Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kerala Fish Curry ( Mulaku Curry)

Kerala's Red Fish Curry or the Mulaku Charu is hot and spicy fish curry. Its rich color is from Kashmiri chilly powder which is less spicy when compared to regular chilly powder.

Fish curry and rice or fish curry and kappa pukku is the absolute comfort food for every malayali. The state is blessed  with long coast line, backwaters and lake and Keralites are great fish eaters. Red fish curry tastes awesome and you can find this type of fish curry everywhere-in  homes, restaurants,toddy shops or boat houses for tourists. Even though this curry is staple for the malayalis, you will still find a lot of regional variation to this recipe. Each region and each home has its own adaption of fish curry.

The tamarind used in this recipe is Kudampuli/ Gambooge/Malabar tamarind. You can find this in abundance in Central and North Kerala. This souring agent has lots of medicinal value and helps aid digestion.
Malayalis love adding coconut to every dish, but this curry is an exception. But it is seasoned with coconut oil. The curry can be kept in room temperature for up to three days. I still remember my grand mother buying fish in bulk in late evenings and making fish mulaku.It is cooked overnight and served the next day and is said to taste better... well if you have patience to wait  :). I think this is a common practice in many homes in olden times when refrigerators were not common.You can try any meaty fish to make this curry. Try this,you will surely love it.

Fish - 1 lb
Shallots diced- 1/2 cup
Ginger-cut into thin strips- 3 tsp
Garlic cut into thin strips- 3 tsp
Chilly powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Kudampuli- 5-6 thin strips
Green chilly - 2
Curry leaves
Mustard- 1/3 tsp
Fenugreek- 1/2 tsp
Oil- 3 tsp
Salt to taste
 Kudampuli (Gambooge)

Cut and clean the fish and keep aside. Wash and soak kudam puli in water.
Make a paste of chilly powder and turmeric and keep it aside.

In a pan ( in kerala we use manchatti or earthen cooking vessels) heat oil. Add mustard followed by fenugreek seeds and them allow to splutter. Add in the diced garlic, ginger, green chillies and curry leaves. Roast it in a slow flame till the nice aroma comes out of the ginger and garlic. Add shallots and saute till golden brown.
Add the paste , mix well and fry again . This is very important part of the cooking. The paste should be roasted in low flame till the oil separates. It is this which brings in the rich red color to the curry.

Add salt,kudampuli and hot water and allow it to boil. Add fish pieces and cook it in a medium flame for three minutes and then in a low flame. It is said that it is best to cook the fish without the lid on in low flame as it will add to its rich color and taste. Don't forget to rotate the pan occasionally and do not stir using a spoon. Cook for 8-10 minutes in low flame. Finally add some curry leaves, a pinch of fenugreek powder and drizzle coconut oil on top.

Try this one..

Hope you will enjoy!


  1. Spicy and yumm fish curry..How I wish I had a manchatti here..
    Thanks for visiting us at Collaborative have a lovely space here :-)

  2. Hi suja, thanks for dropping by and too have a wonderful space, will visit often, and fish curry looks delicious...

  3. Hello Suja thanks for visiting and leaving a sweet comment...Really yummy and nice color....

  4. Thank you all for your sweet comments...thanks for dropping by. :)

  5. Thanks jyo..Welcome to my blog....

  6. you've instructed to rotate the pan near the end. should i not stir the contents but rotate the pan instead?

  7. Thanks Cybercoffee for stopping can stir the contents..but try gently. By rotating the pan the risk of breaking fish pieces will be reduced.

  8. Hi Suja,

    How r u dear? Am back from my hols..and have posted a new recipe. Do chk it out n let me know your thoughts!

  9. watch the kudampulli.. I think 5 to 6 is way too much and you haven't mentioned the shallots in the recipe!!

    1. Thanks a ton for pointing out,usually I make it into smaller strips,forgot mentioning that.Anyways I will edit and write according to your taste,preference of sourness differs from person to person. Recently I brought a batch and it was very sour and I am not able to put more that two or three pieces.
      Thanks for stopping by,have a nice day!

  10. I tried the dish twice its yummy but watery not thick like I hav eaten ( mom' s cookin)
    Can u tel hw much water I shud add, I poured enuff to submerge d pieces?


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