Pakistani Food

A Crunchier Lahori Fried Fish – A twist on the classic Pakistani recipe!

Lahori Fried Fish

People go to weddings for the korma. I don’t. I am straight up there for the Lahori Fried Fish and the dessert. For most of my life my “shadi” plate has been half a plate piled with hot naans and the other half with savory unctuous battered deep fried, but so damn good Lahori Fried Fish. My father would always warn me about the perils of eating seafood in the summer, but fish over korma any day. 

Lahori Fish, but Better

So in my head Lahori fish always has a spiced chickpea batter and then. Well, and then, my brother got married. That was exciting and all, but there was this fish at his nikah (the Muslim wedding ceremony). This crunchy, spicy, punchy fish. It had all the flavors of a lahori fried fish, but the CRUNCH people, the crunch.

I was so excited that I immediately went into the hosts’ kitchen in my “chamak challo” (glitter and sparkle) dressed for a wedding state and enthusiastically began complimenting a confused catering staff who told me where I could leave my plate.

Leave my plate. Pffft. I had just started eating.Lahori Fried Fish

I asked a server what it was and he said Lahori Fried Fish in a matter of fact way that suggested I was a total dummy. Clearly he had not given much thought to this crunch situation. And then there was this sauce – what’s the sauce I asked them? The server, who had now had just about enough with me told me it was tartar sauce and then disappeared before I could question him about the mayo used to make the sauce. My husband wasn’t quite so academic in his enjoyment and was slathering the tartar sauce on the fish, sprinkling with the provided chaat masala and eating on. 

Like a good wife (lol) I decided to follow suit. 

What I have learnt about Lahori Fried Fish

In my intensive googling since I have discovered several things. One, that back in the day you wouldn’t use “besan” or chickpea flour, but now it seems integral. Two, to add an egg or not to add an egg. My breading stayed on and crunchy, but I am not above a little breading fix if needed. Three, some recipes called for the addition of rice flour or cornstarch. Rice flour provides a sharper crunch and if I was motivated enough to grind up some rice I could have used it, but instead I went with breadcrumbs and am pleased with the outcome.

Lahori Fried Fish

Is this as good as the Lahore Fried Fish I had that day? I don’t know, because that day was one of the happiest of my life. Memory is fickle that way, it is hard to separate fact from sentiment. Here is what I do know: this is crunchy-spicy-delicious and I’d happily eat it any day of the week. 

If you make this recipe do take a few seconds to rate it! I would love to see your recreations so tag me on instagram @flourandspiceblog !

4.67 from 6 votes
Lahori Fried Fish
A Crunchier Lahori Fried Fish
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Pakistani
Keyword: lahori fried fish, pakistani fish recipe
  • 2 lb any white firm fish cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 3/4 tsp garlic paste
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2.5 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1.5 tbsp ajwain (caraway seeds)
  • 1 tbsp kasuri methi / fenugreek leaves (heaped)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2-3 tbsp red chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne)
  • 1/3 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp black salt (optional)
  • 2 tbsp besan/ chickpea flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp breadcrumbs
For serving
  • Chaat Masala
  • Lemon Wedges
  • Tartar Sauce
  • Oil (for frying)
  1. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish, sprinkle w a little salt (not included in ingredients), add the garlic paste and mix deftly. 

  2. Coarsely grind the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and ajwain in a grinder (4-5 seconds) and add to the fish along with the rest of the spices and the methi

  3. Set aside for 20 minutes

  4. Heat an inch or more of oil in a pan. 

  5. When the oil starts to shimmer then mix the breadcrumbs and besan into the fish to give good coverage. If the mixture is too dry then add a splash of water, but not too much. You want the mixture to stick to the fish, but not become gummy. If it does become gummy then add a little more besan and breadcrumb

  6. Test fry a piece of fish 3 minutes on each side, adjust seasoning if needed. 

  7. Continue frying the fish in batches and drain on paper towels. 

  8. Serve right away with tartar sauce, wedges of lemon and chaat masala on the side

Recipe Notes

Good News Air Fryer Owning Friends: several readers have confirmed with me that this recipe does well in the air fryer too!

Wanna make me later? Pin this photo right here!

Lahori Fried Fish

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  • Reply
    Deanna Ahmad

    Hi Sarah, the instructions seem a bit incomplete to me. When do we add in.their chili flakes, methi leaves and black pepper?

    • Reply

      Hi Deanna! In the instructions it says to add the coarsely ground seeds to the fish along with the rest of the spices, but I did realize that methi is an herb not a spice so I have edited it to say “the rest of the spices and methi”. Thanks so much for pointing it out! Hope you try it – do let me know what you think!

  • Reply

    Such a cute story, and in my experience rice flour does tend to make fried stuff crunchier- but I agree grinding it is an added step I don’t always want to partake. My grandfather loves fried fish, will try this version out- your recipes are always on point!

    • Reply

      Thanks Shumaila! Appreciate it as always 🙂

  • Reply
    Rebecca | Becky Keeps House

    Fish season is so on right now in Islamabad, and I can’t WAIT to try this one. My family loves Lahori Fry Fish and I usually use the Shan mix when I’m in a rush (which is ALWAYS). Going to give this one a try soon Inshallah and let you know how it works out.

    • Reply

      Shaan Masalas always hit a punch so I don’t blame you at all! I am pretty sure you can mix breadcrumbs into that to good effect too!

  • Reply
    Izzah | TeaforTurmeric

    Sarah, I tried this recipe tonight and was taken aback by how delicious (and crunchy) it was.
    I made it with tilapia..and let me tell you, tilapia never tasted so good!!! haha. I also used gluten-free bread crumbs and they worked perfectly (in case anyone is interested in making a GF version). Thanks so much for this keeper recipe!

    • Reply

      thanks so much for trying it and I am thrilled that you liked it!!! and great tip on the GF breadcrumbs!

  • Reply

    I really want to eat fish more regularly and this recipe looks like it would be a hit in the house!

  • Reply

    This was sooo simple and so good! Big hit with mom as well as hubby 😀
    My mom’s sole farmaish when she stays with me is to have fish, so Im always looking for new and interesting things to do. And I have to say this was better than any shadi ki lahori fried fish I ever remember having 🙂 best part is, I scaled up your masala list, grinded them all together and now have a jar full of lahori fish masala ready to go for the next time. So pleased with myself 😉

    • Reply

      That is absolutely fantastic to hear! I was just thinking that I should crank by the mirch a little and make it for the kids (they’ve discovered this new love for lahori fried fish)

  • Reply
    Linda Kaufman

    Sarah, thank you very much! I really liked the recipe, I took it to my recipe book)

    • Reply

      Thank you Linda! Am SO glad to hear you enjoyed it!

    Penny for your thoughts?