Ammachi’s Clay Pot Fish Molee

Ammachi’s clay pots had a well-loved patina that came from years of use, more beautiful than any finish I’ve ever seen. An Indian molee is a stew made with coconut milk. Hers would have simmered on the wood stove for hours. Yours will be ready in thirty minutes!




1 lb halibut or your favorite fish, cut into 2-inch cubes


¼ teaspoon turmeric 

½ teaspoon cayenne powder

2 teaspoons Deepa’s Secret Spice

1 teaspoon salt


3 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

2 shallots, finely minced

10 fresh curry leaves

2 tablespoons Ginger Garlic Paste 

1 jalapeño, slit with the top intact

4 black peppercorns

2 small tomatoes, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 can (14 oz) unsweetened coconut milk


Crowning flavor: 

2 tablespoons Caramelized Shallots

1 sprig curry leaves


1. Dust fish with turmeric, cayenne powder, Deepa’s Secret Spice, and salt, and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a deep 12-inch saucepan over medium-high heat until it shimmers (about two minutes). Drop a few mustard seeds in first and wait a bit if they don’t pop right away before adding all the mustard seeds (shield yourself with lid as the seeds will pop). Add shallots and stir until golden brown (approximately one minute).

3. Reduce heat and add curry leaves, Ginger Garlic Paste, jalapeño, and black peppercorns. Stir and move this mixture to the edges of the pan. Place fish in the middle in a single layer directly on the pan. Cook undisturbed for 4 minutes to lightly brown the fish.

4. Gently turn fish over and add tomatoes with lemon juice. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.

5. Add coconut milk (I discard any clear liquid in the can and just use the thick milk part). Simmer (without boiling), uncovered, for
3 minutes. Check seasoning. 

Crowning flavor: Tasty but optional: Sprinkle Caramelized Shallots on top. Garnish with the whole sprig of curry leaves, when serving family style.



Black mustard seed: The mustard plant is a crucifer belonging to the same family as Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. The tiny seed has the same nutrients and properties in concentrated form. It can help lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease, and it is full of antioxidants.


Serve over or alongside whole grain—Gingered Farro with Dried Fruit and Nuts, accompanied by Cauliflower and Beans Tumble and Peppery Papadum.