January 17, 2007

Meen Chaar/ Fish Curry w/Coconut

T his is one of the favorite fish curries in my family. Fish curries in Northern Kerala are made with Tamarind, Mango, Gooseberries,Yoghurt, Ilumban Puli etc for sourness. The fish curries from South Kerala are more commonly made with Kodum Puli. I am not very familiar with all the other souring agents, so do let me know. I like both styles as my mother makes one way and my mother in law makes both ways. But I am sure there are traditonalists who don't like the tastes mixed. In that case, you could use just one kind of souring agent.

I have used both Kodum Puli and Tamarind in here, which is my innovation to make a spicy and tangy fish curry out of the frozen bland fishes here.Just one piece of the kodum puli changes the taste, so use it with care. I have to simmer for a while to let the flavors seep in, else the curry and the fish stay seperate. Hence the need for a sturdy fish.

You will need:
Pompano/Pomfret/King Fish or any firm fish steaks- 1 lb or ½ kg( or even prawns)
Onion- ½ of a medium onion
Shallots- 6
Green chilies- 4
Ginger-1/2 inch
Garlic- 2 clove
Turmeric- 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder-2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds-1/8 tsp
Fennel Seeds or powder-1/2 tsp
Coriander powder- 1/8 tsp (optional)
Grated Coconut– 1 cup
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Coconut oil or Canola oil- 2 tbsp
Tamarind extract- 2tsp or as extracted from a lime sized ball.
Kodum Puli-1 piece soaked in water for 15 minutes.
Lime/Lemon Juice-1tbsp
Salt- ½ tsp or to taste

1. Preparing the Fish: Clean and slice the fish. Wash it and toss with lime juice. Pat dry the fish with paper towels and marinate with the half the salt, a pinch of the chili powder and turmeric for at least 15 minutes outside the refrigerator.
2. Grind the ginger and garlic to a paste. Keep aside.
3. Grind the coconut with the aniseed and ½ cup water till it is a very fine paste. If you are using frozen coconut, make sure it is at room temperature before grinding to avoid clumping. Add water only as needed and not all together.
4. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a shallow pan (clay pot or meen chatti) till medium hot and add the fenugreek seeds, onions(not the shallots), sliced green chilies and sauté till the onions become transparent. Then add the ginger garlic paste and the dry spice powders. Add 2tbsp water and let the spices cook on very low heat for about 3 minutes.
5. Then add the tamaring extract or water and the kodum puli and let it simmer. Adjust the sourness and add salt as required. Add 1cup water and when it is boiling, slide the fish pieces gently into the pan and add the ground coconut. If the ground coconut is a thick paste, add 1 cup water to it, else omit additional water. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover and let it cook for about 15 minutes.
6. Heat the remaining coconut oil in a pan and sauté sliced shallots and curry leaves till slightly brown. Pour over the prepared curry.

P.S. On a daily basis, this step can be combined with the initial seasoning ingredients to save time. Just saute the shallots then with the curry leaves and fenugreek.
Kodum puli is a souring agent similar to Kokum but not exactly that. I use both kodumpuli and tamarind in this recipe as I like the slight zing of the kodum puli and the sweetness of the tamarind together. U can omit either of them as per taste.


Papageno said...

I'm in Paris and you make me hungry. I've to try this!

shilpa said...

Wow Shaheen. The fish curry looks really really good. I guess my huusband will love this :). Thanks dear.

Anonymous said...

Hi shaheen,
Thank you very much.I will surely try it out and let you know....

Meeta said...

Shaheen this is great! i love fish and I love coconut. Perfect for a sunday lunch i would say!

indosungod said...

Shaheen What can I say "Simply delicious" Will have to try this soon.

Asha said...

Yummy!! Looks great Shaheen.Never heard of Kadam puli,good to know!:)
Atlast,it's snowing here!:))

Sandeepa said...

Hi Shaheen,
The fish curry looks lovely, straight out of a cookbook. Thanks for this recipe, typical Kerala right ?

RP said...


Looks exactly like the nadan meen curry granma makes. Is that a manchatti?

I have been getting error messages when i visit your blog, both in IE & FF. Not always though. Something like domain mismatch.... I guess it is with some of the third pary scripts you use.

Sumitha said...

Rice and fish curry...what else does a Keralaite need!

Maheswari said...

Another authentic fish curry.Thanks shaheen.I feel like having it now...Delicious.

On another note, Do you anything about cooking with goat intestine.We used to cook it with coconut gravy.Just wanted to know whether its available here in US.

Chandrika said...

Shaheen, the fish curry looks delicious...I have missed all the action at your blog lately..The pinwheels look terrific and thanks again for the potato parantha...Till now all my parantha attempts have failed..But with your recipes, I have hope again! :-)

Gattina said...

I know if I can't finish the whole bowl, at least will finish up that gravy! Sinfully delicious!
But I almost have no heart to buy fish in my area, way toooooo high! Will wait for sale on big prawns and try this recipe out. Thanks a lot Shaheen, and very attractive photo!

jacob said...

that looks so great. I'venever made fish curry this way with coconut milk, but will try one of these days.

sailaja said...

