Kaluhi's Kitchen

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Pan Fried Fish with Sweet and Sour Ukwaju Sauce

It was 1999 and me and my best friend Ngina were playing outside. Her cousin,Shena, had just come back from the coast and ofcourse, with plenty of goodies. One of the things she brought were ukwaju (tamarind). To us they looked like dates. And if they looked like dates, and felt like dates, then they had to taste like dates…How wrong we were. After puting a handful into our mouths, it was not long before we spat them out. They were so sour. So much so that our tongues kept zinging. LOL. I vowed never to eat sour ukwaju ever again, and wondered why people even liked them.

Now, older and wiser, I have learnt how to use this sour ingredient. After my eldest sister brought them home after some days at the coast, I decided to give it a try. This totally paid off!

Food bloggers in Kenya_Kenyan food blogs_Kenyan food bloggers_KALUHIS KITCHEN_pan fried fish with sweet and sour mkwaju sauce_



Best pan-fried fish Ingredients.

For the fish

best pan fried fish marinade by Kaluhi Adagala of Kaluhis Kitchen

1 large tilapia fillet

1 lemon, squeezed

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

4 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon of white pepper

½ teaspoon of salt

Vegetable oil for frying



Put your fish in a bowl. Add the minced garlic, lemon juice, soy sauce, salt and white pepper. I bought my fish fillet from city market.

garlic is a very important component of fish marination as seen in this pan fried fish with sweet and sour mkwaju sauce_

marinating fish using lemon, garlic, soysauce, white pepper and some salt to give he meal max flavor_pan fried fish with sweet and sour mkwaju sauce_Kaluhis kITCHEN

Rub it onto the surface of the fish and then cover with a cling film. Let this marinate in the fridge for about 40 minutes. Do not marinate for a long time as the same lemon that tenderizes the flesh will begin shredding it if left too long.

After the time has lapsed, remove from the fridge. Lightly grease a non-stick pan and light fry it.

frying the fish, about 5 minutes on each side until the flesh turns white_do not remove the clinging pieces of garlic_Kaluhis Kitchen

Allow 4 minutes on each side so that it gets a nice golden brown char

For the sauce

ingredients for the sweet and sour mkwaju sauce which can go well with fish or pork_mkwaju is also known as tamarind

1 large tomato, grated

1 small onion, finely diced

4 tablespoons of honey

3 tamarind seeds (optional)

NOTE: If you do not have the tamarind, you can still work with just lemon. You will still attain the sweet and sour taste.


Lightly sautee the onions until they are soft. This add the grated tomatoes, the lemon juice the honey and tamarind. Mix it up. Add ¼ cup of hot water, turn down the heat and then cover to allow it to simmer for 5-7 minutes.

preparation of the sweet and sour tamarind or mkwaju sauce

After it has thickened to your liking and water level reduced, begin plating.

Put the sauce on the plate first. Cut the fish into uniform pieces then place them on top of the sauce. Garnish with some fresh coriander then serve.

how to plate the mkwaju sauce (tamarind sauce) which will serve as the base of the pan fried fish


plating of pan fried fish with sweet and sour mkwaju sauce_as demonstrated by kaluhi adagala from her kitchen

If I could clone a meal just to eat it every single day, this would be it.  I could have this over and over coz it was so good.

Kenyan food blogs_Kenyan food bloggers_KALUHIS KITCHEN_pan fried fish with sweet and sour mkwaju sauce_

Doesn’t this looks really really good? Whether with rice or ugali, you will not be disapointed 🙂

Kenyan food as presented by top kenyan food blogger Kaluhi Adagala of KALUHIS kITCHEN_pan fried fish with sweet and sour mkwaju sauce_

Check out this other recipe where we made a sweet and sour sauce. You can use this sauce with your fries, drizzled over dry fried pork or with nyamchom.



Download the recipe here

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  1. I could eat this in seconds! Iove fish!!!!!! i will try the sauce with pork too…

    • kaluhiskitchen

      July 17, 2015 at 9:44 am

      Cheers to all fish lovers! This would go well with pork too coz of the sweet and sour element

  2. How do you prepare the tamarind? Peel it then chop it up it simply chop it up as is?

    • kaluhiskitchen

      July 19, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      I just peeled the woody cask off, then put the seeds in the tomatoes together with their sticky coating.

  3. that looks sooo yummy

  4. Sasa juu Obama atafanya tukae kejani hii wknd yote, perfect indoor plot has just been hacked! And this is soo easy thank you. 🙂

  5. This looks amazeballs!! though I don’t take Sea food…. You’ve nailed the sauce.

    http://tastiedine.wordpress.com {Foodie Blog}

    • kaluhiskitchen

      July 23, 2015 at 5:59 pm

      Its tilapia darling… that isn’t sea food, but I am guessing maybe fish aint your thing. That’s ok. You can try the sauce with pork. It will be just as fabulous!

  6. Tamarind seeds are a rumour..will probably try the lemon, or the good old tartar.

    • kaluhiskitchen

      July 28, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      LMAO… I can understand the struggle. But I encourage you to use what you have at hand, which I can see you have already settled on. That’s greattoo! 🙂

  7. wow! I just stumbled on this blog ! WOW amaizing

  8. hi, i tried this over the weekend with fried beef and it was amazing. totally orgasmic .thank you

    • kaluhiskitchen

      November 10, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      Hey Lisa!

      This is one of my all time favorite fish recipes. I am so glad you loved it too. Cheers to many more mouthgasms :))

  9. This is so amazing…. I’ve been following up on your blogblog and it’s such an inspiration… this is a must try recipe over the weekend

  10. This is amazing, simplicity in dishes. One word awesome. I love this dish and I’ll try it out

  11. This is possibly the best fish recipe ever!I found tamarind chutney in nakumatt as I had no clue what ukwaju was and couldn’t find it in my area,I swapped and it was just finger lickin toe lickin pure heaven!

  12. You are the best, super amazing!

  13. ive got to try this!! ??

  14. Making this now…whilst being mommy to my clingy almost 10 month old.It is Easter Monday 2017…Fish in the fridge,prepping the ukwaju seeds,Rice cooking.Can’t wait

  15. Not much of a kitchen guy compared to my lady buhr I gorra try this for her. Having Mumary orgasm right now

  16. How am I only seeing this blog today? Awesome. Can’t wait for weekend so I can try this recipe. How many does one tilapia fillet serve?

    • kaluhiskitchen

      July 20, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      One tilapia can serve one, it can serve two, it can sere four. There is no standard rule. It will all depend on you and on the size of your fish, how much you eat and how many people you are cooking for.

  17. I can just Taste the zinginess of the tamarind 😋
    Would you know where to get tamarind in Nairobi?

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