Fish head curry

Fish head curry (Malay and Indonesian: kari kepala ikan) is a dish in Indonesian,[1] Malaysian and Singaporean cuisines[2][3] with mixed Indian and Chinese origins.[4] The head of a red snapper is stewed in a Kerala-style curry with assorted vegetables such as okra and eggplants. It is usually served with either rice or bread, or as a shared dish.

Fish head curry
Indian version of fish head curry
Alternative namesKari kepala ikan (Malay or Indonesian)
CourseMain course
Place of originSingapore
Region or stateNationwide in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore
Created byN.J. Gomez (Indian origin)
Serving temperatureHot or warm
Main ingredientsRed snapper fish head, vegetables (okra, eggplant, Long bean,)
Peranakan fish head curry


It is believed that fish head curry was invented when chef M.J. Gomez from Kerala, India adopted the dish to bring South Indian cuisine to diners in Singapore. Although fish head was not widely served in India, Chinese customers considered it to be a special delicacy, so M.J. had the idea of cooking the fish in curry instead.[5]

Today, Indian, Malay, Chinese, and Peranakan restaurants all serve variations of this dish. Fish head curry has become a popular dish among Singaporeans and tourists alike. Costing between $10 and $20, it is generally not considered cheap hawker fare. It typically comes served in a clay pot, and is often sold at hawker centers and neighbourhood food stalls.[citation needed]


Tamarind (asam) juice is frequently added to the gravy to give the dish a sweet-sour flavor (see asam fish). This variety of fish head curry also has a thinner, orange gravy.[citation needed]

Coconut milk can be added to this dish.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Inc, Tastemade. "Gulai Kepala Ikan ~ Resep". Tastemade.
  2. ^ 1001 Foods To Die For. Andrews McMeel Publishing. 2007. p. 284. ISBN 978-0-7407-7043-2. Retrieved July 17, 2017.
  3. ^ Singapore Hawker Classics Unveiled: Decoding 25 Favourite Dishes. Marshall Cavendish. 2015. p. 69. ISBN 978-981-4677-86-8. Retrieved July 17, 2017.
  4. ^ "Fish head curry (gulai kepala ikan)". SBS.
  5. ^ "The man behind fish head curry". The Straits Times. 10 December 2017.