How to make kerala fish curry

Kerala Fish Curry is a very popular South Indian recipe which is prepared with sardine, ginger, coconut milk, garlic, onions, green chillies, tamarind and some spices. This sour dish is perfect for serving with plain steamed rice but you can also enjoy it with chapati. If you are someone who is trying to eat healthy then, this dish is perfect for you as it is high in proteins. The spicy flavours of this recipe will surely take your food experience up by a notch! This curry recipe can be an ideal choice for including in your next party or get-together menu. If you love gorging onto the South Indian cuisine then, you must go for this dish as it contains the best of southern spices and flavours! So, go and grab the ingredients and make this recipe for yourself and your loved ones by just following the easy steps mentioned below! Pair it with Curd Rice, Jeera Rice or Chapati. Don’t forget to share your feedback in the comments section!

Ingredients of Kerala Fish Curry

  • 8 sardines
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 6 curry leaves
  • 8 onion shallot
  • 1 tablespoon red chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 5 garlic
  • 3 green chilli
  • salt as required
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 cup tamarind

How to make Kerala Fish Curry

Step 1

Place a pan over medium flame and heat coconut oil in it. Add mustard and fenugreek seeds in it. Let them crackle and add curry leaves. Crush ginger and garlic together and add the paste to the pan and mix well. Add green chillies, chopped shallots and salt in it. Saute well.

Step 2

Take a small bowl and add little water with red chilli, turmeric and coriander powder. Mix and make a paste out of it. Add the paste to the pan and pour half cup water and stir well.

Step 3

Soak the tamarind in water for 5 minutes and put it in the pan along with coconut milk. Add the fish pieces and simmer for 20-25 minutes with the lid on. Turn off the flame and serve hot with rice or chapati!

How to make kerala fish curry

Kerala Fish Curry is a traditional Malabari dish and is a tad spicy curry. But, most importantly, it has a signature taste of kudampuli (Dried Malabar tamarind) and curry leaves. Make this authentic recipe at home with and without coconut. Here is how to make it.

How to make kerala fish curry

On weekends I usually like to make rice with dal or some curry.

Hence, I use fish pieces to make Alleppey Fish Curry, Tomato Fish Curry, Methi Machli, often. But, nothing beats the kottayam style Kerala fish curry with Malabar tamarind. Right?

After all who doesn’t like fish pieces cooked golden brown with a fiercely spicy gravy?

Traditional food from Kerala is very delish and wholesome. This fish curry is one of those.

It is also popularly known as Nadan Meen Curry. We add kudumpulli to it.

Now, kudumpulli is also known as the fish tamarind or Malabar tamarind.

And, that gives this fish curry a very appealing taste and a slight tang and a smoky flavor.

Apart from that, because of shallots and curry leaves, this dish tastes very authentic and refined.

What is Kudampuli?

Kudampuli is an Indian spice that is used to impart sour taste to the dishes. It is a small round shaped fruit and is used in it’s dried form.

“Garcinia gummi-gutta is a tropical species of Garcinia native to Indonesia.

Common names include Garcinia cambogia (a former scientific name), as well as brindleberry, Malabar tamarind and kudam puli (pot tamarind).

The fruit looks like a small pumpkin and is green to pale yellow in color”. – Source

You can find it in Kerala stores in your city or Indian stores in the US. You can also order it online from Amazon.

Pro Tips by Neha

This curry tastes best when made in earthen pot or manchatti. I didn’t have it so I made it in a regular kadai.

Serve this curry at least 3-4 hours after making it. The flavors will mature with time and it will even get more delicious the next day.

If you do not have access to kudampuli, do try the recipe with tamarind and I am sure you will not be disappointed. Kokum can also be added for a Kadampuli like taste.

You may use any fish for making this smoky, pungent curry. I have used Seer fish.

This curry is piping hot red in color because we add loads of Kashmiri red chilli powder to it.

