Kerala Red Fish Curry (Meenu Mulakittathu)

Red Fish curryFish curry is as essential to a Malayalee as water is to fish 🙂  I have already posted the typical Kerala fish curry that is cooked most often in our home. That curry uses coconut milk and kodampuli (a variety of kokum that is indigenous to Kerala).  The version I am posting today is the version without coconut milk. This type of curry is unique to the North of Kerala and is usually made very hot and spicy.  This curry is used commonly for fish like King Mackerel(Nayee Meenu) or shark fish(Sraav).

kerala style fish curry without coconutMy dad and a lot of the folks of the older generation would devour this curry by making balls of the cooked rice and dipping them in the sauce! Of late I have been making this version for myself since I am on a low fat diet and need to avoid coconut milk.  And considering my current limitations in the kitchen, I have really simplified this recipe – so I apologize in advance if this is not an exact authentic recipe. This is my version of the traditional ‘Meenu Mulakittathu or ‘Fish cooked with red chillies’ Either way, folks, this curry is hot and spicy and pure ‘dynamite’ and is sure to stir things up for you:) Since this curry is really ‘red’ without the coconut milk to tame the color and the spice down, I named it the ‘Red Fish curry’ 🙂

Kerala Red Fish Curry without coconut milk(Meenu Mulakittathu)

  • Servings: Serves 4-6 with rice
  • Time: about 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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  • 8-10 pieces of fish – King Mackerel(Surma) or Shark (Sraav)or any other similar fish

For ground masala paste

  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi or ‘uluva’)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp of black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder (add more for extra hot)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water (for grinding masala) plus 1 cup water
  • 2 -3 pieces of kodapuli soaked in 1/2 cup water (or you can use tamarind extract 1 tbsp )
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 pearl onions or 1/4 of a small red onion, chopped fine
  • 4-5 fresh curry leaves


In a cooking pot (preferably an earthen pot), add the cleaned pieces of fish.

Grind the ingredients under ‘Masala paste’ in a food processor using 1/2 cup water to get thick paste. Add this to the pot with the fish. Add additional 1 cup water to the pot. Add the salt and the kodapuli pieces (or the tamarind pulp) and place pot on heat.  when the curry begins to boil, turn heat to low and cover cooked on low flame for about 15-20 minutes swirling the pan occasionally to prevent fish from sticking to the pot.

Now open lid and simmer on low for another 5 minutes or so until you get sauce/curry of desired consistency. Turn heat off.

In a separate small heating or tadka pan, heat the coconut oil. Add the chopped onion and saute till golden brown. Add fresh curry leaves. Turn heat off. Pour this oil mixture over the fish in the pot.  Serve fish curry with cooked white rice.

Meenu mulakkitathu


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