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Madras Fish Curry: A South Indian Home-Style Fish Curry (Meen Kuzhmabu)


  • You’re unlikely to listen to the time period Madras fish curry in Chennai.
  • It’s referred to as meen (fish) kuzhambu there.
  • Here’s a recipe of the genuine model of Madras fish curry.

In virtually the identical means that many Mumbaikars nonetheless cannot get themselves to say Mumbai – opting as a substitute for Bombay, many Chennaites nonetheless cling to Madras. They will let you know that Madras is an emotion and Chennai is a metropolis. That’s one purpose why many issues intertwined with the id of the town – particularly amongst international audiences, proceed to retain the Madras prefix. Food is an enormous a part of that id; it is why you continue to discover Madras curry powder on grocery store cabinets in London after which there’s Madras fish curry.

Many international cooks have come to the town in pursuit of this earthy recipe and have accomplished their bit to popularise this iconic dish. Of course, regardless of their greatest intentions there are jarring inconsistencies, like suggesting basmati rice as an accompaniment with this spicy, tangy fish curry. It’s virtually like suggesting Kerala matta rice as an accompaniment for Rajma (as a substitute of basmati rice). It’s not simply international gourmands, I’ve seen premier eating places and cooks throughout India stumble often of their interpretation of Madras fish curry. I’ve needed to hold a straight face and be well mannered when requested about my suggestions.

(Also Read: 10 Local Dishes You Must Try in Chennai)

You’re unlikely to listen to the time period Madras fish curry in Chennai (I can already sense the ‘Madras’ loyalists taking offence). It’s meen (fish) kuzhambu right here and there are few dishes which can be romanticised in well-liked tradition (particularly in Tamil cinema) like this glorious dish that’s really an explosion of flavours. This is a dish that originates in Chennai’s fishing hamlets which were right here lengthy earlier than the British established trendy Madras as we all know it in 1639. 

I’ve had the chance to work together with some house cooks in Chennai whose signature dish is the quintessential Meen kuzhambu. It was great to fulfill one in all these consultants at Sea Salt, a Chennai restaurant that promoted sustainable fishing and put easy, native flavours underneath the highlight. Chef Harish Rao, (who was concerned with this undertaking), has explored a few of Chennai’s fishing communities in his seek for genuine recipes. He additionally believes that the time period Madras fish curry has been loosely used for nearly any fish curry from Tamil Nadu cooked with tamarind and in earthen cooking pots. 

There’s a couple of method to make a Meen kuzhmabu in Chennai. Here’s one genuine model: 

Meen Kuzhambu recipe

 500 gm King fish
1 lime sized ball tamarind

1 tbsp chilli powder
1 half tsp salt
1 tsp lime juice 

Spice Paste:
2 half tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp pepper corns
7  pink chillies
25 gm garlic cloves
25 gm ginger 
100 gm grated coconut

half cup sesame oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
half tsp fennel seeds
four sprigs curry leaves faraway from stalks
100 gm shallots
100 gm pink tomatoes, chopped
half tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp salt or to style
half cup chopped coriander leaves


  • Clean and wash the fish completely with turmeric powder, chop into cubes, Soak the tamarind and extract juice after an hour.
  • Drain the fish cubes, and marinate with chilli powder, salt and lime juice for an hour. 
  • Heat the oil in a kadai, and fry the cumin and coriander seeds, pepper corns and pink chillies. When they alter color add the garlic and ginger and fry for two minutes. Add grated coconut and take away from hearth. Cool and grind right into a easy paste.
  • Heat the oil in a clay pot and mood with mustard and fennel seeds and once they splutter, add the shallots and brown barely. Add the tomatoes and sauté until they’re delicate. Mix in  the spice paste, saute; for two minutes, add the turmeric powder,  tamarind extract and salt, and let the combination simmer for 15 minutes until the masala is effectively blended. Add a cup of water if the gravy is simply too thick. 
  • Add the fish items, and gently simmer for about 7 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
  • Add coriander leaves and take away from warmth, cowl and hold in clay pot until serving time.

(Also Read: Cooking With Bitter Gourd: 3 South Indian Recipes That May Help Boost Your Immunity)

Madras fish curry is spicy and tangy.

Sundavecha Meen Curry

Recipe Courtesy:  Harish Rao – Chef and Culinary advisor 

Chef Harish’s trails in North Chennai helped him unearth this distinctive recipe that he calls a fishing hamlet curry. It’s a preferred recipe in areas like Kasimedu – house to one of many metropolis’s largest fishing harbours, and does not use tamarind. This one’s normally made with Sankara Meen or native pink snapper. It’s commonplace for some locals in these fishing communities to make use of bricks to take away fish scales whereas cleansing the fish. I struggled to search out the English equal for ‘Sundavecha‘ however it refers back to the means of decreasing a gravy by simmering or reheating. It’s why it tastes even higher a day after it is cooked. 

For the paste:
 2 tablespoon sesame oil or (gingelly oil)
shallots 150 grams
half cup contemporary shredded coconut

Other elements:
500 grams Mackerel 
2 tablespoon sesame oil 
1/four teaspoon mustard seeds
1/four teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 sprigs curry leaves
2 onions, sliced
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoon pink chilli powder
Three teaspoon coriander powder
Three tomatoes
1 half teaspoon salt (or to style)


  • Heat sesame oil in a pan and add within the shallots and fry until barely golden.
  • Then add the contemporary shredded coconut and fry on low flame till its golden. Grind to a easy pasting including as much as a cup of water.  Grind the combination to superb paste . Set apart.
  • Heat sesame oil in a pan till scorching. Add within the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Let the mustard seeds splutter. Add within the sliced onions and curry leaves. Sauté until the onions are delicate.
  • Add within the masala powders Turmeric, Chilli powder and Coriander Powder and sauté on low flame.
  • Grind the tomatoes in a small mixer to a paste. Add it to the pan.
  • Fry till the combination is totally dry.
  • Add within the floor shallot-coconut combination. Wash the mixer with half cup of water and add again to the pan. Add in a further cup of water.
  • Let it simmer lined for 20 minutes on low flame.
  • Stir the curry a few times when simmering. After 20 minutes, add within the fish. Cover the pan once more and cook dinner for 7-Eight minutes on low flame. Remove from warmth.
  • Let the curry relaxation for not less than one hour. The fish Curry style higher if its cooked a day earlier than.
  • Serve with rice.

About Ashwin RajagopalanI’ve found cultures, locations and felt at house in a few of the world’s most distant corners due to the varied meals I’ve tried which were ready with ardour. Sometimes they’re conventional recipes and at most instances they have been audacious reinterpretations by inventive cooks. I won’t cook dinner usually however after I do, I think about I’m in a cookery present set – matching measuring bowls, et all!

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