Kerala fish Curry

Kodampuli Fish Curry is one popular dish from Kerala that is why it is known as Kerala Fish Curry.  I have been meaning to make this dish for ages but it never happened.  

I was attracted to make this fish curry as I had been using kodampuli (Garcinia cambogia)  for quite sometimes to substitute any Indonesian dishes that add asam kandis.  Since I have a stock of asam kandis ever since my visit to Indonesia last May, I need to find some South Indian dishes which incorporate kodampuli.

If you wonder why asam kandis, kodampuli, kokum and asam gelugur interchangeably, please visit my post about Tart or Sour Flavourings in Indonesian Cooking.  Kodampuli has some other names such as Kudampuli, Gambooge, Malabar Tamarind, Fish Tamarind, Kerala Puli, Kerala Kudampuli, Malabar Kudampuli, Meen Puli, Meenpuli etc.

Being said that asam kandis can be the substitution, I suggest to my Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean foodies to add asam kandis if you can’t find kodampuli.

Malabar Tamarind

I saw some recipes of Kodampuli Fish Curry are adding fish masala.  But if you are not able to get it, don’t let yourself down and not to try this Kerala Fish Curry.  Some recipes also add green chilies and some are not.  Well it’s matter how spicy you like.

The recipe of Kodampuli Fish Curry that I adapted was from Kodampuli Fish of Lia, Kerala Fish Curry of Collaborative Curry and Kodampuli Fish Curry (Kerala Style) of Nilagreens

Kodampuli Fish Curry
Kerala Fish Curry

1 kg king mackerel fish pieces
4 pieces kodampuli (Malabar tamarind), soaked in 1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
5 shallots (you will need 10 if you have a smaller size one)
4 tablespoons minced garlic, divided
3 tablespoons minced ginger, divided
4 green chilies,slit
3 sprigs curry leaves,divided
2 tablespoons fish masala (optional), divided
2 tablespoons (more or less) kashmiri chili powder, divided
2 teaspoons toasted coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
a generous pinch of fenugreek powder
seasalt as desired

To reduce the strong smell of fish:
1 calamansi (Nilagreens’ recipe calls for lemon juice instead)
a pinch of turmeric powder

Kodampuli Fish Curry

Wash and clean the fish fillets. In a bowl, add some water and a pinch of turmeric powder, squeeze calamansi to take the juice out then soak the fish fillets for 5 minutes. Drain and keep aside.

Make a rub for the fish from mixing 1/2 part of fish masala, 1/2 part of chili powder, 1/3 part of garlic and ginger. Rub the mixture on fish. Set aside.

Grind another part of fish masala, another part of chilli powder, coriander seeds, turmeric powder, 1/3 part of minced garlic and minced ginger into a paste. Add a small amount of water. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Splutter mustard followed by fenugreek seeds. Add sliced shallot, green chillies, 2 sprigs of curry leaves and the remaining part of ginger and garlic. Saute well.

Reduce the heat and add the paste. Stir for 3-4 minutes until the raw smell disappears. Add kodampuli along with the water that you used to soak. Add 1 cup water and a bit salt then increase the heat and bring the gravy to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the fish fillets along with the marinade. Cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes swirling the pan occasionally but do not stir in between. This will prevent fish pieces from getting smashed.

Turn off the heat, add 1 tablespoon coconut oil, a sprig of fresh curry leaves and fenugreek powder. Taste if require salt or not. Mix carefully, so that fish pieces aren’t falling a part. Cover the pan. Keep this fish curry for atleast 6-7 hours before serving, so that the fish absorbs all the flavors. You can remove a few pieces of Kodampuli if you find the gravy to be very sour.

Note: According to Collaborative Curry, this Kodampuli Fish Curry is the best accompaniment for Kappa Puzhukku (Mashed Tapioca/Yuca). I was serving it with steamed rice.


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