So, it doesn’t get too spicy but still gets the color.

You can always choose to reduce the amount of chilli used as per your liking. I love spicy food and this quantity of chilli suits my taste perfectly.

I have used coconut oil to make this dish as it contributes awesomely to the flavors. However, you may use any other oil that you deem fit.

Plus, mustard seeds, ginger garlic, and fenugreek seeds makes this dish flavourful. Hence, do add them without fail, ladies.

Adding a sprinkling of Kerala Garam Masala at the end makes it even more delicious.

Lastly, serve this fantastic fish curry with a plateful of rice and trust me, you would eat the happiest meal ever of your life.

And, it is all season accompaniment. Therefore, you can make it throughout the year.

Do follow my simple recipe to make it then?

Which fish can be used to make this curry?

I used Seer fish to make this recipe but you can use any fish like pomfret, sardine (Mathi), Mahi Mahi, etc.

This curry will taste great with seafood like prawns as well.

How to make it with coconut milk?

To make Kerala Fish Curry with coconut milk, instead of adding water in the below-mentioned steps, add 2 cups of thin coconut milk and cook the fish in it.

Serving Suggestions

This curry tastes best with steamed rice. However, you can also serve it with appams or parotta.

Mashed Kappa or Tapioca also tastes great with it. Check out the recipe to make Kappa here.

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Step By Step Recipe

Heat coconut oil in a pan. Make sure to make this curry in coconut oil only as it gives a very distinct flavor to the curry.

How to make kerala fish curry

Add mustard seeds and curry leaves and let them crackle for a few seconds.

How to make kerala fish curry

Add shallots (You can use sliced onion if shallots are not available), ginger, garlic and green chillies and fry until they turn golden brown.

How to make kerala fish curry

Mix coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, pepper powder and fenugreek powder in a bowl.

How to make kerala fish curry

Add a few drops of water and make a thick paste. Do not add too much water while making the paste otherwise, it will not brown properly.

How to make kerala fish curry

Add this paste in the pan.

How to make kerala fish curry

Fry until it turns brown. It will take 3-4 minutes to fry the paste.

How to make kerala fish curry

Now add 2 cups of water and kudampuli and bring it to a boil. If using coconut milk, replace water with thin coconut milk.

How to make kerala fish curry

Simmer the heat. Add fish and salt to taste and cook for 8-10 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and let the curry rest for 2-3 hours for the flavors to mature. Heat once more before serving. Serve hot with rice.

This Kerala Fish Curry recipe is one of the most favorite curry of mine and I want to share for a long time. And finally it’s time now. I would say why in the post. Read ahead.

How to make kerala fish curry

Kerala Fish Curry

Kerala fish curry is so special one for any fish lovers. As the name suggests it is from the Land of Coconuts,Kerala.As Kerala have a big coastal line, fish is the most used sea foods. In my aunt’s house, a person comes daily in a bi-cycle to sell fresh fish. Just imagine how tasty it will be to cook with fresh fish. I can’t just explain and I really miss that taste when I cook with frozen fishes I get here in US.

How to make kerala fish curry

As I was saying in the beginning, I was waiting for a long time to share my favorite fish curry because I couldn’t get a good picture of the curry.Each time, I feel the picture doesn’t convey the taste of the dish. I hope now, I did some decent job of capturing fish curry which justifies the taste. Do you agree?

How to make Kerala fish curry with Coconut

As the name suggests, we use coconuts to make this Kerala fish curry. We grind coconut with shallots, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds. The fenugreek seeds and the shallots gives the unique flavor the curry. Saute shallots, tomatoes in coconut oil. Add spices and tamarind extract. When the raw smell goes, add ground coconut. Let it boil for a few seconds. Now add cleaned and cut fish pieces. Cook till the fish pieces are done.

