Bengali Fish Curry w/ Seem (Flat Green Beans)

Growing up in a Bengali household, I had a ton of Fish curry. My mom would make fish curry several times a week, so I grew up eating this.

I remember when we first moved to the USA, we had a hard time finding the variety of fish that we were familiar with. The only few fish we bought for years were Tilapia and Buffalo fish. My mom would cook the same fish a hundred different ways and it was always such a treat!

About Bengali Fish Curry:

Fish Curry is a staple in the South East Asia, but in Bangladeshi cuisine, Fish Curry is a staple. We’re known for our fish curries throughout the sub-continent. Bangladesh is full of rivers and lakes, so we have a lot fish and we cook a ton of fish….. and boy do we LOVE our fish! In fact, our national dish is made of a fish, Hilsa or Ilish.

About This Recipe:

Again, there are a lot of different ways to make fish curries, but this is the most basic, simplest, everyday recipe. This is a one pot meal, so you get your veggies of the day and the protein.

It may sound complicated, but it really isn’t! Most of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry. I’m using a few spices (turmeric/chili/coriander), but if you’d like you can definitely use a mixed curry powder instead.
Also, feel free to use any kind of vegetable you want. I use the same recipe to make it with cauliflower, green plantain, or just potatoes, whatever you want to use is fine. Only thing is, make sure that all the veggies are the same size and have the same cooking time.
I am using tilapia here, but you can use any other fish you’d like. Just make sure it is a firm fish, snapper, buffalo, mackerel are all great substitutes. Just make sure it’s not a delicate fish like Cod, because that’ll fall apart in the cooking process.

Pro Tips for a great Fish Curry:

  1. It’s important to lightly fry the fish first. Otherwise it may fall apart in the process. There are other recipes that doesn’t involve this part, but that takes a bit of practice. This is the simplest/safest recipe 🙂
  2. It’s important to follow the steps of cooking the spices before you add your veggies and fish in. This assures that you won’t have any raw spice smell or taste.
  3. Use hot water when cooking. I use boiling hot water but it’s okay to use your hottest tap water, I do that all the time! If you add cold water to the curry, it slows down the cooking process, which in turn elongates the cooking time, which results in mushy curry.


Marinade Spices:

  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Curry:

  • 1 Tilapia fish, cut into 4 pieces (about 1/2 lbs)
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder (you can use cayenne or paprika)
  • 1 cup of sliced onion
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 3 green chili, optional
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 2 red potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 2 cups of Seem (flat lima beans or any other vegetable)
  • 1 tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1/3 cup of oil
  • 3 cups of hot water (tap is fine)
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro, or as much or less as you want.


  1. In a bowl, add the fish and the marinade spices. Rub the spices all over the fish (don’t forget the inside of the head). Set aside for 20 mins, while you prepare everything else.
  2. In a shallow pan, over medium high heat, add 1/4 cup of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the fish. Fry for 2-3 minutes, until it’s lightly brown, then very carefully flip them over. Fry for another 2-3 mins then remove from the pan.
  3. In the same pan, add the rest of the oil followed by the onion and green chili (if using). Sauté for 2 mins, until the onion is translucent. Now add in the ginger and garlic paste. Sauté for another minute, until the paste is nice and fragrant. Now add in all other spices, turmeric, chili powder, coriander powder. Toss everything to mix. Now add in 1/4 cup of hot water and cook the spices for 2-3 minutes. **see note 1
  4. Once the spices are cooked, add the potatoes and beans. Lower the heat to medium low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. After 15 minutes, veggies should be cooked through but not falling apart. Now add the tomatoes and toss to mix.
  6. Add the fish back in, including their drippings. Add the rest of the hot water and turn up the heat to high. Cook uncovered for 12-15 minutes.**see note 2
  7. Add fresh chopped cilantro and turn off the heat.
  8. Serve with white rice : )


  1. You know your spices are cooked when all the water evaporates leaving behind the onion and spice mixture.
  2. By the time you add the last amount of water, your veggies and fish should already be cooked. The addition of water is to just create the curry broth, so no need to cover or stir too much. Just make sure to give it a very very gentle stir so the spices are all well incorporated and let the water reduce, on high heat, to a nice spicy broth.

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