Chepala Pulusu–Andhra Fish Curry


Chepala Pulusu

This is for all my Andhra friends out there…Chepala Pulusu (Chepala-Fish, Pulusu-a tangy gravy). This dish is similar to the Tamil Meen Kolumbu.

The use of red chili and tamarind makes this curry very spicy and tangy. In my home state of Kerala we do not use the type of  tamarind used in this dish for fish curries—we use a special sour fruit–kokum ( a fruit from the tree Garcinia indica, part of the mangosteen family) .

_indica Garcinia indica

_indica Garcinia indica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this dish the addition of sambar tamarind yields a more thick and dark colored gravy.

Chepala Pulusu


1-2 lbs-Pomfret, Porgy, king fish, Blue fish, etc…cleaned and sliced into steaks or chunks

Marinade for fish: 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp ginger garlic paste, 1 tsp lemon juice, salt

1 large onion + 2 green chilies- pureed

1/2 onion, sliced

Few sprigs of curry leaves

1 lg tomato–pureed

3-4  tbs oil

1/2 tsp Mustard seeds

1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds

1/4 tsp cumin seeds

2-3 tsp Red chili powder (or to taste)

1/2 tsp paprika

2 tsp coriander pdr

1 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp garam masala

1tbs unsweetened coconut flakes

1 heaping tbs of tamarind block/paste dissolved in 4 tbs water and strained

Chopped cilantro for garnish


Step1:   Take the cleaned fish and add marinade ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hr.Heat oil 1-2 tsp oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the fish until light brown. Remove from oil and keep aside.

Step 2:  In a frying pan add remaining oil and add mustard seeds and fry til popped, add cumin and fenugreek seeds. Add sliced onions and curry leaves and fry until brown. Add ginger-garlic paste. then pureed onions. Fry until lt brown. Add all masala powder and sauté for a few minutes (until raw smell is gone). Add pureed tomatoes and allow to cook for 5 mts. Add more water if gravy is getting too thick. Oil should start separating. To this add tamarind paste and allow to cook for a few minutes. Add more water as needed to get a semi thick gravy. Add coconut flakes. Now drop in the fried fish and allow to cook for another 5 mts.

Transfer to a dish and garnish with chopped cilantro. Best served with white rice. Serves 4-6.

Chepala Pulusu

Shrimp Kabobs with Masala Corn and Peas Orzo


Since summer is here now and the temps are in the 80’s here is a perfect menu for the grill.



Shrimp Kabobs
2 lbs shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 large red Onion
2 zucchini or squash
Cherry tomatoes, if you like them
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp chili pdr
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black pepper
3 tbs lemon juice
Salt to taste
Mix all marinade ingredients and add to shrimp. Cut veggies into large chunks and add to shrimp. Refrigerate for a minimum of 15 mts.
Soak wooden skewers in water for 15 mts. Skewer shrimp and veggies.
Place on hot grill for 15 mts and turn until cooked.

Grilled Masala Sweet Corn
Husked corn- marinate with olive oil, salt, chili pdr,
Grill for 10 mts, turning frequently

Peas Orzo
2 cups dry orzo pasta
4 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 cup frozen peas
Salt to taste
Boil 8 cups water in large pot. Add some salt and add Orzo. Cook for 5-8 mts and drain when cooked.
Set aside.
Heat oil and butter in a sauce pan. Add garlic, red chili flakes, peas and salt. Add cooked orzo and toss.

Serve kabobs on a bed of orzo.

Keema Stuffed Tilapia


Note: I had started this post last week but do to unforeseeable circumstances ( which I may share later) wasn’t able to post it. The only issue is I didn’t get too take was the final picture.

This is an original recipe of mine. I have not seen or tasted this before but there maybe something like this out there. This recipe is not something you will make everyday but it is worth the effort if you have the time and you like whole fish. Good to make on the weekends.

Keema is any type of ground minced meat. I had cooked some beef to make cutlets and had no energy to finish making it so decided to stuff a marinated whole tilapia instead. This was then pan fried. You can bake or broil this too. Using a little of coconut oil adds lots of flavor. If you do not eat beef, you can substitute with ground lamb, chicken or turkey. It turned out great. My husband loved it with rice and salas ( raw onions, green chilies and tomatoes with salt and vinegar) after a long plane ride back home from India. I think next time I am going to make it with a seafood stuffing like mini shrimp.

There are 3 phases- Marinating the fish, Making the filling an then bringing them both together. Hope you like it!

