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Kerala Meen Curry Recipe / Indian Fish Curry Recipe

Kerala Meen Curry Recipe / Indian Fish Curry Recipe

Nadan Meen Curry / Keralite`s favorite Meen Curry!! Yes, the ultimate fish dish for the Malayalees. Wow, there are no words to describe how we indulge into this ever drooling side dish for rice. We can describe it as, the fish curry we get to see in almost all Christian weddings and other related get togethers of Kerala, the Fish Curry our fore fathers passd on to generations and generations, the fish curry we get to see in almost all kerala families almost every day, the fish curry every Keralite would crave for, finds its place on our dining table with it’s shining red colour that attracts us and make us eat little more rice.. Hey, weight watchers; pls. be careful at this point!! 

Here we want to tell you the immense importance of posting this recipe at least today. This Kerala Style Nadan Fish Curry has been one of the sought after non veg dishes of our blog since the day it started!! I kept on postponing to post this recipe for some or the other reasons.. May be this is the right time God has planned to do the same.. 

My hubby is so crazy about this Kerala Fish Curry. One of his favourite dishes on any Kerala restaurant menu is this Red Fish Curry. He always says about ‘The Fish Curry and Rice’ he used to have at the `Koshy’s restaurant´ in St. Mark’s Road, Bangalore, whenever he goes to Bangalore. He would consider even a special trip to Bangalore just to have a plate of it!!  What he says, it is just Fish Curry, Rice and Pappad, but a complete meal!!  He had it twice on his latest official trip there this August 2016!! 


Everybody may have their own stories to tell about it, right? This curry refreshed my taste memories too.. I can connect it to my mom’s tharavadu veedu / ancestral home ‘Mankavil’ in Kattanam, Alleppey district of Kerala, India. I visited there with my family in my childhood many times though we were living outside Kerala at that time. During one such visits, yes, it was for my aunt’s wedding, I saw many workers working in the backyard of the house under the temporary tents made for a week or so, which was meant for making the marriage lunch menu. I heard one of the maids saying to my ammachi / grand mom, “meen curry kalamayi” / Fish curry is ready. I peeped into the kitchen where it was arranged. Poor Fish Curry, it was taking enough rest there without the knowledge that people would be going to swallow it and lip their fingers fully without leaving anything.. When I saw the reddish colour meen curry, I started wondering how people are going to have this, as it looks so spicy!! Honestly, I was not certain of its spiciness, but was having a vague idea that all red curries would be so spicy 

I seriously put one more query to my grand mom, ‘Ammachi, ee curry ippozhe enthina vekkunnathu? Kalyanam ini orazhcha kazhinjittallae ulloo, ithu azhukkayi pokillae”? Transalation goes like this. “Why we are making this now, one week in advance of the marriage? It won’t get spoil?” She became so curious to respond to all my querries.. Then she gave me a rough idea about this peculiar fish curry on that day itself and the reason of  making it in advance. Remember, it happened years back!! One thing that got stuck up into my mind at that age was its taste and its very appealing red and spicy look, though it depends on us to decide how much spicy the curry should be.

I must accentuate here one point, it is always the taste memories and the people behind that particular dish make it tastier. It gives uniqueness of its own. My amamchi / grand mom is no more, but we have inherited her method and its ingredients from her..  It is its awesome flavour that remains on our taste buds that completes a wholesome royal lunch and dinner.. 

Meen Vevichathu is usually made in earthen wares; say black or reddish orange earthen wares. Malayalees cannot deny the fact that whatever we cook in earthen wares taste incredible. Hey, of course that’s the another reason of its tastiness, right? Yes. 

As I said earlier, one peculiarity of this dish is, one makes this fish curry in advance and keep in the room temperature itself for a couple of days, so that the fish pieces that are soaked in the red sauce absorb its spiciness. The gravy will get absorbed totally to the fish pieces. Since I needed gravy, I didn’t cook it for long more than what it requires. Another peculiarity is the special tamarind known as Cocum / kokum that we use in this curry. Cocum is having so many health benefits. Traditionally, people from the central travancore, especially Christans only use to add this cocum in fish curries. The rest of the Keralites use the regular and common tamarind in fish curries and we use it only for making veg curries.. 

