Every bite of perfectly baked Fish Masala is so tender and finger-licking delicious. Fish marinated in Indian spices, and enhanced with citrus. A quick and simple marinade using a handful of Indian spices and your favorite fish is all you need to prepare this phenomenal recipe. Serve it as lunch, as a side, or as dinner for yourself or for a crowd.
One of my childhood favorites is Ammi’s pan-fried fish smothered in Indian spices. Spicy, tangy, and perfectly crispy fish that goes so well with Roti(Indian flatbread), Chutney, Dal-Chawal, or Kadhi-Khichdi.
I grew up eating some of the best fish in India prepared by my mother. Gujarat is one of the finest coastal states in India. It is one of the top leading fish-producing States in India. So, living close to the coast allowed us to try varieties of wonderful seafood. Cooking whole fish covered in Indian spice marinade and fried until its skin becomes crispy is my favorite way to have fish.
This baked version of Whole Fish Masala is the recipe I grew up on except, it's a healthier version since I choose to bake it rather than frying in a pool of oil ;). Tastes fantastic and has less than half of the calories of fried fish. Can't beat that!
Fish masala that’s easy to make, satisfying down to the last bite, and a strong contender for a dinner menu.
Why You Will Love Baked Fish Masala
It takes only a few minutes to prepare the marinade. Marinade the fish, pop it in the oven for 20-25 minutes and your phenomenal dinner is ready in no time. Who doesn't love a delicious fish dinner ready in under 30 minutes?!
Ingredients for Baked Fish Masala
All the ingredients used for this recipe are very basic Indian spices. If you love Indian food then it is worth having these spices in your pantry to create some wonderful Indian meals for dinner. Easily be found at any Indian grocery store in the US or find them online on Amazon.
- Whole Tilapia- I like to buy pre-cleaned whole Tilapia from Costco. You may use any fish you like. Whole or boneless fillets. They all taste great with this simple marinade.
- Ginger-Garlic Paste- easily available in any Indian grocery store. Comes in a jar and can last for 6 months in the refrigerator. You may use freshly grated ginger and garlic if you like or check out my ginger-garlic paste recipe.
- Coriander Powder- The best part of this marinade. Do not skip adding Coriander powder. It complements the flavors of the fish.
- Cumin Powder- Cumin and Coriander are a match made in heaven. Any Indian dish isn't complete without these two ingredients.
- Kashmiri Chili- The best of all chilies. Gives my Indian meals beautiful and bright colors. It is mildly spicy in taste. Very similar to Sweet Paprika, except it is slightly higher in heat.
- Turmeric Powder, lemon juice, oil, and salt.
Fish for Fish Masala
The majority of Indians usually love frying fish with firm and flaky meat. Pomfret, Rohu, and Hilsa were our family favorites in India. I have struggled to find the same fishes in Utah but discovered that Tilapia seems to be close in taste. Honestly, you can use this spice marinade for any of your favorite fish.
I prefer to purchase my fish from Costco because I am lazy and I love Costco's pre-cleaned whole fish. However, if you are willing to work a little to get the best-tasted fish then head over to your local Asian grocery store or a South Asian grocery store that carries varieties of fresh fish.
Storing and Marinating the Fish Ahead
- I like to marinate the fish in the refrigerator for overnight to 24 hours for the best results. Marinade the fish and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Cooked fish can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
- This recipe is so easy to make and tastes great when cooked fresh. I don't recommend freezing marinated fish.
- Defrost the frozen fish pat dry completely then marinade overnight or cook immediately.
What to Serve Whole Fish Masala with
If you love the sound of this Indian baked fish then you might like to check out my other Indian dishes. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
Baked Fish Masala
- 2 whole tilapia , gutted, scaled, and trimmed on both sides
- 2 tablespoons garlic Paste
- 1 tablespoon ginger Paste
- 2 tablespoons coriander powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons Kashmiri Chili powder , 2 teaspoons for spicy or less for mild
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon Salt to taste, or to taste
- lemon wedges
- Combine all the spices, ginger-garlic paste, lemon juice, and oil in a medium prep bowl and set it aside.
- Score the whole Tilapia diagonally. Wash it under running water to remove any impurity. Pat dry completely with a paper towel.
- Rub the marinade evenly on each fish and inside the guts. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. For best results, marinade the fish for at least 2 to 24 hours.
- Grease a cast iron pan or a baking sheet with some oil. Place the marinated fish. Bake at 425 F for 20 to 25 minutes then broil for 3-4 minutes.
- Serve it hot with a generous squeeze of lemon juice, Rice and Chutney on the side.
- This recipe is for whole Tilapia weighing between 1 to 1 ½ pounds.