Meen Kuzhambu | Fish Curry in Tamarind and Coconut Sauce

Meen Kuzhambu ~ Fish Curry in Tamarind and Coconut Sauce


This dish never fails to excite. I haven’t had to make any changes to my mom’s version of this tangy-spicy tamarind-based curry. And the few times that I ventured out of the norm, to try out say a mustard-curry or something else hoping to discover another winner, we’ve always felt like justice was not done to that batch of fish. The curry itself is packed with flavors so the sides don’t need much to go with it, and I personally like a simple vegetable poriyal to balance the meal. However, if you’re feeling like it, there’s nothing better than putting together a meal of fish curry served with fish puttu. I’m drooling already!

You could use any variety of fish for this recipe, and I usually end up with either tilapia or catfish which seem to soak in the flavors best. Back in the days, mom used to cook with king mackerel or murrel. But for me, frozen and cleaned fillets of tilapia/catfish win hands-down. However, I did manage to make this batch with fresh cut steaks of tilapia just so you could really see the fish in there. Just this once. Just for the photographs. Now that I am done clicking these for you, I can’t wait to go back to my good old boneless skinless fillets!


Meen Kuzhambu ~ Fish Curry in Tamarind and Coconut Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes (for pre-cleaned fish) | Cooking Time: 30 minutes | Serves: 6 – 8


  1. 1.5 lb fish, cut into steaks or fillets cut into chunks
  2. 2 tbsp oil (coconut preferred)
  3. 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  4. 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
  5. 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
  6. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  7. 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  8. 1 medium head of garlic, peeled and cut to preferred size (approx. 10 cloves)
  9. 3-4 green chilies, slit lengthwise
  10. 2 cups of tamarind extract, taken out from a lemon-sized piece of tamarind (adjust water if using coconut milk)
  11. 1/3 cup fresh or grated coconut, ground to a paste with a little water (substitute with 1/2 cup coconut milk)
  12. 1 tsp red chili powder, adjust to taste
  13. 2 tsp ground coriander
  14. 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  15. salt to taste
  16. few curry leaves



Optional prep: Marinate the fish with half the quantity of turmeric, red chili powder and some salt. Set aside.



  1. Heat oil in a large pan. Add the mustard, fennel and fenugreek seeds on medium heat and allow mustard to crackle.
  2. Add the chopped onions and curry leaves along with some salt and cook until medium-brown.
  3. Add the chopped garlic, green chilies and remaining turmeric powder and saute for a minute.
  4. Add diced tomatoes, coriander powder, remaining chili powder and cook on medium-heat until tomatoes are soft and mushy.
  5. Add tamarind extract, adjust salt and spice to taste, and bring to a boil.
  6. Add marinated fish pieces to the tamarind mix and cook on medium heat until the fish is cooked through and done.
  7. Add the ground coconut paste or coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
  8. Simmer for a little longer if you’d like the water to boil off until curry reaches desired consistency.
  9. Check the curry for salt/spice levels and turn off the heat.

Let it rest for at least 30 minutes before serving with steamed rice, to allow flavors to soak into the fish pieces. The curry tastes better with time!


3 Responses to “Meen Kuzhambu | Fish Curry in Tamarind and Coconut Sauce”
  1. Priti says:

    Stellar!. Love the addition of coconut!. Can’t agree with you more on the fillets!.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] hot with steamed white rice and curry of choice. Family favorites include mor curry, fish curry and […]

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