Meen Kulambu: South Indian Fish Curry

South Indian fish curry
The Spruce
Prep: 3 hrs 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 3 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
770 Calories
43g Fat
103g Carbs
9g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 770
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 43g 55%
Saturated Fat 37g 184%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 151333mg 6,580%
Total Carbohydrate 103g 38%
Dietary Fiber 14g 51%
Protein 9g
Calcium 220mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

South Indian cuisine includes the recipes of the five southern states of India: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana. This South Indian fish curry recipe, also called meen kulambu, is a delicately flavored dish infused with tangy tamarind that can be served with idli (a savory cake) or dosa (a type of fermented batter pancake) as well as steamed basmati rice or Indian flatbread.


Click Play to See This South Indian Fish Curry Recipe Come Together


  • 16 ounces firm, white-fleshed fish (like cod or halibut) cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 1 golf ball-sized piece of tamarind pulp (soaked in 2 cups hot water)
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 small coconut grated
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 8 to 10 curry leaves
  • 1 green chili pepper
  • 2 medium onions, ground into a paste
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for south indian fish curry
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  2. Use a mortar and pestle to pound the dry red chilies into a coarse paste using a teaspoon of water.

    Grinding chilis with mortar and pestle.
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  3. Squeeze the soaked tamarind well to release all the pulp from it. Strain the thick tamarind juice and discard the pith and seeds.

    Tamarind juice.
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  4. Mix the red chili paste and tamarind juice with the ground coriander and turmeric and add salt to taste. Then add the grated coconut and half the coconut milk. Mix well.

    Mixed seasonings for fish curry.
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  5. Place the pieces of fish in a large, flat dish and pour the mixture over it to cover. Make sure all the pieces are coated, and marinate for 3 hours.

    Marinating fish for fish curry.
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  6. Heat the cooking oil in a deep pan over a medium flame until hot. Add the curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, green chili. Fry for roughly 2 minutes, or until the oil stops splattering.

    Frying curry leaves.
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  7. Now add half the onion paste. Fry until the onion begins to brown very slightly.

    Brown the onion paste in oil.
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  8. Add the chopped tomato.

    Adding tomato to a curry base.
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  9. Fry till the spices start to release their oil and tomato turns darker. Stir frequently while frying.

    Cooking tomatoes and onions down for curry.
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  10. Now add the fish marinade and stir.

    Fish marinade added to curry vegetables.
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  11. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the garlic paste, pepper, cumin, remaining onion paste, and remaining coconut milk.

    Bring fish curry to a boil.
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  12. Lower to a simmer and cook until oil begins to appear on top of the gravy.

    Simmering fish curry.
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  13. Add the pieces of fish and simmer until cooked through. If stirring, do so very gently to avoid breaking the pieces of fish.

    Fish added to the curry.
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  14. Turn off heat.

    South Indian fish curry.
     The Spruce
  15. Serve curry on top of hot steamed basmati rice and enjoy!