How to make kerala fish curry

They usually use a special tamarind called ‘Kodum puli’ or Kokum. It gives the unique taste to the curry. Sardine or Mathi meen is the perfect fish to try this curry. As I couldn’t find fresh Sardine’s here in US, I made this fish curry using Tilapia.A hardcore fish lover myself, I have made this fish curry with coconut a lot of times.This fish curry tastes great when eaten the next day. The fish would have soaked very well in the curry. If you can’t wait a day long, at least prepare 2 hours before you plan to serve.

How to make kerala fish curry

Let’s discuss ingredients

Fish – Sardine or Mathi fish is perfect to make this fish curry. If not you can use Tilapia.

Tamarind – I used normal tamarind we get in Indian stores.

Coconut – You can use fresh or frozen coconut,thawed.

Methi / Fenugreek seeds – Methi seeds are a must for this Fish curry. It gives a unique taste but do not use it more as it gives bitter taste.

Short video to make Fish curry

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How to make kerala fish curry

Recipe for Fish Curry using Tilapia


Tilapia Fish – 1 Lb (see notes)

Shallots – 7 or 8

Tomato – 1 chopped

Coconut oil – 2 tsp

Turmeric Powder – ½ Tsp

Red chili powder – 1 ½ Tsp

Coriander powder – 3 Tsp

Tamarind – lemon sized soaked in 1 cup water

Curry leaves – few

Mustard seeds – ½ Tsp

Methi seeds – ⅛ Tsp

Salt – as required

Coconut – ½ Cup grated

Jeera seeds – ½ Tsp

Methi seeds – ⅛ Tsp


  • Clean and cut the fish. Apply some turmeric and keep aside.
  • Grind the coconut with the ingredients under ‘ To grind’.
  • In a deep pan, add oil.
  • When the oil is hot add mustard seeds and methi seeds. When the mustard seeds crackle, add shallots and garlic.
  • Once the shallots saute till golden,add tomatoes and spice powders.
  • Cook till the tomatoes becomes mushy.
  • Extract the tamarind juice from the soaked tamarind. Add this tamarind extract to the cooked tomatoes.
  • Let it boil till the raw smell goes.
  • Add the ground coconut mixture in it. Add required salt.
  • Let it boil for a second and add fish pieces.
  • Cook in medium flame till the fish is cooked and soft.
  • Drizzle a tsp of coconut oil and add curry leaves. Close the pan and switch off the flame.
  • Serve the curry with rice.
  • How to make kerala fish curry
  • How to make kerala fish curry
  • How to make kerala fish curry
  • How to make kerala fish curry
  • How to make kerala fish curry
  • How to make kerala fish curry
  • How to make kerala fish curry
  • How to make kerala fish curry

How to make kerala fish curry

Hi dear friends, today i am sharing Kerala Fish you know kerala is known as the “Land of Spices”. And almost every dish has coconut and spices added for flavour, giving its cuisine a sharp pungency that is heightened with the use of tamarind. Seafood is the main diet in coastal Kerala.The cuisine of Kerala is linked in all its richness to the history, geography, demography and culture of the land. and coconut milk are widely used in dishes and curries. Kerala’s long coastline and strong fishing industry has contributed to many fish-based delicacies.Kerala Fish Curry can be prepared in many ways, such s with or without using coconut or coconut milk. Fish is a very good source of nutritional contents like omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, minerals and vitamins.

How to make kerala fish curry

“Kerala Fish Curry” is the simple but tasty recipe that will bring to you the typical Kerala flavour. Curry prepared in clay pot gives the ever best taste. And i am also preparing it in a clay pot. I am trying this in a slight change, hope you guys will enjoy .Well, it is pretty much a basic fish curry recipe, but the flavours of coconut takes it to another level. This curry tastes great with kappa (tapioca), appam, puttu, Chapathi and Rice.

How to make kerala fish curry

In Kerala, fish curry is incomplete without coconut. The sweetness of fresh coconut and the spiciness of red chillies perfectly complements the flavours of fresh fish. Keen to make this dish at home? You can now relish Kerala-style Coconut Fish Curry within 30 minutes. Read on to find out how!

