It is no secret that Indian curries are famous all over the world, and this coconut based fish curry explains exactly why. South Indian Fish Curry is a delicious and flavorful dish that is popular in South Indian cuisine. In southern India, fish curry is commonly called meen kulambu or kuzhambu, and it is one of the staple fish recipes in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. Made with a blend of Indian spices, including coriander powder, turmeric powder, and red chili powder, this curry is the perfect way to enjoy fresh fish.
Freshwater fish is the most common option for this kind of recipe, but you can also use flaky white fish or any kind of fish pieces available in your Indian market or local grocery store. The key ingredient in this dish is coconut milk, which adds a rich and creamy texture to the sauce. Curry leaves and a splash of lime or lemon juice also contribute to the distinct taste of this dish. You can make this in a large frying pan or Instant Pot at medium-high heat. You can pair this dish with steamed rice or brown rice and garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs. This recipe is a great example of the versatile and delicious cuisine of the southern region of India, and you can get easy access to its ingredients in Indian grocery stores.
This dish finds its roots in the state of Kerala, where fish is a staple food. The history of using fish in curries, along with key ingredients like coconut milk, curry leaves, and tamarind, dates back to ancient times. You can also trace the use of Indian spices such as coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin seeds, garam masala, fenugreek powder, etc., back many centuries. Over time, the dish has evolved and adapted to different regions, cultures, and ingredients. South Indian Fish Curry is a dish that is rich in history and tradition, and it reflects the diverse and flavorful cuisine of southern India. You can enjoy this dish in many variations, with different ingredients and preparation methods.
Ingredients List For South Indian Fish Curry
The fish provides the main protein of the dish. The type of fish used can also affect the flavor and texture of the dish.
Onions, green chillies, garlic, and ginger
These ingredients make the masala paste, which forms the vegetable base of the curry. They contribute to the overall flavor and aroma of the dish.
This is another key ingredient in this recipe. Tamarind extract gives the curry a tangy, sour taste. If you cannot find fresh tamarind or dry tamarind to make tamarind water, you can use tamarind paste.
Vegetable oil or coconut oil
You need oil to sauté the masala paste and other ingredients. It contributes to the depth of flavor and texture of the dish.
Fenugreek seeds also called, methi seeds, are added to the oil to give the dish a nutty, slightly bitter flavor.
Couple the tomato purée with the tamarind extract for thickness and a slight sweetness.
Add coconut milk to the curry for a creamy texture and a subtle coconut flavor.
Turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder
Add this spice mix to the curry for flavor and to give the dish a warm, spicy taste. You can reduce the amount of red chillies or leave them out entirely for a milder curry. You can also add some cayenne pepper for a smoky flavor. Coriander powder also adds a unique touch and aroma to the curry, you can replace it with fresh coriander too.
A little salt adds to the taste to balance the flavors of the dish. Use good quality salt and add a little at a time until the flavor pops!
Mustard seeds and Curry leaves
These tarka ingredients liberate their essential oils giving this dish its unique South Indian flavor.
Step By Step Instructions:
Place a lemon-sized ball of tamarind in a bowl and add ½ cup of warm water. Let it soak for 10 minutes.
Mash the tamarind well into the water to make tamarind extract and set it aside.
In a mixing jar or food processor, add all the masala paste ingredients (onion, green chilies, garlic, ginger) with some water and blend it until it turns into a smooth paste.
In a pan, heat 3 tbsp oil and add ½ tsp fenugreek seeds.
Then add the masala paste and cook for a minute until it is fragrant.
Add 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp red chili powder, and ½ tsp coriander powder. Cook until fragrant.
Now add 1 cup of tomato puree and cook until the oil separates.
Then add the tamarind extract and cook for a minute until it bubbles.
Now add coconut milk to the pan.
Cook it until the coconut milk comes to a boil.
Then add the fish fillets and let them boil again.
You can also add a splash of water to adjust it to a thinner consistency or you can add coconut cream for a thicker consistency.
Then cover the pan and cook on low heat until the fish is tender.
For tarka, heat 1-2 tbsp oil in a sauté pan and add ½ tsp black mustard seeds and a few curry leaves. Fry until it until it is fragrant.
Then pour the Tarka on the prepared fish curry.
Serve with rice and enjoy!
Serve the South Indian Fish Curry over steamed white rice and garnish with fresh cilantro. Accompany the dish with a side of naan or paratha bread to scoop up the flavorful sauce. For an added touch of heat, top the curry with sliced green chilies. Enjoy!
To store South Indian Fish Curry, allow the curry to cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. Make sure to remove as much air as possible from the container to prevent the formation of bacteria. Label the container with the name of the dish and the date, and place it in the refrigerator. The curry will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. To reheat, transfer the desired amount to a saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until hot. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about South Indian Fish Curry
Some key ingredients include coconut milk, tamarind extract, mustard seeds, red chili powder, turmeric powder, and curry leaves.
In South India, tamarind and tomatoes are commonly used as sour flavors. Lime juice or lemon pieces can also be added to the curry to give it a sour taste. Indian lime pickle or mango pickle can also be used as a key flavoring ingredient.
Gingelly oil or sesame oil is the best tasting oil to use when making South Indian Fish Curry. Coconut oil can also be used.
The fish curry is often served with Indian meals, such as curd rice or chapati.
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I am a husband, father of 4, board certified neurosurgeon, and a lover of South Indian Food!
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