top of page

Kerala red fish curry (Meen vevichathu)

Kerala's long coastline allows the cuisine to have a vibrant seafood menu. There are a number of classic fish curries, Moilee, Mulakittathu, Kakkathilakiyathu, and others, but the Red fish curry is one that is supreme.

Kudampuli, also called as Malabar tamarind is a fruit of the Garcinia Cambogia family. The fruit is dried and is dark purple in colour, almost black. the fruit gives a distinct tart flavour to the curry from high levels of hydroxycitric acid. As a note, a lot of vendors mistake this for the Goan kokum that also belongs to the garcinia family but is a different species.

This dish is a flash of lovely flavours. The curry is both spicy and tart from the kudampuli. The flash of red colour brightens up your table, and plate. This is curry that I make for those special occasions. I serve it with Kappa, a very traditional side dish, that is used to soak up the curry.

In Tia’s book, you explore Kerala’s food through the memories of the women in her family, especially her Amama (grandmother), Ammu George. The book begins with Ammu George who runs her home ‘with military precision.’ It reminded me of my paternal grandmother who measured ingredients for the day’s cooking down to the last chilli to get the flavours she wanted. The stories will be familiar to some: cooking with vegetables from the garden, feeding large hordes of children with ravenous appetites, preserving produce in the days without refrigeration, and more. This book continues to addition women in Kerala and highlights thier world and menus. The recipes are classics, or variations of the classics, each a masterpiece that graces your table with perfect flavours. This book is so much more than a collection of recipes, but a story of the women behind them and the life in Kerala.

For more recipes from the fabulous cookbook, click here.


For the fish:

2 lb fish fillets or curry cut slices of pearl spot, white or black pomfret, or red snapper

1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder

1 teaspoon chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon pepper

Salt, to taste

4 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons coconut oil

For the curry:

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

15 curry leaves

12-14 shallots, finely sliced

1 tablespoon ginger paste

8-10 garlic cloves, minced

2 green chillies, diced, or to taste

1 1/2 tablespoon Kashmiri chilli powder

2 teaspoon chilli powder, or to taste

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoons ground coriander seeds

2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds

1 teaspoon pepper

2-3 pieces kudampuli or Malabar tamarind

6 tomatoes, purèed

Salt, to taste

6-7 cups water

Mix all the spices for the fish in a small bowl to make a slurry. Using your fingers spread the mix onto the fish working the spices into the meat. Allo t marinate in the fridge for 3-4 hours but overnight is also great.

Heat the oil in a pot. add the mustard seeds and fry till they pop about 20 seconds. Add the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves and fry for another 10 seconds.

Add the shallots and fry till they are lightly golden about 2 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and green chillies and fry for 1 minute till the ginger no longer smells raw.

Take the pot off the stove and add the spices, Kashmiri chilli powder, chilli powder, turmeric, ground coriander seeds, ground cumin seeds, and pepper toss well. Add the tomato purèe and mix in well. Add the kudampuli and salt. Add back to the stove and cook for 10 minutes till the tomatoes are reduced and you have a thick sauce. The oils should have separated and should be floating on top in small bubbles.

Add the water and mix in. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste for sourness, if you like the sourness, remove the kudampuli, if not, let it cook for an additional 5 minutes and taste again.

NOTE: Leaving the kudampuli in the curry will allow it to add more sourness and some of the typical bitterness that is also associated with the fruit. be careful how long you leave the kudampuli in the curry,

After removing the kudampuli cook for another 10 minutes on a gentle simmer. taste for salt, spice and tanginess. The curry should have the consistency of light cream with a light layer of oil floating on top. Set aside till needed.

Heat the oven on broil mode or use a grill.

Layer the fish on a lined baking sheet and broil at the mid-point of the oven for 5-6 minutes till the fish is just cooked through. have this ready when you are ready to serve.

To serve: Heat the red curry to a boil. Add a dollop of kappa onto the centre of a wide bowl. Add a ladle of the red curry around the kappa. Top with a piece of fish. Serve immediately.

142 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr Social Icon
  • Instagram
  • Blogger
bottom of page