Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Naadan Meenu Curry - Kerala Fish Curry

To say we are fans of the humble but awesomely delish naadan meenu curry is an understatement. and to say i swear by my mother's version is but stating the obvious. Pair it with steaming hot rice and moru kaachiyathu and you have a meal with the works. or just that delish curry with slices of regular sandwich bread as we used to for a snack when we got back from school when growing up is pretty amazing. it's also yum with chappathis. Oooh, i almost forgot - it's mindblowing brilliant with kappa vevichuthu! You get my drift right. With so many endless possibilities, the meenu curry is versatile,  one-of-a-kind and one of the fav curries in any malayalee' home. For me, the meenu curry is a taste of home and of childhood and meals eaten with the entire family.
For the uninitiated, this dish is tangy and spicy and not for the fainthearted. It works best with the freshest fish you can lay your hands on. And most of all, it is quite forgiving. You can come up with your own versions (i know people who add tomatoes!) and still love it and make memories of your own!
P.S: Do not be put off by the list of ingredeints. In all likelihood, you must have most of the ingredients in your pantry right. The kodum puli cannot be substituted if you want the ditto taste as of lingering memories of meenu curries eaten with your mother or grandmothers.

You will need:

i) Neie meenu (aka Sear fish/King fish) - 1 kg (medium sized chunks)
ii) For the paste:
    Kasmiri chili powder - 6 tablespoons
    Turmeric - 3/4 teaspoon
    Shallots - 4
    Garlic - 2
    Ginger - 1/2 inch long
iii) For the curry:
    Shallots peeled and cut - 10
    Garlic chopped - 8
    Kodam Puli - 5 large pieces
    Roasted Fenugreek powder - 1/2 teaspoon
    Mustard - 1 teaspoon
    Curry leaves - 4 sprigs
    1 cup water
iv) Coconut oil to sauté in
v) Salt to taste
vi) Mannu Chatti to cook the curry in

-Wash fish thoroughly. I suggest washing it in maida and salt. Make sure the odor goes away, without breaking up the fish into pieces. My grandmom used to say, after you are done washing, you ought to be able to see the reflection of your face in the water that has the fish - meaning, that clear and that clean!!
-At this point, soak the kodam puli in 1 cup water and let it boil for 3-4 minutes. (This is so that all the goodness of the kodam puli, and i mean that lovely flavor and tanginess seeps into the water-Yum!!)
-Soak turmeric and chili powder for 4 minutes in water. Then grind the ingredients mentioned in point i) into a fine paste. Keep aside.
-Sputter the mustard seeds in a frying pan. Add 2 sprigs of curry leaves.
-Add the shallots and garlic and sauté over a small flame till it becomes light brown. Add the ground paste. Keep stirring till it cooks well. An indication is, 'the oil clears' as my mother says (at least 4 minutes on the flame after you add the paste).
-Take the mannu chatti, lay a sprig of curry leaves at the bottom and add the sautéd goodies to it along with the kodam puli, the water it was soaking in and the other cup of water. Add salt. Let it come to a boil.
-Add the fish. Increase the heat and let it cook. The curry will reduce and the fish is soaking up all the flavors in the process.
-Reduce the heat after a bit and watch over the mannu chatti while the fish cooks. Switch off the flame and sprinkle the fenugreek powder  and garnish with remaining curry leaves. Let it rest for a bit before serving.


  1. That makes truly drool. Love cooking in mannu chatti. The taste gets enchanced. Very nice recipe !!

  2. What a lovely colour..I would love to eat it..

  3. seeing the picture itself I m curry in chatti what else can I ask for a treat !!

  4. Wow drool worthy,spicy and tempting curry,adipoli color..yum

  5. I have no mann chatti and no kudum puli.. but decided I will just have the lap turned on and the picture in front when I want to have a delish naaden meal. Lovely pics, vibrant colors and powerful writing!

  6. I am amazed by the rich and vibrant color of this gravy !! superb preparation...

  7. curry looks very flavorful and delicious

  8. am crazy over Kerala fish curries...your mom's version looks scrumptious.

  9. I definitely want this one, next I am in Chennai :)

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