Masala Mackerel with Daal and Salad

Someone confided to me at a music festival recently “I’ve only got a day left, so I am trying to plan which food stands to try. I don’t want to miss out.”   Later someone else admitted that they were experiencing severe food envy having tasted their freind’s superior choice . It reminds me of the feeling on returning from holiday longing to have one more taste of the local specialty.

One of my favourite festival food stalls is The Goan Seafood Company . Based in Mevagissey, Cornwall they use traditional methods to catch sustainable fish stocks and use  Goan cooking styles to produce a range of dishes ; breakfast kedgeree, fish currys and mackerel masala. To assuage the post festival malaise , I am attempting to recreate the the dish which inspired such food envy  Goan Mackerel Masala Dhal boneless line caught mackerel fillet cooked in a fresh masala paste, served with masala dhal (lentils, tomatoes, coconut, spices) and kachumber salad.

This may was an authentic recreation of the festival dish but I really enjoyed it. The mackerel (Marine Stewardship Council approved  from the supermarket ) was salt and firm with a sour-spiced crust. The daal turned out thick garlicky and sweetened with coconut . The hot food is topped with a Kachumber salad; tomato, onion & fresh coriander dressed with lemon juice. Traditionally recipes show this to have cucumber too in it but if the Seafood Company can leave it out , then I can too.

The original dish is shown below on the right (actually while researching this I noticed that the Goan Seafood Company has one of my early photos of the mackerel from 2006 showing  on their website )

Masala Mackerel

Makes 4 mackerel fillets ( I’m greedy so I have two per person )

4 mackerel fillets
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp of coriander seeds
2 tsp of black peppercorns
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp of dried red chillis
1 tsp of tumeric
6 garlic cloves
1tsp of brown sugar
1 thumb of ginger
2 tbsp of lime juice

  1. Toast the cumin , coriander ,peppercorns and cloves
  2. Grind the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns and cloves to a fine powder.
  3. Transfer to a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and blend to a smooth paste.
  4. Brush over the mackerel fillets and leave to marinade for 2 hours
  5. Grill for 5 minutes under a very hot grill


Serves 2

200g of red lentils
1 pint of water
3 small fresh tomatoes cut into quarters
1 small onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 thumb of ginger
1 tsp of coriander seeds
1tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp of nigella seeds
1/2 tsp of tumeric
1 tsp of creamed coconut
1 green chilli
2 curry leaves

1 tsp of fresh coriander to serve
Salt and pepper to season
Sunflower oil

  1. Add the red lentils , tumeric , tomatoes, coconut and  water.
  2. Simmer for approx 16 til beggining to breakdown soften minutes
  3. In a frying pan fry the onion & garlic
  4. Add the ginger , chilli and spices and fry til fragrant .
  5. Add the spice paste and tomatoes to the  cooking lentils and simmer for a fruther 15 minutes adding more water if required.
  6. Finally taste and add salt to taste
  7. Stir in the chopped coriander before serving.

Sag Paneer


  1. Similar to Mack Gordon Ramsays Mack Masala. That Daal and salad with the colour of the fish is so cool. superb!

  2. Was watching how thee Goan Seafood lot cook it at the Green Man festival. They don’t mariniate or grill. They dip one side of the fillet in the paste and then fry it paste side up with little or no oil and a lid on the pan. That should keep I tender.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s