Buy Seer (Surmai) Fish Steaks online on Licious. Explore our website for a range of other fresh seafood options such as Fish, Prawns and Crabs and prepare your next delicious recipe with Licious!

How to make kerala fish curry

  • 2 Medium onions
  • 1 medium tomato
  • ¾ cup coconut grated
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 8 Kashmiri red chillies
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 small bunch of Tamarind
  • 600 gms Surmai or Seer Fish Steaks or Bengali Cuts
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 Sprig Of Curry Leaves
  • A handful of Coriander leaves finely chopped
  • Salt as needed
  • 2 Medium onions
  • 1 medium tomato
  • ¾ cup coconut grated
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 8 Kashmiri red chillies
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 small bunch of Tamarind
  • 600 gms Surmai or Seer Fish Steaks or Bengali Cuts
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 Sprig Of Curry Leaves
  • A handful of Coriander leaves finely chopped
  • Salt as needed

How to make kerala fish curry

Recipe Tips

You can also use any other fish of your choice for this recipe.

Share your version of this recipe

Speaking of coconut fish curry, nothing beats the Kerala-style as it is all about the scrumptious combo of fish and coconut. How do you make coconut fish curry at home? Do share your version of the recipe with us.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use mustard oil for this recipe?

Yes. You can use any cooking oil for this recipe. Since it is a Kerala-style recipe, we prefer using coconut oil. However, you can twist your recipe with a different oil.

What can I add for the sourness if not tamarind?

You can use kokum or white vinegar to add a dash of sourness to your fish curry.

Hi friends, After a long time I am back. Got busy with my studies and family.

Let me share a traditional Kerala style fish curry. People from northern Kerala calls it Malabar fish curry / Kozhikodan fish curry, while those towards the Travancore region, calls it Kottayam style fish curry and some calls it simply Meen Mulakittath. This is the simplest to prepare fish curry which even the amateurs can cook at home easily. The curry tastes better on the second or third day after preparation.

Let me go straight into the preparation.

Meen Mulakittath

  1. Wash and soak the gambooge (Cocum/Kudampuli) in a glass of lukewarm water for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Chop the shallots into small pieces.
  3. Grind the ginger and garlic pieces into a paste form in a mixer.
  4. Clean and cut the fish into medium sized pieces. I suggest using Seer fish or Tuna.
  5. In an earthen clay pot (preferably – for the traditional taste) or a pan heat some oil.
  6. When oil gets hot add fenugreek seeds, saute it slightly and wait till it turns slightly dark.
  7. Add the chopped onions, the ginger garlic paste, curry leaves and green chillies to the pan and saute them till it gets slightly fried.
  8. Reduce the flame and add chilli powder (preferably Kashmiri Chilli), coriander powder (optional), turmeric powder and saute it well until they turn golden brown.
  9. Add the soaked gambooge, 1 cup of extra water and salt as needed (taste it!) to the mixture, cover it and allow it to boil.
  10. Add the fish pieces and add more water if needed, so that the fish pieces gets just covered.
  11. Cover with a lid and bring it to boil in low-medium flame. Usually it will take 20 to 30 minutes. Swirl the pot / pan in between.
  12. Once the fish gets cooked, turn off the flame and add some coconut oil over the curry.

This fish curry goes well with appam, idiyappam, kappa and other breakfast dishes.

Please see

  • My mom wont use corriander powder because it will reduce the shelf life of the curry.
  • Taste the curry, after preparation. If it is too sour remove one or two pieces of gambooge.
  • Kashmiri chilli gives intense red color to the curry, but it is less spicy. If you want to make the curry spicy, add normal chilli powder instead – Adjust the spiciness as per your tolerance.
  • In step 9, before adding the spices, make sure you reduced the flame and spices are not fried too much. Other wise the curry may taste bitter.
  • Don’t add too much water. Add water just to cover the fishes.
  • It is best to keep the curry idle for 1 day and serve it next day.
  • As the curry sits, it thickens a little and deepens the colour.
  • If you want a dry type curry, you can keep the lid open and cook it for more time in step 11.

