Keralan fish curry

This is a wonderful, simple fish dish, with chunks of fish cooked in a coconut milk masala. This Keralan fish curry, meen molee, is typical of dishes from that region, with the heat of the chilli countered by the coconut milk. Further, this very quick cooking is typical, too.

We use cod or kingfish, but any firm white fish will work. Make sure you get the fish boned and choose fish that can be cut into large cubes. The dish needs to be cooked quickly, without too much stirring as you do not want to break up the fish.

It is important to allow the mustard oil to cool after smoking out the impurities. It will be too hot for the spices which will burn if you put them in immediately.

It tastes at its best straight from the stove. Make sure you do not over-cook the fish.

We usually serve this with plain basmati rice.

the recipe

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  • 800 g cod - cut into 5cm cubes

for the masala

to serve


  • Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or karahi over medium heat, until the impurities smoke off and the oil becomes colourless. Remove from the heat and allow the oil to cool before the next step to prevent the spices from burning.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low, replace the pan on the heat, then add the turmeric and chilli powder and cook for one minute.
  • Add the onions and sprinkle with salt. Cook for ten minutes or until the onions have softened.
  • Add the ginger and chillies, mix well, and cook for a further two minutes.
  • Add the curry and fenugreek leaves. Mix well.
  • Increase the heat to medium and add the fish. Fry for five minutes, gently tossing to completely cover with the spices.
  • Stir in the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Cook for five minutes, or until fish is starting to flake and the coconut milk has reduced to a creamy consistency. Add water if needed to maintain this consistency.

to serve

  • Gently stir in the jaggery and coriander.
  • Remove from heat, sprinkle with garam masala and serve.


  • Ling, kingfish or Spanish mackerel or any other firm white fish could be used instead of cod.

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Serving: 250 g | Calories: 399 kcal | Carbohydrates: 10 g | Protein: 38 g | Fat: 23 g | Saturated Fat: 11 g | Cholesterol: 86 mg | Sodium: 723 mg | Potassium: 1144 mg | Fiber: 2 g | Sugar: 4 g | Vitamin A: 765 IU | Vitamin C: 68 mg | Calcium: 61 mg | Iron: 3 mg

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