Thengai Pal Meen Kuzhambu/Fish Curry with Coconut Milk
After a few years of cooking not so good meen kuzhambu/fish curry or not as good as mother-in-law’s fish curry, this one came as a respite. This fish curry never flopped – might be because of the coconut milk added. Thengai Pal means Coconut Milk in tamil and thengai pal gives an exotic flavour to any curry or payasam, no doubt.
Meen Kuzhambu holds a special place in Tamilnadu cuisine. Fresh fish curry is not served immediately and is considered better in taste the next day. The fish is left to absorb the flavour of tamarind with spices till the next day -not in the refrigerator please! I have seen my mother-in-law cook fish kuzhambu specially in a man chatti – earthen pot and leave it till next day. Though I don’t wait till the next day, at least three to four hours of waiting time after the curry is done is advisable.
While traditional Meen Kuzhambu would follow in the near future, this kuzhambu is something for the buffet table I would say. Frozen fish fillet also suits this and in fact, I find fillet tastes best in this kuzhambu/gravy. Ingredients needed to make this kuzhambu are also easily available in the market – especially not much of spice grinding involved for those ‘quick cooks’!
For those new entrants to the world of non-vegetarianism (quite recently like me) and those who find tasting, consuming and especially cooking fish a troublesome issue, this kuzhambu would be easy work. Might be useful for non-cook husbands too – to introduce their wives to the fish world! Now, let’s plunge into making thengai pal meen kuzhambu.
Here, Tilapia Fish is used as it tastes better. I also use Panga Fish fillet got from the fish store. But, feel free to use any kind of fish you love.
Thengai Pal Meen Kuzhambu/Coconut Milk Fish Curry
Ingredients (serves 2)
- Meen - Any fish/fish fillet – 250 gms
- fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
- garlic – 5 cloves
- chinna vengayam/shallots - 8 nos. or big onion - 1 no.
- tomatoes – 2 no.s
- tamarind – lemon sized ball
- red chilli powder – 2 tsp
- coriander powder – 1 tsp
- salt – as needed
- coconut milk – 1 cup (canned or freshly extracted)
- any cooking oil – 2 tsp
- For Tempering
- nallennai/gingelly oil - 2 tsp
- mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
- curry leaves – a few
chinna vengayam/shallots and poondu/garlic
Method of Preparation
- Soak tamarind in warm water for 15 minutes. Take the juice and keep aside
- Peel the skin of garlic, wash and keep aside
- Chinna vengayam or shallots always taste good in any fish curry – just peel the skin, wash and keep aside. If one uses big onion, peel, wash and cut to four pieces.
- Heat 1 tsp oil in an iruppu chatti/kadai
- Fry 1 tsp fenugreek seeds, garlic and onions in oil
- When they turn golden brown, add tomatoes and let them become soft
- Cool and blend well
- Heat remaining 1 tsp cooking oil in an iruppu chatti, and pour in the blended mixture
- Add tamarind juice, red chilli powder, coriander powder and salt and bring it to boil
- Let it boil to make a semi-thick gravy. Once fish is added, the gravy would become thinner/watery. Hence, it is advisable to make a thick gravy and then add fish to it
- Once the fish is cooked, pour in the coconut milk and cook in medium position for 5 minutes
- Tempering with gingelly oil enhances the taste of any south indian kuzhambu. Heat 2 tsp gingelly oil in a separate chatti; Add mustard seeds – when they splutter add curry leaves
- Pour this into the meen kuzhambu and serve hot
- Thengai Pal Meen Kuzhambu tastes best with Rice.
- Red chilli powder can be altered as per taste
- Tamarind pulp available in shops can also be used – add water and make a pourable consistency
- Meen Kuzhambu is cooked in nallennai or gingelly oil. If it is not available, one can use any cooking oil.