What’s Cooking Today: Terracotta Kingklip Curry

I spotted him across the room. I say “bedroom”, but More4Less in Cradock is more like an airplane hangar full of people from all over the world. Long and low, terracotta and a little fishy. Terracotta pot in the shape of a fish. I had to have it.

It was marked R120 but I negotiated them and got it for R100. When I got home I flipped it over and saw the word Jonas on one end. A quick Google search and comes up “rare vintage Jonas Gourmet Terracotta Fish Cooker”. And a photo of the identical pot. On ebay. Asking price: R911.70. I felt bad for trading them by R20.

Goal! His name is Jonas by the way. Yes, we gave it a name. Jonah Fish.

It appears unused or otherwise kept in pristine condition with great care. So there must have been fish for supper that night. So it has been used now.

If you’ve used a Romertopf clay pot, you know the drill: Place the top and bottom halves of the clay pot in the sink, fill it with cold water, and leave it there for at least half an hour before to drain and dry it. Then it goes into a cold oven, which you only turn on once you’ve inserted the clay pot.

But first, as it’s a fish curry, you have to start the dish on the stove in another pot…


500 g kingklip fillets, in pieces

3 tablespoons coconut oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

½ cup tamarind water (meaning a plum-sized piece of tamarind pulp soaked in water)

1 can (400g) whole peeled tomatoes

1 can of 400g coconut cream

½ teaspoon ground cumin, coriander, ginger, fennel, chili powder and allspice

¼ teaspoon turmeric

Salt and white pepper

Turmeric infused basmati rice


Jonas recovers in the living room after his ordeal in the oven. (We also marked the base of the 70s lamp.) (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Most of the cooking is about the sauce. The fish is only added for a brief cooking towards the end.

Put the two halves of a clay pot in the sink covered with cold water for half an hour, then drain and dry.

Put a piece of tamarind pulp in a small bowl covered with cold water. After a few minutes, use a fork to beat it so most of it dissolves in the water. Keep it aside.

Simmer the onion in the coconut oil in a heavy saucepan until softened. Mix all the spices together and incorporate them. Cook gently for a few minutes.

Add the tomatoes and coconut cream and strain the tamarind water. Season with salt and white pepper and simmer for about 15 minutes for the flavors to develop.

Pour the sauce into the clay pot, put the lid on and put it in the cold oven.

Turn on the oven at 180℃. Once the oven is hot, cook it for about 20 minutes or more so that the curry sauce is hot when you put the kingklip in it.

Remove from the oven, add the pieces of kingklip (or other firm white fish), quickly put the lid back on and cook for another 20 minutes or so or until the fish is just cooked through. Serve with basmati rice cooked in water containing 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric and a little salt. Garnish with cilantro leaves. DM/TGIFood

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