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Staff Basa Fish Curry

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This is a fantastic Bangladeshi, spicy staff basa fish curry.

Whenever I go out for a curry, I always ask to try the staff curry if they have one cooking.  Curries cooked like this basa fish curry are usually better than anything else on the menu. These are the homestyle curries the staff like to eat and are often much spicier than their customers will want to eat. 

About a month ago I went to Table Talk – a local Indian restaurant and the served me a basa fish curry that blew me away! It was so good.

My family was with me and they were happy with their regular butter chickens and chicken jalfrezis but my basa fish curry was the best on the table. At least I think so.


Bangladeshi Staff Fish Curry

You will want to make this one again and again!

What is basa fish?

Basa, often called by its scientific name Pangasius. At Asian shops it is often labeled pangasius but in supermarkets it’s called basa.

The fish is a type of catfish farmed in the Far East and it is loved for its firm yet buttery texture. 

It’s also quite inexpensive as it is cheap to farm. I have heard it compared to cod and haddock but personally, I feel it is its own fish! If you like fish, you will most likely love basa.

Is basa safe to eat?

You’ll be just fine cooking it as I do in this recipe. Basa has had some bad press because it is farmed and the water it is reared in is often contaminated with metals. 

You could of course substitute sole or even cod for this basa fish curry but I hope you don’t.

The fish has been given the go ahead to be sold at western supermarkets and the fact that it is high in protein and low in calories far outweighs the negative.

Just be sure to cook it through, as you would any farmed fish. Never eat it raw. 

What does this base fish curry taste like?

I know you are going to love this basa fish curry from the first bite. Basa is a kind of a mix between sole and cod. 

It is somewhat buttery and has a melt-in-the-mouth texture so not as flaky as sole but also not as meaty as cod.

It doesn’t have a strong flavour. This is why it takes up the flavours of the sauce so well. There is a good reason why basa fish curry makes such a popular staff meal. 

About this basa fish curry…

The basa itself is only marinated with a little ground turmeric and salt. The spinach, however could be a bit on the spicy side for some. I love it!

You could tone down the spices if you wish.

Indian five spice or panch phoran is a key ingredient as is naga pickle and shatkora pickle. Both of these are easily found at Asian shops and online.

They are both quite spicy but, again you could always reduce the amount you add to your basa fish curry. 

Shatkora is similar to limes but a lot stronger. It has a nice and unique flavour but if you really can’t find it, make a lime pickle or purchase a good quality lime pickle in a jar and use it instead.

Here are a few photos I took of the cooking process…

Infusing spices into the oil

Heat the oil and then add the whole spices to infuse for about 30 seconds. Then add the curry leaves and onion.

adding garlic and ginger paste to pan

Fry the onions for about 3 minutes and then stir in the garlic and ginger paste paste.

Adding what to pan

Add the water to the pan and let it simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce down and flavour the stock.

Reduced stock for basa fish curry

Once the stock has reduced down by about half, add the shatkora pickle and naga pickle.

Adding spinach to the pan

Stir in the spinach. This will probably fill your pan but it cooks down quickly.

Basa curry sauce ready.

With the spinach cooked into the sauce, it’s time to fry the basa fish.

Frying basa fish

Fry the marinated basa fish for about 2 minutes per side.


If you like this staff basa fish curry, you might like to try some of these too…

Chicken staff curry
Lamb staff curry
Seafood curry
Keralan fish curry
Restaurant style monkfish curry
Easy monkfish curry (no base required)
Beef Biryani
Chicken Biryani
Chickpea Biryani
Chicken Karahi
Lamb Korma
Shami Kebab
Aloo Gobi
Lamb Nihari
Chapli Kebabs
Lamb Seekh Kebabs
Staff Chicken Curry
Butter Chicken
Chicken Haleem
Tarka Dal
Pilau Rice
Chicken Tikka Masala
Grilled Lamb Chops
Lamb Tikka
Spicy Kashmiri Lamb Chops


Have you tried this basa fish curry recipe?

If so, please give it a star rating in the comments below and leave a comment. I love receiving your feedback and I’m sure other readers of my blog do too. Thank you.

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Yield: 4

Shatkora Palak Nagamaas - Spicy Fish And Naga Chili Dish

Bangladeshi Staff Fish Curry
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


  • 4 basa fillets
  • 1 teaspoon paanch phoron*
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste or finely chopped garlic
  • 1 Indian bay leaf
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • 200g (7oz) fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 2 teaspoons shatkora pickle**
  • 3 teaspoon Mr. Naga Pickle**
  • 10 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek powder (methi)
  • Fresh green chillies
  • A pinch of turmeri powder
  • Curry powder
  • Chilli powder


  1. Heat four tablespoons of oil to a saucepan over medium high heat.
  2. Add one teaspoon of paanch phoron* to the hot oil.
  3. When the seeds begin to pop, add the crushed garlic and fry until light brown and translucent.
  4. Add the chopped onion and fry until nice soft and translucent.
  5. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and then throw in the cinnamon stick, bayleaf and about 1⁄2 pint of water.
  6. As the onion is reduced add a pinch of turmeric powder, 2 teaspoons of curry powder and 1⁄2 teaspoon of chili powder.
  7. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
  8. Add the fresh shredded spinach and another 1⁄2 pint of water and cook until the spinach is reduced to a paste.
  9. Add 1 teaspoon of fenugreek, the chopped fresh green chilies, 2 teaspoons of shatkora pickle and 3 teaspoons of Mr. Naga pickle, mix everything through and let it simmer to one side as you prepare your fish.
  10. In a small bowl add 4 tablespoons of oil.
  11. Dust the fish fillets with the turmeric powder and a little salt and place them into the hot oil.
  12. Fry until cooked through on both sides
  13. Place the fish fillets on a heated plate and cover with the spinach mixture.

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I hope you enjoy this staff basa fish curry. I sure do! If you do try it, please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you. 

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 10th of April 2013

Thank you Danielle. It's really nice but perhaps a bit spicy for some people. If you love spicy food, please give this a try. You could always leave the chili out as that works too. :-) x


Tuesday 9th of April 2013

Looks delicious! xoxo

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