Each family has a secret blend of spices that they use in curries, and while the quantity of the ingredients varies, they all have the same basic components. The addition of an extra touch of one spice, or the omission of one entirely, is what makes them unique for a home. Our recipe strives to capture the greatest and most authentic flavor of fish curry from Southern India, but we recognize that this dish can take on so many different shapes that it’s impossible to capture it all in one recipe.

This fish curry, also known as Meen Kulambu, is a delicately flavored meal filled with sour tamarind and served with idlis, dosas, flatbreads, or plain steamed basmati rice to soak up all of the delectable sauce. You can use whatever white firm fish you choose, such as cod or halibut, but tilapia, snapper, cod, mahi-mahi, or mackerel are also good options.


Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon water, plus 2 dried red chile peppers
  • 1 tamarind pulp the size of a golf ball
  • 2 cups of  boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 small coconut, flesh grated
  • 2 cups coconut milk, divided

For Fish:

  • 16 ounces thick white fish, cut into 2-inch pieces

To make the curry:

  • 2 tablespoons oil (vegetable)
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds  
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds  
  • 1 green chili pepper
  • 2 medium onions, minced into a paste and divided
  • 1 coarsely sliced large tomato
  • 1 tablespoon paste (garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

How to prepare:

  1. Collect the necessary components.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle and a teaspoon of water, pound the dry red chilies into a coarse pulp.
  3. Add the tamarind to the boiling water and squeeze it well with your hands to extract all of the pulp. Remove the pith and seeds from the thick tamarind liquid and discard.
  4. Combine the ground coriander and turmeric with the red chili paste and tamarind juice. Season with salt to taste. 1 cup coconut milk and 1 cup shredded coconut Mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour the marinade mixture over the pieces of fish in a big, flat dish. Make sure all of the pieces are covered in the marinade and set aside for 3 hours.
  6. In a deep pan, heat the cooking oil over medium heat until it is hot. Combine the curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, and green chili in a mixing bowl. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the oil no longer splatters.
  7. Half of the onion paste should be added and sautéed until the onion begins to color slightly.
  8. Add the diced tomato to the mix.
  9. Sauté until the spices release their oil and the tomato darkens. Stir the mixture constantly.
  10. Set the fish aside after removing it from the marinade. Stir the marinade liquid into the pan.
  11. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Combine the garlic paste, cumin, pepper, and the remaining onion paste in a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining cup of coconut milk and stir to combine.
  12. Reduce to low heat and cook until the oil appears on top of the gravy.
  13. Add the fish chunks and cook until they’re fully done. If you must stir, do so carefully to avoid shattering the fish pieces. Turn the heat off.
  14. Enjoy your curry with the side dishes of your choosing!

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