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Easy Malawian Chambo (Fried Fish in Gravy)

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 1208kcal


  • 10 dried peri peri chilies
  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 3 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 4 peaches
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 red onions
  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tilapia fillets
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 green pepper


  • All ingredients ready? Let's begin!

To make the curry spice blend:

  • If the chili peppers still have their seeds, carefully slice them lengthwise and scrape the seeds out with a knife or spoon. Discard the seeds.
  • In a strong blender, add the chili peppers, coriander seeds, black peppercorn, poppy seeds, black mustard seeds, turmeric, cinnamon, and cloves.
  • Blend on high until everything is finely ground. If you don’t have a blender, you can use a good old-fashioned mortar and pestle.
  • Transfer the spice blend to a jar with a tight lid or another airtight container for storage.

To make the fruit chutney:

  • Put the apricots in a large bowl. Boil several cups of water and pour over the apricots until they are covered. Leave them to soak for at least an hour. They should have ballooned and grown in size.
  • Drain the water into another bowl and save it. Roughly chop the apricots into small pieces.
  • Peel the peaches by making a careful cut all the way around the perimeter that only just cuts through the skin. Make another similar cut going around through the first (so it will be in fourths). Pinch the corner of the skin between a knife and your finger and pull the skin off. It may take a few pulls.
  • Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits before cutting into small chunks.
  • Peel and dice the red onions.
  • In a pot, add the apricot water, chopped apricots, chopped peaches, chopped onion, raisins, sugar, chili powder, coriander powder, and 2 tsp salt.
  • Place the pot over medium-high heat until it begins to boil then turn it down to low and allow to simmer for an hour. Don’t cover it and make sure to stir occasionally.
  • After an hour, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to a glass jar or other airtight container.

To make the fish:

  • Generously rub salt on all sides of the fish. Drizzle lemon juice across the surface of the fish then dunk it in a bowl of flour until it is coated.
  • In a large skillet, heat 4 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat.
  • Place each fillet in the skillet and cook for 4 minutes. Flip the fillets to the other side and cook for another 4 minutes. If you have a food thermometer, you can use it to check if the fish is done.
  • Cooked fish should be at least 145F in the middle.
  • Remove the fish and place on a plate covered with a paper towel.
  • Peel and dice the white onion. Deseed and chop the green pepper. Chop the carrot.
  • Add the onion to the skillet over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent.
  • Add 2 tbsp of the spice blend you made earlier and stir for 2 minutes.
  • Add the rest of the spices as well as 1 ½ cups of water. Stir constantly until well mixed.
  • Add to the skillet the green pepper and carrot. Bring to a boil then turn the heat to low.
  • Allow to simmer for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
  • Add ¼ cup of the previously made fruit chutney. Stir thoroughly.
  • Place the fish fillets into the saucepan and spoon the sauce over until the fillets are covered.
  • Cover the skillet with a lid and allow to sit for 5 minutes over low heat.
  • Remove from heat and serve. Make sure to coat the fish in plenty of gravy first and enjoy!



Calories: 1208kcal | Carbohydrates: 250g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 85mg | Sodium: 1328mg | Potassium: 1986mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 162g | Vitamin A: 4988IU | Vitamin C: 65mg | Calcium: 271mg | Iron: 10mg