Keema Stuffed Tilapia
3 whole medium sized fish, cleaned and scaled (Tilapia, Red Snapper, Porgie will work well)
Juice of half a lemon ( or white vinegar)
1 tsp turmeric
3 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
3 tsp salt

Make 3-4 vertical slits along the length of the fish and apply marinade all over ( in cavity and slits). Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Keema Stuffing

2 lb of beef chuck roast (may substitute with ground beef, chicken, turkey, lamb etc), boiled until cooked
1 tbsp Coconut or any other oil
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, diced
3-4 green chillies, chopped finely
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp each cumin and coriander pdr
2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chili pdr
Few curry leaves and cilantro leaves

1 beaten egg


Take cooked beef and mince in a food processor. In a medium frying pan, heat up oil, add cumin seeds and let splutter, add diced onions, green chilies, ginger and garlic. Saute for few minutes then add chili pdr, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder and garam masala and curry and cilantro leaves. Now add meat and combine.If you are using ground meat then just add the raw meat here and sauté until cooked. When it cools down a little add the beaten egg. This will help bind everything together when cooking.

Remove fish from fridge and stuff cavity with the meat and egg mixture. Pack tightly and bring edges of fish together as much as possible.

Pan fry Method: Heat up 4 tbs coconut oil in a non stick frying pan. Add the fish (do not crowd the pan) Resist the urge to flip it before it is crispy and brown or else pieces will get stuck on the pan. Intermittently baste the top of the fish with the oil that is in the pan. Flip and let other side get brown and crispy.

Bake or Broil Method: Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Place fish in pan and drizzle a little of coconut or olive oil over the top. Broil for at least 20 mts until cooked. Or bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 mts until cooked.

Serve with rice and salas.


Baked Pearl Spot-Meen Politchathu


My husband is a true Keralite and a any Keralite worth their salt loves the fish called Karimeen. Also called Pearl Spot, this fish found in the fresh backwaters of Kerala, is a white fleshed, extremely flavorful and scaly fish. Fresh is of course best but here in the US we can only get the frozen variety at the Indian store, and that on occasion. If you cannot get Karimeen, any whole medium sized fish will do ( Tilapia, Red Snapper, etc)
The technique of “Politchathu” is after lightly frying the fish, it is smothered in a thick gravy and then wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled. This is an American version, using parchment paper, foil and oven. This dish tastes more authentic when made with coconut oil.


Karimeen Politchathu:
2 whole Pearl Spots
1/2 c coconut oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1 lg onion, sliced ( using small red pearl onions is better,if available)
2-3 Roma Tomatoes, sliced
4 green chilies
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp Periyar fish masala
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
3-4 tbsp coconut milk
Few sprigs curry leaves
Chopped cilantro for garnishing
For fish marinade:
1/4 tsp red chili pdr
1/4 tsp fish masala
1/2 tsp salt
A few pinches
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice20130310-101426.jpg

Method :
Take cleaned fish and rinse well. Make linear cuts and mix all ingredients of marinade and coat fish and inside cavity and gashes. Let sit for 15 mts in refrigerator.
Take 1/2 coconut oil in a frying pan and fry fish lightly on both sides and remove. To the same frying pan, add rest of oil, when heated up add mustard seeds and after done spluttering add chopped onions, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, green chilies. Sauté until soft. Add all powdered spices and salt and mix well. Add sliced tomatoes. Then add coconut milk and keep mixing until somewhat absorbed…. Should be a thick mixture.
Place the fried fish on a parchment paper and smother with the onion and tomato mixture, add cilantro. Wrap in aluminum foil. Place in an oven preheated at 350 deg… Bake for 20 mts. Serve with rice.



My husbands favorite–Kerala Fish Curry


Kerala Fish curry is one of the most traditional dishes from my state of Kerala in India. It is consumed by most all Keraleans and any housewife worth their salt is judged on the how well this dish is made. It is my husbands favorite dish and I have perfected this recipe over the 22 years we have been married. This fiery red curry is spicy and tangy with the addition of fish tamarind or Kokum ( also called Camboge). This dried fruit is not the same as the tamarind used in other cooking and found only in Kerala. Without this, it is not Kerala fish curry. I make a more Kottayam style fish curry (kottayam is my fathers hometown with a rich syrian christian food heritage) It is also best the next day especially if kept in an earthenware dish or cheena chatti.

Kerala Fish Curry


2 lbs of firm fish, cleaned and cut into chunks ( I usually use King Fish or Blue fish)

2 tbsp. chopped ginger

2 tbsp. chopped garlic

3 tsp fish masala

1 tsp red chili powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp paprika

4 pieces of Kokum soaked in a cup of warm water

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 large onion sliced

handful of curry leaves

1/2 c coconut oil

1 tbsp. coconut slices


Heat 1/2 the coconut oil in a small frying pan and add ginger and garlic . Fry well until a deep brown. Add masala powders and fry for a few minutes. Remove from heat and grind with some of the water used to soak kokum until smooth. ( remove the kokum pieces- just use the soaking water) Take another larger frying pan and add the rest of the oil and add mustard seeds. After spluttering, add curry leaves, sliced onions, coconut slices and brown. Then add the ground spice mixture and more of the kokum water. Add fish pieces and reduce flame. Keep uncovered. Let cook for 10 minutes.  Serve with boiled or seasoned tapioca or white rice.