Coconut fish curry with Scotch bonnet & makrut lime leaves

Coconut fish curry with Scotch bonnet & makrut lime leaves

Guest chef Lerato Umah-Shaylor says: "This takes me to East and West Africa – without leaving my home in Sussex."

4.5 out of 5 stars(8) Rate this recipe
  • Serves4
  • CourseMain meal
  • Prepare20 mins
  • Cook40 mins
  • Total time1 hr
  • Plusmarinating

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For the fish marinade

  • 3 tbsp coconut milk (shake the can well before opening)
  • 1 unwaxed lime, zest and juice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp sea salt flakes
  • 2 x 200g Essential Hake Fillet

For the toasted spices

  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 10 green cardamom pods, bashed

For the curry blend

  • 400g cherry vine tomatoes
  • 1 Romano pepper, stalk and seeds removed, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 cm piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 6 Cooks' Ingredients Makrut Lime Leaves
  • 1 Scotch bonnet chilli, stem removed (or see tips below))
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 unwaxed lime, zest and juice

To serve

  • 40g coconut chunks, thinly sliced or roughly chopped
  • 25g pack coriander, sprigs picked
  • ½ x 20g Thai basil, leaves only


  1. For the marinade, mix the coconut milk, lime zest and juice, ginger, turmeric, black pepper and salt in a container wide enough to accommodate the fish. Add the hake and brush or spoon the marinade over both slides. Cover and set aside while you prepare the curry, or refrigerate for 1-2 hours before cooking.

  2. For the toasted spices, toast the fennel, coriander and cumin seeds over a low heat in a shallow saucepan large enough to fit the fish later. After 3-4 minutes, or once fragrant, tip the spices into a bowl and set aside. Add the cardamom pods and toast in the same way.

  3. Meanwhile, for the curry blend, put 200g tomatoes, the pepper, onion, garlic, ginger, makrut leaves, chilli, coconut milk and stock into a blender. Tip in the toasted spices (excluding the cardamom), then blend until smooth.

  4. Pour the curry blend into the saucepan with the cardamom pods and place over a medium heat. No oil is required. Add the dry spices and lime zest and juice, then stir and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and cook for 20 minutes, or until slightly reduced and thickened.

  5. Slice the remaining tomatoes and add to the curry. Season with salt, stir, cover completely and cook for about 5 minutes.

  6. Carefully tuck the fish into the curry with the remaining marinade, then cover and cook for 5 minutes more, or until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Scatter with coconut slices, the coriander and Thai basil and serve.

Cook’s tip

The sauce freezes well for up to 3 months and is great with fish, chicken, meat or vegetables. For an extra crisp finish, top with green beans or sugar snaps, added for the final 3-4 minutes of cooking time. Use remaining coconut milk for chapati, or coconut rice. You can freeze it to use later in recipes that don’t call for an entire can. For those new to Scotch bonnet, or who prefer milder heat, don’t blend it into the sauce. Cut an incision into the whole chilli instead, and drop it into the curry as it cooks.


Typical values per serving when made using specific products in recipe


1,441kJ/ 345kcals



Saturated Fat












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