Madras Fish Curry: A South Indian Dwelling-Model Fish Curry (Meen Kuzhmabu)


  • You are unlikely to listen to the time period Madras fish curry in Chennai.
  • It is known as meen (fish) kuzhambu there.
  • Here is a recipe of the genuine model of Madras fish curry.

In nearly the identical means that many Mumbaikars nonetheless cannot get themselves to say Mumbai – opting as an alternative for Bombay, many Chennaites nonetheless cling to Madras. They’ll let you know that Madras is an emotion and Chennai is a metropolis. That is one purpose why many issues intertwined with the id of town – particularly amongst world audiences, proceed to retain the Madras prefix. Meals is a giant 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 world cooks have come to town in pursuit of this earthy recipe and have finished their bit to popularise this iconic dish. After all, regardless of their greatest intentions there are jarring inconsistencies, like suggesting basmati rice as an accompaniment with this spicy, tangy fish curry. It is nearly like suggesting Kerala matta rice as an accompaniment for Rajma (as an alternative of basmati rice). It isn’t simply world gourmands, I’ve seen premier eating places and cooks throughout India stumble sometimes of their interpretation of Madras fish curry. I’ve needed to hold a straight face and be well mannered when requested about my suggestions.

(Additionally Learn: 10 Local Dishes You Must Try in Chennai)

You are unlikely to listen to the time period Madras fish curry in Chennai (I can already sense the ‘Madras’ loyalists taking offence). It is meen (fish) kuzhambu right here and there are few dishes which might be romanticised in fashionable tradition (particularly in Tamil cinema) like this excellent dish that’s really an explosion of flavours. It 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 residence cooks in Chennai whose signature dish is the quintessential Meen kuzhambu. It was great to fulfill one in every of these specialists at Sea Salt, a Chennai restaurant that promoted sustainable fishing and put easy, native flavours below 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 multiple approach to make a Meen kuzhmabu in Chennai. Here is one genuine model: 

Meen Kuzhambu recipe

 500 gm King fish
1 lime sized ball tamarind

1 tbsp chilli powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp lime juice 

Spice Paste:
2 1/2 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

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


  • Clear and wash the fish totally 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. 
  • Warmth the oil in a kadai, and fry the cumin and coriander seeds, pepper corns and pink chillies. After they change color add the garlic and ginger and fry for two minutes. Add grated coconut and take away from fireplace. Cool and grind right into a easy paste.
  • Warmth the oil in a clay pot and mood with mustard and fennel seeds and after they splutter, add the shallots and brown barely. Add the tomatoes and sauté until they’re comfortable. Combine 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 properly blended. Add a cup of water if the gravy is just 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.

(Additionally Learn: 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 marketing consultant 

Chef Harish’s trails in North Chennai helped him unearth this distinctive recipe that he calls a fishing hamlet curry. It is a fashionable recipe in areas like Kasimedu – residence to one of many metropolis’s largest fishing harbours, and does not use tamarind. This one’s often made with Sankara Meen or native red snapper. It is 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‘ but it surely refers back to the means of lowering a gravy by simmering or reheating. It is why it tastes even higher a day after it is cooked. 

For the paste:
 2 tablespoon sesame oil or (gingelly oil)
shallots 150 grams
1/2 cup contemporary shredded coconut

Different substances:
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 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to style)


  • Warmth 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 wonderful paste . Put aside.
  • Warmth 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 comfortable.
  • 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 an extra cup of water.
  • Let it simmer coated for 20 minutes on low flame.
  • Stir the curry a few times when simmering. After 20 minutes, add within the fish. Cowl the pan once more and cook dinner for 7-Eight minutes on low flame. Take away from warmth.
  • Let the curry relaxation for at the very least 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 residence in a number of the world’s most distant corners due to the assorted meals I’ve tried which were ready with ardour. Generally they’re conventional recipes and at most instances they have been audacious reinterpretations by inventive cooks. I won’t cook dinner usually however once I do, I think about I am in a cookery present set – matching measuring bowls, et all!

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