Lady Fish Curry (Kaane or Sand Whiting)

Lady Fish Curry (kaane or sand whiting) in which the fish is first marinated, then shallow fried and finally cooked in a coconut and spice based sauce. Delicious with hot steamed rice.

Lady Fish Curry (Kaane or Sand Whiting)

'TIS CHRISTMAS IS THE SEASON FOR A RICH KAANE (pronounced: Kaa-neigh) CURRY. A fish curry that is nostalgic and sticks out the most when I see kaane (whiting) at my local fish shop is this 'Lady Fish Curry' (kaane or sand whiting). The taste of this fish curry is still in my memory. Growing up, the amount of choices in my diet were limited compared to today. A taste of this curry will reveal that I was raised on a very Mangalorean diet, all home cooked by my mum. To this day, I believe this is one of the best fish curries!

Lady fish/kaane (aka whiting or sand whiting in Australia) is a beautiful white fleshed silvery looking fish and is Mangalore’s tastiest fish. It is also one of my most favourite fishes and was available in plenty when I was growing up. As far as I can remember, it was always an expensive fish. Kaane fish are found in freshwater and salt water although the kane from freshwater taste truly amazing.

Have you ever wondered why this fish is so tasty? The unique taste of kaane is attributed to the fact that kaane fish is believed to be a meat eater unlike some other fish which have a vegetable-based diet. The choicest fishes weigh between 150gm and 170gm each and this weight range was what my mum hoped to find each time she sourced this fish. This fish was available throughout the year in Udupi and Mangalore and the best kaane are caught in the waters around Mangalore. However, the ones my mother used to buy were caught in Malpe (an important port and a major fishing harbour on the Karnataka coast) which is about 49km away from Mangalore.

I grew up eating this fish as my mum used to make this fish very often. I enjoyed cleaning this fish because it was simple to clean with one main bone in the centre and the fins were not sharp. My mum made many preparations with this fish such as, kaane coconut curry, kaane jeeri meeri curry (with cumin and pepper), fried kaane with roce curry (kaane fried and then cooked in a coconut- based curry), kaane pepper curry, kaane bafat curry, kaane indad curry etc. The curry bases for each of these curries were very different and made by blending a combination of spices, each of which are unique.

Whichever the preparation, every curry was relished by me and my siblings. Occasionally, there were leftovers for breakfast to have with conji or chapati and me and my siblings always hung around for the leftover curry. As such, we could not have enough of this fish then and funnily, even now. The kaane we get in Australia are around 400g each and although fleshy, they taste much different to the ones from Malpe. Having said this, they are still a delight to cook and we buy them regularly.

My husband absolutely loves kaane fish. One evening last week when I came back from work, my husband had a cheeky grin on his face, and I could sense he was up to cooking something special for me. Exactly as I thought, he had bought beautiful kaane fish from the local fish shop and had made a delicious curry for dinner. I had a look at the fish on the platter, quickly took some photographs before we sat for dinner. During dinner, I suggested to him that we should post this new recipe on my website and he kindly agreed.

My husband is not a fan of blending the masala as it is time consuming and hence resorts to using only powder masala to make his curries. Bingo! My opinion of a perfect week night fish curry.

Here is an extremely simple kaane curry made from basic pantry staples and mimics a kaane curry that my mother used to make. The taste comes from marinating the fish with some simple spices, then frying the fish gently for a few minutes before adding to a coconut-based sauce.

If you do try this recipe, please make sure to post on my Facebook Deliciously Indian along with a link or if it’s Instagram, drop a story and tag us on #deliciouslyindian. I would love to see what you create.

Lady Fish/Kane Curry (Sand Whiting)

Catherine Lavina Mendonsa
Lady fish/kane curry is a Mangalorean fish curry in which the lady fish/kane are first marinated, gently shallow fried and finally cooked in a coconut and spice based sauce. Shallow frying the fish elevates this classic curry to new levels. Serve with steamed rice or pan polay (neer dosa) during this festive season for those you love, and you are sure they will relish every mouthful of this delicate curry.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 29 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 14 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4


  • 4 medium size Lady Fish/Kane or Sand Whiting
  • 2 tsp. Kashmiri chilli powder or to taste
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • ½ tsp. turmeric powder
  • tsp. salt
  • 3-4 tbsp. white vinegar to make a paste
  • Oil to shallow fry fish

For the curry sauce

  • ½ cup thick coconut milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 medium tomatoes chopped
  • tsp. Kashmiri chilli powder or to taste
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
  • ¾ tsp. cumin powder
  • ½ tsp. coriander powder
  • 2 green chillies sliced
  • 1 tsp. salt or to taste

For the garnish

  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic sliced
  • Oil to shallow fry onion


  • Clean each fish and score both sides of each fish four times. Make a marinade with chilli powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder, salt and vinegar. Apply the marinade to the fish and set aside for 30 minutes.
  • While the fish is marinating, prepare the curry sauce. Combine all the curry sauce ingredients in a deep wide saucepan (wide enough to hold all 4 fishes) and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for 3 minutes or until tomatoes are nearly cooked. Season to taste if required. Remove from heat and keep warm.
  • Heat a heavy based large shallow frying pan on medium and add the oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the marinated fish and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side. This is done to sear the fish and partially cook it.
  • Transfer the fried fish into the curry sauce carefully. Bring the curry to a boil on medium. As the fish is almost cooked in step 3, you will need to cook the fish only for 1-2 minutes once it comes to a boil. Transfer the fish and the curry carefully to a warm serving platter.
  • For the garnish, in a shallow frying pan, fry the onion until golden brown (about 6-7 minutes). Add the sliced garlic half-way through when the onion is frying. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  • Garnish the fish and serve immediately with steamed rice or pan polay (neer dosa).


Use medium size lady fish/kane for this recipe.  This size has the best taste however if you cannot find them in medium size, use any available size.
Keyword Fish curry, Seafood, Seafood curry
Lavina with Deliciously Indian

Hi, I’m Catherine!

I’m all about creating tasty Indian dishes with whatever’s on hand, even when I’m short on time or budget. I love turning simple ingredients into flavorful delights. Join me on this culinary adventure where we’ll explore the magic of Indian cuisine, one delicious dish at a time!

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  1. Emmanuel uthup April 27, 2024 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    Just had kane fish . My God, relished it much. Regularly going to buy. Well, benefits- High in Omega fatty acids, & lowers bp etc. Check with Google for more. Kudos to Mangalore kane fish curry & fry

  2. Catherine Lavina Mendonsa April 28, 2024 at 7:40 am - Reply


    Happy to hear you relished my kaane curry. Thank you for your feedback and a star rating. Much appreciate it!

  3. Sarah June 8, 2024 at 7:20 am - Reply

    5 stars
    I made this today. I normally don’t cook with coconut but had to trust you on this and am I glad I did! It turned out simply delicious! I would also like to thank you for being very clear and detailed about the process, from how many cuts on the fish to how many minutes it needed to fry on each side, just brilliant explanation for every step.

    • Catherine Lavina Mendonsa June 9, 2024 at 7:25 am - Reply

      Hi Sarah

      Thank you so much for trying out my Lady Fish Curry (Kaane or Sand Whiting). I am happy you enjoyed this delicious fish preparation and found my instructions easy to follow. Much appreciate your feedback.

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