JP McMahon: Give mackerel a taste of India with this simple recipe

These plump, fatty fish work wonderfully with aromatic spices

What's the first type of food that comes to mind when I say Indian? No doubt curry will occur first to many of us. But what type of curry? I love a lamb korma myself, an Irish-Indian fusion of Connemara mountain lamb and aromatic spices from Green Saffron, which is based in Midleton, Co Cork. Arun Kapil sources his spices direct from the farms in India and then mills and blends these to age-old family recipes so they are a beautiful blend of tradition and innovation.

Today, though, I’m not thinking about lamb curry. I’m thinking about other types of curry, or rather other ways to use spices to impart the flavour of a curry. Have you ever rubbed curry spices into fish or vegetables and grilled or roasted them? Or made your favourite fish soup but added different curry spices instead?

Sometimes I like to spice up a chowder with a teaspoon of curry powder to give it a bit more warmth. Adding curry powder to the onions while frying is the best way to impart flavour into any soup or broth.

Mackerel with turmeric, chilli and garlic

July is a great time for mackerel. These plump, fatty fish work wonderfully with aromatic spices. And while I normally just barbecue or grill my mackerel with a little butter and lemon, today I’m giving it a few additional flavours to bring out its rich and robust taste profile.


In a food processor, combine a little peeled fresh ginger, with some garlic cloves, fresh chilli, olive oil and a pinch of turmeric. Blend into a smooth paste. I usually do this by eye so if you want more chilli or garlic flavour, just add a little more. Be careful with the turmeric though, as too much will lend a bitterness to the marinade.

Brush the marinade on to both sides of the mackerel fillets. Leave for 10 minutes at room temperature.

Grill or barbecue on a high heat for about two minutes on each side. Allow to rest for a few minutes and then season with a little flaky salt. Serve with some creme fraiche, chopped fresh coriander and a few lime wedges.