Tanzanian Fried Fish with Spinach and Coconut Recipe


Tanzania is popularly known for Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain but it’s also known for its game, lakes, beaches, food and gracious people. When you enter a Tanzanian home without knocking, as a customary courtesy you ask in the Swahili language “Hujambo hodi”. Loosely translated this means, “Hello, may I enter”. Your host will reply “Karibu”, which means, “Welcome”. The greeting is as genuine and hearty as the food. By the time you leave, you’ll want to say “Asante sana”, which means “Thank you”.


This particular Tanzanian fish dish is traditionally prepared using tilapia, a freshwater fish found in various parts of Africa. At GOLD Restaurant we use filleted kingklip, as tilapia is not readily available in South Africa in the quantities we require.

Recipe by: GOLD Restaurant
Serves: 4
Difficulty: Moderate
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes


T = Tablespoon
t = teaspoon

For the fish:

  • 4X 250 g kingklip fillets
  • 15 ml (1 T) juice of a lemon or lime
  • 2.5 ml (½ t) crushed garlic or garlic powder
  • 5 ml (1 t) ground cinnamon
  • 2.5 ml (½ t) fresh or dried thyme
  • 2.5 ml (½ t) paprika
  • 2.5 ml (½ t) ground black pepper
  • Seasoned flour for dusting
  • 30 ml (2 T) vegetable oil for shallow frying
  • Pinch of salt

For the sauce:

  • 25 g butter or margarine
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 300 ml coconut milk
  • 115 g fresh spinach, thinly sliced
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped


To prepare the fish:

  1. Place the fish fillets in a shallow bowl or non-stick metallic dish and drizzle with the lemon or lime juice.
  2. Mix the fresh or powdered garlic, cinnamon, thyme, paprika, salt and black pepper and sprinkle over the fish.
  3. Cover the fish loosely with clear plastic wrap and for 2 hours leave to marinate (in a cool place or refrigerate).

To make the sauce:

  1. Melt the butter or margarine in a large pan on a medium heat and fry the onion, garlic and chilli for 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and soft.
  2. While the onion, garlic and chilli is frying, place the coconut milk and spinach in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for a few minutes until the spinach has wilted and the coconut milk has reduced a little.
  4. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  5. Then place the spinach and coconut milk mixture in a blender and blitz for 30 seconds. Add the blitzed mixture to the pan with the onion, garlic and chilli.

To cook the fish:

  1. Dip the fish portions in the seasoned flour.
  2. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and fry the fish pieces for 2-3 minutes on either side until golden brown.
  3. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

To serve:

  1. Gently reheat the sauce while the fish is frying.
  2. Plate the warm drained fish pieces on heated serving plates.
  3. Serve the sauce separately in a sauceboat or pour it over the fish.

Share this post