Suddenly a song comes to my mind. It is an old Malayalam movie song.. The first stanza goes like this.. 

Ayala varuthathundu,
Karimeen porichathundu,
Kudampuli ittu vecha nalla chemmeen curry undu.. 
Thumbapoo nirmulloru cherumani chorundu,
Uppilitta mangayundu
Unnan vaa machunanae.. 

So, here the kudampuli / cocum dominates the rest of the ingredients we used in this curry. 

This Fish curry is a favourite of my husband and he becomes a happy soul whenever he gets this nadan meen curry. Another good combo which goes well with this fish curry is Kerala Sambar. Both are Reji’s favourite ones..

Finally when I did this, I was totally amazed and pleased with the outcome, with its perfectly balanced flavours and colour. We devoured it every bit. Whenever I make this fish curry everyone at home would love it.

Here is how I made this dish based with my grandma’s traditional recipe handed down to me by my mom.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients for Nadan Meen Curry:

Fish – ½ kg (I have used Seer fish)
Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp.
Shallots finely chopped – 2
Fenugreek Seeds – ½ tsp.
Shallots whole – 6 – 8
Green Chilli – 1 small (optional)
Homemade Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 ½ tbsp.
Kashmiri Chilli Powder – 2 ½ tbsp.
Coriander Powder – 1 ½ tbsp.
Turmeric Powder – ½ tsp.
Kokum / Kudampuli / Tamarind – 3 small pieces
Curry Leaves – 2 sprigs
Salt – to taste
Coconut Oil – 2 tbsp.
Hot Water – 1 ½ cups

How to make Kerala Red Fish Curry:

Soak the Kokum / Kudampuli / Malabar Tamarind in one cup warm water and keep it aside. Clean the fish pieces and cut into curry sized shapes. Keep it aside. Take Chilli Powder, Coriander Powder and Turmeric Powder in a small bowl. Pour 1 tbsp. coconut oil and 3 tbsp. of warm water, Mix it well to form a paste and keep it aside.

Heat oil in an earthern pot / manchatti. Add Mustard Seeds. Once it finishes spluttering, add the sliced shallots. After some time add the whole shallots and then fenugreek seeds . Sauté it on medium heat.  Once the fenugreek seeds and shallots turn golden brown in colour, add curry leaves. Next add Green Chilli followed by Ginger Garlic Paste. Sauté it for few seconds until the raw smell goes. Now add the prepared masala to this and sauté it by stirring it frequently until oil starts to separate. It will take 3 to 4 minutes.

Add in the soaked kokum / Kudampuli along with the water you soaked it, salt and the additional warm water to this. Let it come to a boil. Once it is boiled, add the fish pieces to this. Swirl the pan and bring it to boil on low medium heat. Cover and cook until the fish is done. Remove the lid and cook until the gravy turns thick. It might take 10 to 15 minutes, depends on the consistency of the gravy you like. Add 1 tbsp. coconut oil and swirl the pan. (I didn’t add this as I have added enough oil before while mixing spices and also for cooking.)

Your Kerala Style Fish curry is now ready to be served with Rice. It goes well with Kappa Vevichathu, Kerala Palappam or Appam, Vellayappam or Kallappam, Idiyappam etc.

My Recipe Notes on Meen Vevichathu:

> Wash the fish in lemon juice / vinegar and salt mixture to get rid of fishy smell.

> Earthen wares absorb heat so fast, so be careful to keep heat on medium while sautéing, otherwise there is high chance of it getting burnt.

> I used to soak cocum / kudampuli for 2 or 3 hours before making this dish. Soaking cocum in warm water is must as it loosens up the dried flesh of cocum and so it releases its sour taste. Those who do not use kudampuli can use the other ordinary tamarind and follow the rest of the ingredients and method. After you made the curry and if you find that tartness is enough, just remove cocum from your curry and discard it.

