresh water fish was limited, we ate fish mostly in restaurants.   I still remember, we used to go this hole-in-the-wall kinda place that served South-Indian non-vegetarian delicacies and one of them was Fish Coconut Curry, and I just LOVED it!   It was a light fish prepared in a coconut milk broth with aromatics and tons of curry leaves and served over a mountain of steamed white rice.  A simple, yet a very satisfying meal!

Try, Try and I ‘Finally’ Succeeded!

It took me years to perfect this dish.  Since it wasn’t a written down recipe and I was working purely from memory, it took a few experiments of trying out different ratios of coconut milk to fish and the right combination of spices that wouldn’t over power the delicate fish.  Finally, a couple of years ago, I hit the jackpot!  I got it to taste the same as that awesome fish curry I remembered as a kid!  (Either that, or my taste-buds had had enough of experimentation 🙂

White flaky fish cooked in sweet, creamy coconut milk, seasoned with fragrant Indian spices. Simple and delicious Fish Coconut Curry by Spice Cravings

Customize Your Instant Pot Fish Coconut Curry

This recipe is pretty versatile.  I often switch up the vegetables in this, sometimes add carrots & potatoes, or, peas & mushrooms.  You can swap Tilapia for Halibut or switch the protein and add Shrimp or Chicken instead.   If adding Chicken, increase the cook time to 4-5 minutes, depending on the size of chicken pieces.

Make it vegetarian:   You can make this dish 100% vegetarian by switching the fish with some Extra-firm Tofu.

Reduce some calories:  I like using regular coconut milk since I enjoy the creaminess it adds to the dish, but you can certainly use low-fat coconut milk and save a few calories.  It will be less creamy, slightly thinner sauce, but will still make a great curry!

White flaky fish simmered in sweet, creamy coconut milk, seasoned with fragrant Indian spices. Simple and delicious Fish Coconut Curry by Spice Cravings.

Useful Tip When Cooking with Coconut Milk

If pressure cooking this recipe, after adding coconut milk, mix well and bring it to a simmer, about 30 seconds to a minute.  This prevents the coconut milk from curdling under pressure.

Serving Suggestion for Fish Coconut Curry

I finish this dish with a light squeeze of lime just before serving.  This is a mildly spiced curry.   If you like a more spicy version of this, simply add more garam masala, chili powder and coriander (increase by 1/2-1 teaspoon each).  My family enjoys Fish Coconut Curry with brown Jasmine rice. We love the nutty and slightly chewy texture of brown rice, which contrasts the creaminess of the fish and curry sauce.  That being said, this can be enjoyed with Quinoa, white Rice or a slice of toasted Baguette too!

Instant Pot Fish Coconut Curry Pairs Well With:

Brown Jasmine Rice in Instant Pot
Brown Jasmin Rice

Jeera Rice or Cumin Rice, is a popular Indian side dish where delicious and aromatic basmati rice is cooked with the nutty and earthy cumin seeds. It is one of the most popular accompaniment with Indian curries. Quick and easy recipe by Spice Cravings. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty #indian #basmati #rice
Jeera Cumin Rice

Pot-in-Pot (PIP) Combination

The cook times for fish match with quinoa, so if you want to make this awesome Fish Coconut Curry with Quinoa, you cook it using the Pot-in-Pot method. Make the fish curry in the main pot. Put together quinoa, water, salt and oil in a smaller pot and place it on the trivet. Set the timer and follow the recipe. You’ll have a full meal, all in one pot.

To learn more about Pot-in-Pot Cooking Method and other PIP meal combinations, click here.

Stove Top Instructions

In the video and receipe below, I make this curry in my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot DUO, but this can be easily made on the stove top too.  Here’s how:

  1. Take a chef’s pan or saute pan, heat it on medium-high heat/flame.  Wait 30 seconds and add oil and mustard seeds.
  2. When the mustard seeds begin to splutter, add curry leaves and ginger-garlic paste.  Sauté for 30 seconds, add sliced onions and bell peppers.  Sauté another 30 seconds.
  3. Add all spices, stir well and sauté another 30 seconds.  Add coconut milk and mix well.   Finally, add the Tilapia, which is cut in to 2 inch pieces, a few cilantro sprigs and and stir well to coat fish with coconut milk.  Optionally, you can add a few mint leaves on top, this gives the coconut curry a very mild and sweet minty aroma, very subtle though.
  4. Close the lid of the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5-6 minutes, or till the fish filets are cooked completely. Finish the dish with a light squeeze of lime and serve with brown rice/white rice or a slice of toasted baguette!

