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Meen Moilee or Kerala fish curry

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

This is a classic Kerala curry. The combination of spices, lime and herbs with the fish are excellent. I have modified (or modernized) this recipe to include some vegetables. Finally, this curry is also excellent with shrimp.

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2 lbs fish fillets, pomfret, either red snapper, tilapia, or haddock, or a 50:50 mix of fish and shrimp. Pomfret is found in some Indian stores frozen.

Juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon ground fresh ginger

2-6 green chiles, washed and slit in half, or to taste

20 curry leaves

Salt to taste

More lime juice


Cut the fish into bite sized pieces. If adding shrimp, use peeled, but you can leave the tail on if desired. Marinate with lime juice, sesame oil and some salt. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Spice paste:

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

3/4 teaspoon ground white sesame seeds

1 can coconut milk, Chaokoh brand is my favorite.

1.5 teaspoons cashew nuts, ground

1.5 teaspoons ground roasted chickpea flour, called besan in the Indian store.

3/4 teaspoon rice flour

2 onions, ground to a paste or grated.

2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, chopped fine

1-3 teaspoons, or to taste, Chile powder

2 teaspoons ground fresh garlic


Mix all the above ingredients to form a smooth paste.

Heat oil in a pan and add the spice paste and cook on medium till the paste smells aromatic and the oil begins to separate from the paste, about 4-6 minutes or a bit longer. Add the ginger, green chilies, and curry leaves and cook for 3-4 minutes longer, do not burn the paste. Add the coconut milk, turn the heat down to medium and mix well with the fried paste to give a smooth curry. When it begins to simmer, add fish/shrimp and cook for another 10 minutes or more on a very low simmer to cook the fish. You cannot boil the curry, it may split. Gentle and patience are the words to live by here. When the fish is cooked turn off the heat, add salt and taste the curry for spices and adjust. Finish with a sprinkling of lime juice and finely diced fresh cilantro.

Best with rice, but naan, chapatti or Malabar parathas also work well.

To this basic recipe I sometimes add vegetables, alone or in any combination depending on my mood.

Plantains, potatoes, sweet potatoes. Boil in water with a touch of salt till just cooked, but still firm and add after frying the paste.

Beans: Blanche briefly, 2-3 minutes with a splash of water covered in the microwave. It leaves the right bite. Add at the end and mix in.

Spinach: blanch in the microwave (4 minutes) and chop fine. Add at the end.

Cauliflower: Blanche in the microwave, (4 minutes) and add at the end.

Okra: Pan sauté or broil with salt, oil and chile powder till crisp. Add on top right before serving the dish.

Peas, edamame: Add when you add the fish and simmer.

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