Have you seen other fish curry recipes?

I am Dr. Cini P Moideen, a doc by profession. With my sister I photograph and share favorite recipes from our kitchen. I write less frequently because of my studies, but when ever I am free, I tries to come up with a good recipe. Bingo 🙂

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Fish molly aka fish mollee is a traditional dish from the Kerala Suriyani Christian Kitchen. Its fish curry (fish stew) prepared in coconut milk with a little difference.

Fish molly preparation

  1. Prepare the marination mix by mixing together all the ingredients.
  2. Apply them very well and evenly on the cleaned fish slices. Keep it aside for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat oil in a large Tawa or Kadai, and shallow fry the fish pieces until they are half cooked. Remove the fried pieces to another plate.
  4. In the same oil, add rest of the items and fry well.
  5. Add salt.
  6. Add corn flour into two tablespoon water and mix well without lump.
  7. When the onion pieces are tender (Onions should not loose its color; it should be only transparent), add thin coconut milk with constant stirring and allow it boil.
  8. When it starts boiling add the corn flour mix into the coconut milk, while simmering.
  9. Stir continuously in this stage.
  10. When it starts bubbling add the fried fish pieces and stir without touching the pieces.
  11. Cook it for another 5-10 minutes in a low flame.
  12. Add thick coconut milk, curry leaves etc at this stage and stir well by rotating the pan itself.
  13. Add pepper powder and switch of before it starts bubbling.
  14. Check salt and serve fish molly hot with Puttu / Chappathi / Pathiri.

Friends, I am Athira Sooraj, a passionate home baker! 🙂 I prefer to share simple Food Recipe for beginners and I just love cooking experiments..

Kerala fish curry recipe, learn to make Kottayam style Kerala fish curry/ Nadan fish curry with step by step pictures.

Nadan Meen Curry or Kerala Fish Curry is a traditional fish curry of Kerala otherwise known as Kottayam Fish Curry or Kerala Meen Curry, which is spicy and made with “Kudam puli” or Garcinia cambogia. Kudam puli is noted for its health benefits and traditionally used in fish curries, hence it also has the name “Meen Puli” or “Fish Tamarind”.

How to make kerala fish curry

It is said, fish curry made with kudam puli stays fresh longer, traditionally this fish curry is made in a “man chatti” or clay pot. I used my black clay “chatti” . you can also use the most common brown man chatti. Kudampuli, shallots, and curry leaves gives it its authentic taste though you can substitute it with onion. but the taste may vary slightly.

If you ever visit Kottayam or Kuttanad or Kumarakom. you should always ask for “meen pattichathu” though it is a bit spicy . it is a must try!! This is also a combination with boiled tapioca or kappa puzhungiyathu.

This recipe has been handed down from generations . I practically grow up with this curry and so did my cousins and relatives. in most Syrian Christian homes it is prepared almost every day. It is always said that this curry taste better the next day. so amma always says that let it sit in the “Meen Chatti” for a day, so that the fish gets absorbed by the “kudampuli” and the spices. and the gravy will get a little thick once it has cooled down.

You will be astonished at the amount of Kashmiri chilly used in this recipe. and if you like spicy food. you will love this to bits.

I have to mention, that a very encouraging reader, Alex Mathew, suggested that I make step by step method for this fish curry. with the correct amount of water etc. thank you Alex for giving me this suggestion which I hope will help all the novice cooks. and ofcourse bachelors.

How to make kerala fish curry

Kerala fish curry/ Nadan fish curry with step by step pictures:
Here are the stars! the cleaned fish, cheriya ulli or shallots, curry leaves, green chilli, ginger, garlic, and kudam puli.