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Fish Fry – Spicy Indian Battered Fish

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This fish fry is so good. Easy to make too.

Fish fry!

This fish fry is so good!

Have you ever tried a northern Indian fish fry? If not, it’s time you did. 

If you are on a gluten free diet, this is a good one for you. Just don’t dust the fish with the plain (all purpose) flour. They don’t do that in India anyway. 

How authentic is this recipe?

This Indian fish fry recipe has been changed from what I have tried in India. In northern India and Pakistan, it is often made with water instead of the ice cold lager. I like the flavour of a lager batter and the bubbles help make the batter crispy and light.

In many parts of India, alcohol is difficult to come by. In Pakistan only 3% of the population (the non-muslim population) are allowed to purchase alcohol with a permit. 

So lager would not be used in this recipe but I like it and I don’t have such restrictions which I’m happy about.  Cold water or, better yet sparkling water would be a good alternative for the batter. 

Many authentic Indian fish fry recipes call for chaat masala and/or black salt. I love both but have left them out of this recipe do to the current crazy times we’re living in. 

Working ahead.

You can mix the batter ingredients, minus the lager (sparkling water) together a day or so ahead of time. You can also grind the cumin, cumin, ajwain, black pepper and salt mixture ahead of time too. 

Everything else should be done right before you’re ready to cook. 

Do I have to use gram (chickpea) and rice flour?

No. This recipe works well with plain (all purpose) flour but it will not be authentic. 

Go for it! Also, feel free to adjust the spices. I know that not everyone will have ajwain on hand, for example. Leave it out if you must. You’ll still have an awesome fish fry!

Warning about ajwain.

I love a little ajwain and it is used a lot in northern Indian and Pakistani cooking.

The spice can quickly overpower a dish though. Also ajwain isn’t to everyones liking. Be sure to try some before adding it in this recipe. You might want to leave it out.

grinding spices

Grind the spice. Roughly ground not a powder.

The dry powder ingredients.

Get your dry batter ingredients together.

pouring beer into dry ingredients

Slowly pour lager into dry ingredients.

Whisking batter

Whisk it all together.

Patting ground spices into fish

Add the lemon juice and pat the ground spices into the fish.

dredging fish in flour

Dredge the fish in flour unless you are gluten free. Shake off excess.

Dipping fish into the batter.

Thoroughly coat the fish in the batter.

Adding fish to the hot oil.

Carefully and slowly add the fish to the oil.

frying Indian fish

Totally crispy and nice! You have to try this.

Yield: 4

Fish Fry - Spicy Indian Battered Fish

Fish fry!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ajwain
  • 4 x 250g (8.5 oz) cod fillets
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 100g (just over a cup) gram (chickpea) flour
  • 3 tbsp rice flour
  • 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/2 turmeric
  • Lager
  • Flaky sea salt to taste


  1. Place the cumin, coriander, black peppercorns, salt and ajwain in a pestle and mortar and pound until you have a course mixture, not a powder.
  2. Place the fish in a large, flat dish and squeeze the lemon juice all over. Pour the ground spice mixture over the fish and press it in so that it adheres to the fish. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the batter.
  3. Pre-heat your oil in a deep fat frying or a wok.
  4. Pour the flours into a large mixing bowl and add the chilli powder and turmeric and mix well to combine. Add the garlic and ginger paste and then slowly start pouring in the ice cold lager (water) whisking as you do.
  5. It is important to pour slowly as you want the batter to be like double whipped cream and not at all runny. If you mistakenly add too much lager, you will need to whisk in more gram flour. The batter should be thick enough to adhere to a to the back of a wooden spoon. It needs to adhere to the fish after all!
  6. Dust the fish with the plain (all purpose) flour and shake off any excess flour.
  7. Dip a fish fillet into the batter and then carefully and slowly lower it into the hot oil.
  8. Fry for 4 - 5 minutes or until the fish is crispy brown. Transfer to a hot plate and keep warm while you fry the remaining fish.
  9. Sprinkle with the flaky salt to serve.

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One thing I wished I’d served with this fish fry is my coriander and mint chutney! You can find the recipe here

I hope you enjoy this Indian fish fry recipe. If you do give it a try, please don’t be a stranger. Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 

Richard Weightman

Saturday 11th of April 2020

Just cooked your spicy Indian battered fish - worked really well. Thanks for sharing. I think it could have taken more of the spices - both the whole ground and in the batter although I didn't have the ajwain - perhaps that was missing. Nevertheless the rice flour/gram flour batter worked great. We had it with fried curried parsnips, as we had late season parsnips to use up.

Dan Toombs

Monday 13th of April 2020

Hi Richard Great to hear and I'm glad it worked and you were able to use your parsnips. Dan

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