While discussing with my friend Milsa, I happened to learn that Fish is often cooked in a roasted coconut gravy in the southern regions of Kerala. This Fish Curry is known as Varutharacha Meen Curry. Grated Coconut and spices are fried and then ground to a paste. Fish is cooked in this paste along with Fish Tamarind (Kudam Puli). I tried this fish curry for the first time and it tasted entirely different from the regular Kottayam style fish curry. Roasted coconut and spices made this curry irresistible. The gravy was thick and flavorful, and we all liked it.
We had this fish curry with Chappathi but it goes well with Rice and almost everything. The preparation is almost similar to that of Theeyal.
- Fish – 1 lb (1/2 kg approx) [I used Spanish Mackerel]
- Sliced Shallots – 3 or 4
- Minced Ginger – 1 to 2 tbsp
- Minced Garlic – 2 to 3 cloves
- Curry Leaves – A sprig
- Fish Tamarind (Kudampuli) – 2 small pieces
- Eastern Fish Masala Powder – 1 tbsp (optional)
- Lemon Juice – 1 tbsp
- Oil – 2 to 3 tbsp
- Mustard Seeds – 1/4 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Water – as needed
For Dry Roasting
- Grated Coconut – 1 cup
- Fennel Seeds (Perum Jeerakam) – 1/4 tsp
- Curry Leaves – A few
- Shallots – 2
- Garlic – 1 small cloves
- Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
- Kashmiri Chilly Powder – 2 tbsp (Alter according to your spice tolerance)
- Coriander Powder – 1 tbsp
- Fenugreek Powder (Uluva) – 1/4 tsp
- Pepper Powder – 1/2 tsp
- Clean the fish thoroughly and cut it into curry sized pieces. Soak it in water along with 1 tbsp lemon juice for 5 minutes. Wash and drain the fillets. Keep aside.
- Wash and soak the fish tamarind (kudampuli) in 1 cup of warm water.
- Heat a non stick pan and dry roast coconut, shallots, garlic, curry leaves and fennel seeds until the coconut turns into a nice dark brown color.
- Reduce heat and add coriander, chilly, turmeric, fenugreek and pepper powders. Continue roasting for a minute or two and remove from heat. Allow it to cool and grind everything to a smooth powder.
- Apply this roasted coconut-spice powder on the fish along with salt and little water. Keep the marinated fish aside for atleast 15 minutes.
- Heat oil in a deep pan or manchatti (earthern pot) and splutter mustard seeds.
- Throw in the sliced shallots, curry leaves, ginger and garlic. Saute for a few minutes until the shallots begin to brown.
- Reduce heat and add 1 tbsp fish masala powder. Saute for a minute.
- Add the fish tamarind along with its water. Add more water as required along with salt to taste.
- Stir everything and allow it to come to a slow boil and then add the marinated fish pieces along with any remaining roasted coconut paste.
- Cover and cook the fish for around 15 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally. Remove lid and continue cooking so that the gravy thickens.
- Remove from stove top and keep covered. The gravy tends to thicken after a while.
- You may increase or decrease the amount of fish tamarind (kudampuli) to suit your taste.
- You can use any thick fleshed fish like King Fish or Shark for this curry.