That's a great looking authentic fish curry, Shaheen. Awesome picture too!

Mallugirl said...

Papageno, go ahead and have some.:)

Shilpa, I think u will like it, do try.

Meeta, U could tone down the spice for ur family, if u wish.U are right, it was a sunday lunch.

Indo,Thanks...I know u will try this with salmon!

Asha, Oh, its snowing here too!DO u eat fish?

Sadeepa, well this is typical keral but not quite. I am not sure both the tamarinds are added in typical kerala.

Thanks Rp, i will check on the site. Blogrolling is not very bug free. Yep, that is one of my numerous meen chatti.

Sumitha, u are right, it is the essential kerala meal.

Maheshwari, I know what u mean, we also used ot make goat intestines(kodalu curry). Haven't had the confidence to make it here. Try a halal shop in ur area.

Chandrika, I know u are busy, I too go days without checking online. But good to hear from u.

GAttina, I forgot to add the note, this curry would be great with prawns too.

jacob, sailaja, Thanks and do let me know when u try it.

Revathi said...

One more fish curry. I am not going to see ur site when I am having lunch.. Especially if my lunch is very drab :(

Anonymous said...

mmmm.... i didn't know fennel seeds/powder was added to fish curry too...
so u took a 'chatti' with u to US? or got something localy, which is similar.

Just for fun said...

I love your fish curry.
Looks yummy. thanks shaheen

Courtney said...

Fab food blog!

We at the NC quoted a spicy blurb of this in our Wise Words sideblog.

Keep at it, Jersey girl.

Mallugirl said...

Revathi, cmon 0ver and we can share the fish with ur muringya ela.

Ki, every time I come from Calicut, i bring 2-3 chattis. only a couple make it without cracking.I guess fennel is a nadan addition.

Just for fun, thanks and do try.

Courtney, thanks and i am happy and honoured to be on ur blurb.

Anonymous said...

Assalamu alaikum,

After my success with your alu paratha and Beef gyro, I am poring through all your recipes! : )

And I am pleased to let you know of another wonderful success. Of meen chaar! My fish curries are failures. I am very poor at cooking fish dishes and had totally given up on naadan curries. The pic of your curry tempted me though and I went ahead with it! I am for the first time making a fish curry with so lil onions, shallots and no tomatoes and I must say it was delicious! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, this is going to be my daily now. My sisters and I love calicut food. We know the women in calicut are great cooks but did not expect such a wonderful blog from one of them. Ok, I have spoken enough.

Thanks a lot again.

Umm Maryam

Mallugirl said...

Umm Maryam, thanks for taking time to leave me such a sweet note. Everytime i hear success story, i feel there is a purpose in my blog, so it means a lot. do try other recipes too and u can send me ur family's favourite recipes too.

Anonymous said...

Hi Shaheen,

I made the fish curry today,it is so yummy...I told you I will defenitely make it......it is more than delicious..it is yummylicious....ur husband is one lucky man my dear.....



Anonymous said...

BTW i have 2 chattees here.....one for sambar and another one for fish...luckily it has reached here without breaking.....hey do u know how to make fish in banana leaf?


Ayesha Seerin said...

Wow ur fish curry looks great ..
I got some kudaMpuli n am totally lost as to how it shud be used...
Should i add the puli itself or the water in which it is soaked...

Anonymous said...

hi Shaheen

I have a doubt.shld i had jeerakam(fennel) or perumjeerakam(aniseeds)?

Mallugirl said...

anon, jeerakam is cumin seeds.. u have to add fennel seeds..saunf in hindi..and aniseed is not the same as fennel.

Anonymous said...

I come from Vadakara (close to Tellicherry) and the fish from our region has a marked difference from Shaheen's recipe. My makes the best Meen Chaar I have ever tasted anywhere in the world. Her recipe is simple, it is a perfect amalgamation of water, curry leaves, green chillies, chopped ginger, raw mangoes, tomotoes and fish of any kind. It is quite an amazing creation and the next best thing I have tasted apart from my mom's chaar is from Karavalli at the Taj Gateway, Bangalore. The Allepey Fish Curry is to die for.

Anonymous said...

Everything of the recipe is good except the 4 green chilies and 2 tsp of red chili wow that's too hot/spicy a recipe to get stomach ulcer

Reshmi said...

Shaheen you are such a blessing for me.Love your blog.Its like God send for me.lovbe the meen charu.

Mallugirl said...

reshmi, u are totally welcome.

MYRA said...

Hello Shaheen
I have just discovered your Blog!and wow! your recipes seem to be so authentic,can not wait to try some out. Thank you for sharing x
i am english and have been living in France for over 20 years i miss true indien food sooooooooo much,
vite vite au fourneau x

Shaheen said...

My meen chaars are usually a disaster. But I still keep trying! And then I found your recipe.And SUCCESS!!! Thanx so much!

Thats Just Me said...

this looks awesome... trying it out this weekend.small confusion.
aniseed and fennel seed turns out as a generic "saunf" in translation. can i use the saunf for both.
caraway, fennel, aniseed, cummin.. ellam koode motham confusion. :(