Life. Love. Food

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. Debbie

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

    • kaluhiskitchen

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

  2. Kui

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

    • kaluhiskitchen

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

  3. irene

    that looks sooo yummy

    • kaluhiskitchen

      You have no idea how yummy it was Irene… too good…

  4. wavinya kimeu

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

    • kaluhiskitchen

      You got that right! This will be a KK weekend for sure 🙂

  5. Cheptoo Cece

    This looks amazeballs!! though I don’t take Sea food…. You’ve nailed the sauce. {Foodie Blog}

    • kaluhiskitchen

      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!


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

    • kaluhiskitchen

      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. Ann Njeri

    wow! I just stumbled on this blog ! WOW amaizing

  8. Lisa

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

    • kaluhiskitchen

      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. lulu_the_designer

    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

    • kaluhiskitchen

      I am so glad to hear that. This recipe is a definite must try.

  10. Vivian

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

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Thank you! Do let me know how it all goes :)))

  11. ivy

    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!

    • kaluhiskitchen

      It is the best, and one of my personal favorite recipes to date. No dissapoitments with this one!

  12. Frank

    You are the best, super amazing!

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Thank you <3

  13. Priscilla

    ive got to try this!! ??

    • kaluhiskitchen

      for sure!!

  14. Nkirote

    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

    • kaluhiskitchen

      <3 . Pass some kisses to your little angel from Aunty K :***

  15. erick

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

    • kaluhiskitchen

      There is always a first time, and maybe the kitchen may slowly grow on you :)))

  16. JoyDott

    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

      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. Barbara

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

    • kaluhiskitchen

      City market. Ngara food market. Zucchini. chandarana

  18. AJ

    This was sooo yum! Tried it today. Thank you

    • kaluhiskitchen


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