This creamy fish curry is a showcase of the unique cooking style of Kerala on the southern tip of India and Sri Lanka. Due to the region’s tropical location, the cuisine is defined by a an abundant use of hot chili pepper, fragrant whole spices, and naturally sweet coconut milk that differs from the heartier of the north.
This dish is made with a mild white fish like catfish, halibut, sea bass, or cod. There is also a version of this dish called Chemeen Moilee that uses shelled shrimp instead of fish.
Meen Moilee – Keralan Coconut Milk Fish Curry
- Large skillet
- 2¼ lb Firm white fish fillets, skinless
- 1 tbsp Turmeric powder, divided
- ¼ tsp Red chili pepper powder (Sub: cayenne powder)
- Kosher salt
- 1 tbsp Coconut or vegetable oil
- ½ tsp Fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp Black mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp Fresh ginger root, finely chopped
- 2 medium Fresh green chilli, cut into thin slivers
- 12 Curry leaves
- 1 medium Red onion, peeled, halved and sliced thin across the grain into crescents
- ⅛ tsp Ground cumin
- 14 oz Can diced tomatoes
- 14 oz Can coconut milk
- Marinate Fish – Cut fish into bite-sized chunks and put them in a plastic sealed bag. Rub chunks with half the turmeric, chili powder, and a little salt. Set aside.
- Cook Fish – Heat 2 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In order, stir in each of these ingredients for about 10 seconds each: fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, ginger, green chili, and curry leaves. Add onions with a sprinkle of salt and stir fry until until soft, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle onions with remaining turmeric powder, cummin, and stir fry a few seconds.Add a pinch of salt and mix in chunks of fish. Add canned of diced tomatoes with its juices. Gently stir fry until the fish is cooked through but not dry, 5-7 minutes.
- Finish Dish – When fish cooked through, remove pan from heat. Stir in the coconut milk and transfer to a warm shallow bowl to serve. Garnish with a few curry leaves and serve alongside rice.
- Any white fish steak that won’t break apart when stirred can be used. Shrimp or a mix of seafoods can be used as well.
- The sauce can be refrigerated or frozen in advance and added just before the tomatoes and fish when cooking.