Nadan Meen Curry

In Kerala, almost every household has its own fish curry recipe which can be considered an heirloom recipe.

I've often heard people saying they at least need a whiff of fish curry to have rice, no wonder fish is a must-have item in Kerala oonu (meals).

Though the fish curry varies throughout Kerala, I feel the base flavor is somewhat similar. It's like we all are traveling toward a common destination but taking different routes!

The basic flavor composition of the curry is spiciness and tanginess. How you chose to add it to the curry makes the difference. It can be chilli powder, pepper powder or green chilli or dried red chilli paste for the heat and it can be kudampuli (gambooge) or tamarind, or tomato for the tanginess.

Then comes the “coconut” part of it. There is fish curry with or without coconut. If you decide to go with coconut, how do you want to use it… as coconut milk or coconut paste, or roasted coconut.

The medium you use for the spice and tanginess, the use of coconut, all these different things may seem trivial, but all these tiny little nuances are what make your fish curry your family heirloom!

So, here is another one for you to try out. Here we use both tomato and kudampuli with coconut milk.

Give it a try and let me know what you think? Also, am more than happy to hear about your “secret” family recipe for fish curry :)

Here is the recipe…

Nadan Meen Curry
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Nadan Meen Curry

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Course: Main Course
Author: Maria Jose Martin


  • 250 gms Fish (refer notes)
  • 1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 4-5 (a pinch) Fenugreek seeds
  • 6-8 Small/pearl onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp, each Crushed ginger & garlic
  • 2 heaped tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 3 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp Pepper powder
  • 1 small – medium Tomato (pureed)
  • 2 pieces Kudampuli (gambooge) (soaked in 2 tbsp hot water for 10-15 mins)
  • 1/2 cup Thick coconut milk
  • Salt
  • 1 stalk Curry leaves
  • 1.5 tbsp + 1 tsp + 1 tsp Coconut oil


  • Mix together kashmiri chilli, coriander, turmeric, and pepper powder with 1 tsp oil and 2 -3 tbsp water to a thick paste. Keep it aside.
  • Heat oil (1.5 tbsp) in a clay pot/wide pan. Add mustard, fenugreek seeds, and half of the curry leaves. Let it crackle.
  • Add sliced pearl onion and crushed ginger & garlic. Cook till pearl onion becomes golden brown in color, 4-5 mins.
  • Add the spice powder paste. Mix well and cook for 3-4 mins or till the oil starts appearing.
  • Add pureed tomato and 1/3 cup water and salt. Mix well and bring it to a boil. Reduce the flame to the lowest and add soaked gambooge (kudampuli) along with the water. Mix well.
  • Add cleaned fish pieces. Rotate the pan amd make sure the pieces are covered in the gravy. Cover and cook for 15 – 20 mins, till the fish is almost done.
  • Once the gravy becomes thick and the fish is almost cooked, add thick coconut milk. Rotate the pan gently and let it cook for another 5 mins on the lowest flame. Remove from fire.
  • Drizzle some coconut oil on top, add the remaining curry leaves and let the curry rest for half an hour for the flavor to settle in.


I used King/seer fish (neymeen) for this recipe. You can use any meaty kind of fish here.
After adding the fish pieces, it's best to rotate the pan to mix the gravy and fish. 
Also, you can do a tempering in the end with 3 sliced pearl onions, 1/4 tsp mustard, 1-2 dry red chilli, and curry leaves. Add it to the fish curry. 
Tried this recipe? Let others know by…mentioning @mariasmenu or tagging #mariasmenu
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