Sunday, April 05, 2009

Nadan Varutharacha Meen Koottan (Kerala Style Fish Curry)

Fish....Almost every Malayali will love fish, no matter what. In my house we used to have a fish variety at least 4 or 5 days a week, yes i know that's almost all week :-). If my mom doesn't cook fish for some reason i would be so mad at her, i will keep asking till i finish my lunch or dinner. In Kerala we get lots of fresh fish where my mom makes different kinds of curries and fish fries, yum.... those were the days .....P~(drooling)

We make our fish curry in a chatti(utensil made of sand). The chatti in our home has a story to tell. The story that ends with, " Wives know better". When we went to Kerala last vacation, I mentioned that I would like to take a chatti back with me. My hubby had a big problem with that, and was making all kinds of excuses. He was confident that the chatti wouldn’t make it home in one piece. Thanks to my persistence, the chatti made it home with us. Guess what he wants to bring back next time Ha-ha..!!

I ran out of curry leaves, we use a lots of curry leaves too

Now to the fish. Fresh fish is hard to come by, unless you have a Chinese store with fresh fish. Indian stores have frozen fish , but some of them lose their taste when frozen. Back home, we have meen-karans ( fish monger) that brings fish right to your doorsteps. When I was a kid, they used to come on a cycle, with a basket of fish tied to the back of the cycle. They would honk their horns as a signal, and kids were often made to run out of the house to flag him down. Then my Grandmother would look and choose the fish, and sometimes neighbors all gather to discuss fish. If you had a cat, it would be close by, sniffing and rubbing against your legs, hoping to get some heads and tails.

In Kerala fish curry is prepared in lots of varieties. Recipes also differs from city to city. I have made one of them & now let's go on to the recipe.


  1. Fish 1 lb [ any fish cut to 1 1/2 ' piece]
  2. Ginger 1tbs
  3. Onion 1/3 cup
  4. Green chili as required
  5. Chili powder 1 tbs
  6. Turmeric 1/2 tbs
  7. Curry leaves
  8. Tamarind 1 tbs (or to the size of small Gooseberry(nellikka))
  9. Coconut 1/2 cup
  10. Coriander powder 2 tbs
  11. Chili powder 1/2 tsp
  12. Pearl onion 5 or 6

->In a hot pan fry coconut till light brown the add coriander powder, chili pearl onion and fry for few more minutes, then allow it to cool. Grind well to make a paste(The more it grinds the better it tastes).

-> Extract Tamarind Pulp.

-> In a Chatti add the rest of the ingredients from 1 to 7, the pulp and bring it to a boil.

-> Be very gently, stir the curry very carefully without breaking the pieces.

-> Once the fish is cooked, add the cocunut paste to it.

-> Once the sides starts to lather up/boil, take it of the stove.


The curry is good right off the stove, but the flavor intensifies after a day.

The curry can be left out in room temperature, especially in winter. Every night it is slightly warmed over the stove. During winter, our fish curry stays outside for atleast 3 days.

Coriander powder and coconut is omitted to increase shelf life.

Adding coconut oil over the fish curry after it is cooked can add a wonderful aroma, and I don’t recommend missing this step.

To serve : My favorite way is to eat this with rice. Also goes well with puttu and the perpetual favorite, kappa and meen.


This Recipe is an entry for the event Grammathu Kaimanam/Village Special Recipe Event - April 2009 hosted by Shama Nagarajan



This is my first visit here,Sangeetha...Nice blog with nice title...OOOh..aa chatti kanditte kothiyavunnu...

Deepa Hari

Nice write up Sangeetha...Curry looks yum...What kind of fish did u use?

Even i have a chatti....came here in full piece...i don't use it much.

Poornima Nair

Hi Sangeetha...the fish curry looks awesome...reminds me of my moms curries chatti didn't make it in one piece, was so upset.

Priya Sriram

Enjoyed reading the story behind the fish curry... Love the chatti picture very much Sangeetha... Brings back nice memories!! :) :)
Fish curry looks completely yumm!!


Thank you Vrinda,for visiting my blog and a sweet comment

Thank you Poornima for your lovely comment and ho..I am sorry that u'r chatti did't make it. Hope fully u can make it next time.

Thank you Deepa, & i think you should use your chatti to make fish or chicken curry it enriches the taste. The fish i used was Tilapia you can also make it with Salmon, Black pomfret or any fleshy fish.

Priya that was very prity comment thank you.
& thanks everyone again

Shama Nagarajan

Thank you dear for such a lovely recipe......nice post..


Thanx for visiting my space sangeetha. U have a pretty good blog here. Happy to follow. I love meen kootaan and I think that the taste comes out best when done in earthern pots.WIll be back for more of your recipes:)

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