Fri, 30 December, 2016


Recipe and photos Akanesi Ofahengaue

I have to give it to the French. When they speak broken English, it sounds beautiful, lyrical, sexy even. If an islander was ever recorded saying ‘holy moly’ like ‘hoilee moilee’, I would guarantee you’d not have anyone in the audience thinking that it was ‘sexy’ by any stretch of the imagination. Like seriously. Yeah, nah. Instead Manu Fiedel says it, and the audience wants a serving of that, whatever it was he said.

Well the comment was made on the season of My Kitchen Rules (Australia) where spice queens Eva & Deb, made a beautiful Keralan fish moilee. Moilee, in case you didn’t know is an Indian dish kinda like a fish curry but in a mildly spiced coconut sauce with sour tones. What grabbed my attention about this dish, aside from the fact that it scored 9s from the judges and had Manu Fiedel exclaim in that famously sexy French accent “hoilee moilee!”, is that it uses familiar ingredients we have in the islands specifically fish and coconut milk, but in a way I had never tried before.

This recipe is adapted from Eva & Deb’s dish with the addition of aubergine (eggplant) which to me works beautifully with the lemony coconut sauce, and adds yet another texture to the dish and subtle flavours of the pan fried fish. The lemon rice was simple to make and complimented the Moilee well, combining beautiful spices and textures, and the crispy garnish Eva made for this dish was also delicious so I’ve included it here for you to try. 

Now don’t be put off that the recipe looks kinda long. If you’ve made a curry before you’ll understand that there’s a bunch of ingredients to go into a curry but it really isn’t that hard. Rub the fish with spices, marinade, pan fry fish & aubergine then set aside, fry your onions garlic and spices, add coconut cream and everything else and you’re done. Just taste and season as you go and you’d be right. 

I would have to agree with Manu, ‘hoilee moilee’ this is good! Give this one a go, it’s a beautiful and healthy way to enjoy our island favourites, fish and coconut.

Serves 4

A delicious fish dish cooked in mildly flavoured coconut sauce with lemon.




            1 kg firm white fish fillets

            1 aubergine (eggplant) diced into medium chunks

            4 tsp of ground turmeric

            1 tsp of ground coriander

            salt & pepper to season

            6 tbsp of oil

            1 tsp of black mustard seeds

            3 cloves garlic, crushed

            1 onion finely chopped

            1/4 tsp of chilli flakes

            400 ml coconut milk

            1 lemon

            2 cups of baby spinach leaves (optional)


            1 tsp black mustard seeds

            1/2 onion thinly sliced

            2 cm piece of ginger finely julienned

            2 cloves of garlic finely sliced

            12 curry leaves

            4 tbsp of ghee (or oil)

Lemon Rice

            3 tbsp of coconut oil

            2 tsp of black mustard seeds

            1 tsp turmeric powder

            1 tsp ground ginger

            1/4 cup almond slivers

            4 cups cooked basmati rice

            2 lemons juiced

            1/4 cup coriander leaves chopped




1. Combine 1 tsp of turmeric & 1 tsp of coriander powder in a medium bowl.
2. Slice fish fillets into 5-6 cm pieces and add to turmeric mix, rubbing the fish in so that all the pieces are coated with the powder mix.
3. Season with salt and pepper and leave to marinade in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. Heat oil in a large pan on medium high heat and batch fry fish pieces until golden then set aside.
5. Top up oil in the same pan and fry aubergine until almost cooked and golden, then set aside with fish.
6. Add remaining oil to pan, add mustard seeds and cook until they start to splutter. Add remaining turmeric, garlic & onion and sauté until softened. Add coconut cream to pan, season with salt then bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer.
7. Return fish and aubergine to the pan, add baby spinach and simmer for around 10 minutes or until fish is just cooked through.
8. Remove from heat, squeeze in lemon juice and serve with prepared garnish.


1. Heat ghee or oil in a pan on medium high heat and fry the mustard seeds until it starts to splutter.
2. Add onions, garlic and ginger and fry until softened. Stir in curry leaves and remove from heat.

Lemon Rice

1. Heat coconut oil in a large pan or wok. Add mustard seeds and fry until it starts to splutter. Add almonds and cook to light golden then stir in turmeric and ginger.
2. Add cooked rice and stir fry for a couple of minutes until rice is well combined and heated through.
3. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and garnish with chopped coriander.


Adapted from MKR 2015 Eva & Deb's Keralan Fish Moilee


For more coconut cream favourites visit ilovecoconutcream


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