> It is better to fry fenugreek seeds after adding shallots, as it will get burned faster. Fry these shallots on medium heat until it gets translucent.

> Adjust the chilli powder according to your tolerance level. Adding Kashmiri chilli powder gives a good red colour to the dish. If you are using ordinary chilli powder, reduce the quantity as it is very hot.

> Adding green chilli while sautéing is optional, but I prefer it as it gives an appealing taste.

> Do not use spoon / spatula to mix the curry which breaks the fish pieces, instead, swirl the pan to ensure that the fish and the masala are mixed well.

> You can grind spices like coriander powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder, ginger, garlic and shallots and add this to the oil for sautéing.

> You can add 1 tsp. Black Pepper Powder also, but in that case reduce the quantity of chilli powder.

> If you want more gravy, add ½ cup more of water.

> You can refrigerate the dish for a couple of days and re heat it before serving.

> This Nadan Meen curry tastes better the next day and the following 3 to 4 days as it takes time for the fish pieces to absorb the spices.

Pictorial / Stagewise Pictures of Kerala Fish Curry

Gather all ingredients.. 









Serve this delicious Nadan Meen Curry to your family with Steaming rice.. 

Happy Cooking



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Thank you for taking time to visit my blog . Each of your comments are really valuable for me which motivates me to post more and more. I appreciate your valuable comments and suggestions. Hope you liked my space and please keep visiting for new recipes. Please do not leave comments with links to your blogs , events and advertisements.

  • Kyanna (2017-01-03 22:55:34)
    Wow, I really appreciate you for this super looking and delicious Kerala Meen curry. Thanks a lot Seena for this recipe.
    Seena Koshy (2017-01-21 23:01:35)
    Thanks a lot Kyanna. Hugs..
  • Ria Samuel (2016-12-13 19:28:42)
    No household in my part of Kerala would do without this quintessential fish curry. It really is so satisfying!
    Seena Koshy (2017-01-23 15:20:51)
    That is very true Ria.. I heard that it is an everyday side dish for the people who live in the central Travancore.. I hope you too are from one of those districts of Kerala.. Appreciate your words.. :)
  • beena (2016-12-10 17:02:21)
    Adipoli meen curry dear 😧
    Seena Koshy (2016-12-10 17:04:58)
    Thanks a lot Beena.. :)
  • Diana (2016-12-10 16:02:42)
    Wow, Seena, your fish curry looks so yummy! I use to make it, but I never get this red colour! Pls. advise.
    Seena Koshy (2016-12-10 16:30:30)
    Thanks a lot Diana for peeping in here. Use Kashmiri chilli powder of good quality to make it and not the ordinary chilli powder which is very hot too. :)
  • Anita (2016-12-10 15:22:29)
    Adipoli. Looks so delicious--finger licking.
    Seena Koshy (2016-12-10 15:36:45)
    Thanks a lot Anita.. You are welcome.. :)
  • Renuka (2016-12-10 14:53:29)
    Wow. Thanks. Have been waiting for this one from you for long.
    Seena Koshy (2017-01-21 18:26:56)
    oh really?! I hope you are happy now Renuka.. Thanks a bunch..
  • Renuka (2016-12-10 14:53:28)
    Wow. Thanks. Have been waiting for this one from you for long.
    Seena Koshy (2016-12-10 15:35:41)
    Thanks dear Renuka.. You are awesome.. Love.. :)

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About Me

Hi there, I am Seena Koshy, a teacher by profession, a triple Master’s Degree Holder by qualification, a Food Blogger, a passionate Food Photographer, whose ultimate pleasure lies in cooking. My passion for food is portrayed in my recipes which are tested in my kitchen and tasted by my family. I love to spend quality time in experimenting and cooking. Thank you for stopping by our food blog, where you can find well-crafted recipes.

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