1-Minute Video Recipe for Instant Pot Fish Coconut Curry

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Fish Coconut Curry by Spice Cravings is a light fish prepared in a coconut milk broth with aromatics and tons of curry leaves, served over a mountain of steamed white rice. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty #curry #indian 

Instant Pot Fish Coconut Curry

White flaky fish simmered in sweet and creamy coconut milk, seasoned with fragrant Indian spices, that’s all there is to this simple and delicious recipe for Fish Coconut Curry!
4.34 from 27 votes
Print Pin Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 333kcal
Author: Spice Cravings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Tilapia filets cut in 2 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
  • 12 oz Coconut Milk (1 can)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste : 1/2 inch ginger + 3 cloves garlic, crushed or ground
  • 10 curry leaves or 2-3 kaffir lime leaves (see notes about availability)
  • 1/2 medium onion sliced
  • 1/2 green pepper sliced
  • 1/2 orange pepper or yellow pepper sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Powder : adjust to your taste
  • 2 teaspoons Coriander Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 3 sprigs of cilantro
  • 8 mint leaves : optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice : to be added before serving

Instructions

  • Prep: Cut Tilapia in 2 inch pieces. Slice onions and bell peppers. Finely chop ginger-garlic or pulse a few times in a mini-food processor.
  • Turn Instant Pot on Sauté. Wait 30 seconds and add oil and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to splutter, add curry leaves and ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 30 seconds. Add sliced onions and bell peppers. Sauté another 30 seconds.
  • Add all spices, stir well and sauté another 30 seconds. Add coconut milk and mix well. Bring it to a simmer, about 30 seconds to a minute, this prevents the coconut milk from curdling under pressure. Add Tilapia which is cut in to 2 inch pieces, a few cilantro sprigs and and stir well to coat fish with coconut milk. Optionally, you can add a few mint leaves on top, this gives the coconut curry a very mild and sweet minty aroma, very subtle though.
  • Close the lid of the pan and set the pressure valve to 'sealing'. Cook on Manual (high) for 2-3 minutes, depending on how thick the fish filets are. Quickly release the pressure (QR). Finish the curry with a light squeeze of lime and serve with brown rice/white rice or a slice of toasted baguette!

NOTES

  • Make it vegetarian: You can make this dish 100% vegetarian by switching the fish with some Extra-firm Tofu.
    Reduce some calories: I like using regular coconut milk since I enjoy the creaminess it adds to the dish, but you can certainly use low-fat coconut milk and save a few calories.
    Curry Leaves: Commonly used in Indian cooking. You can buy them at a local Indian store. If not, they can be substituted with Kaffir lime leaves that you can find at your local supermarket like Safeway, in the asian produce section. If you cannot find those, Thai basil will be a good substitute- won't be the same flavor, but the idea of this curry is to flavor the coconut milk with some fruity herb. You'll get a tasty curry either way.

Stove top recipe

  • Heat a chef’s pan or saute pan on medium-high heat. Wait 30 seconds and add oil and mustard seeds.
  • When the mustard seeds begin to splutter, add curry leaves and ginger-garlic paste. Sauté for 30 seconds, add sliced onions and bell peppers. Sauté another 30 seconds.
  • Add all spices, stir well and sauté another 30 seconds. Add coconut milk and mix well. Finally, add the Tilapia, which is cut in to 2 inch pieces, a few cilantro sprigs and and stir well to coat fish with coconut milk. Optionally, you can add a few mint leaves on top, this gives the coconut curry a very mild and sweet minty aroma, very subtle though.
  • Close the lid of the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5-6 minutes, or till the fish filets are cooked completely. Finish the dish with a light squeeze of lime and serve with brown rice/white rice or a slice of toasted baguette!

Notes

If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.
 
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition

Calories: 333kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 660mg | Potassium: 627mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 875IU | Vitamin C: 84.2mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 4.1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Carribean, Indian
Keyword: fish, South Indian
Did you try this recipe?Mention @SpiceCravings or tag #spicecravings!

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HEY! NICE TO MEET YOU!

Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Erica Norton
    December 16, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    Just made this tonight and it was awesome, it will definitely be in heavy rotation at our place. 🙂

    • Reply
      aneeshasg
      December 16, 2018 at 10:54 pm

      Hi Erica, that is awesome. I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe. I have another fish recipe coming next week, I’m sure you’ll enjoy that too. Thanks again for sharing your feedback! If you have a chance, please rate the recipe in the recipe card 🙂

  • Reply
    Paula
    November 19, 2017 at 12:45 am

    How much mustard seed?

    • Reply
      Garam Masala Kitchen
      November 19, 2017 at 11:31 am

      Good catch! 1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds. Thanks for pointing it out. I’ve updated the recipe. Would love to hear how it turned out!

      • Reply
        Paula
        November 19, 2017 at 11:49 am

        I ended up using 1.5 tsp of dry mustard. I also used lime leaves.
        It was amazing!! This is by far the best curry recipe I’ve ever made. I think you could probably use chicken in place of the fish as well. (Needing to adjust cooking time)
        This is now permanently on my menu! Thank you so much!! ❤️❤️❤️

        • Reply
          aneeshasg
          December 5, 2017 at 6:17 pm

          Awesome! So glad you enjoyed it. Thanks a lot for sharing your feedback!

  • Reply
    Cassandra Brecht
    November 6, 2017 at 5:54 am

    Sounds nice! I’ll be trying this soon 🙂

    • Reply
      aneesha
      November 6, 2017 at 8:05 am

      Great! Would love to hear how it turned out!

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