Thursday 22 September 2011

Meen Vevichathu/Fish Curry - Kottayam Style

I still have such fond memories of my holidays I used to spend at my grand parent's home. The man on a black ferry (vanji/vallom) would paddle by the small river at the backside of our home selling fish and other goodies. We even used to travel by these ferries to homes on the other side of the river bank. I still remember running out of bed with tousled hair and a puffy morning face with other children to catch fish from this little river. They had a very fascinating method of fishing. It was called "Kudukka" which were coconut shells filled with bait sealed with cloth and a tiny hole in the middle. These were placed at different spots in the river and within a few minutes these "kudukka" 's would be loaded with a myriad of fresh water fish. Of course there were other kinds of fish too (caught by the hook or net) like mackarel, sardines etc...

I was also very fascinated by the way this fish used to be cleaned. My ammachi's (that's what I call my paternal grandma) help (Pennamma) used to sit on a low stool (called korandi) and clean the fish under ammachi's supervision and I would be squatted nearby listening to ammachi's interesting stories and closely watching them trim the fins and tail dexterously off the fish and laying them into a clean pot nearby. There would be so much cleaning, rubbing it on stone and then tossing it around in the pot with rock salt. Of course, nowadays we get all our fish cleaned, skinned and filleted as per requirement and making a fish curry these days is one of the easiest tasks one could do.

Meen Vevichathu or this style of fish curry is the most sought after dish at every home in Kerala. As you already know I am a huge fan of fish in any form and thus decided to make a nice spicy Kottayam style Fish Curry for lunch today. Meen Vevichathu, I must say makes me feel instantly at home. Here is a simple yet delicious fish curry my family makes often. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Fish - 1/2 kg (cut into medium size pieces)
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Fenugreek powder - 1/4 tsp
Ginger (finely chopped) - 1 inch piece
Garlic (finely chopped) - 8 to 10 cloves
Shallots/Small/Pearl onions - 10 to 12
Cocum/Kudampuli - 1 piece soaked in a little water for cleaning fish + 3 to 4 pieces (depending on sourness) soaked in 1/4 cup of water for cooking the fish
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 tbsp
Kashmiri Chilli powder - 2 to 2 1/2 tbsp
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Coconut oil - 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp
Salt - to taste


Wash and clean the fish with 1 piece of cocum/kudampuli soaked in water and keep aside. Mix turmeric powder and chilli powders with water to make a watery paste and keep aside. Heat the meen chatti (earthenware) or a pan and once hot pour oil into it. Splutter mustard seeds. Add chopped shallots/small/pearl onions, ginger, garlic and curry leaves and saut'e till onions become soft and the raw smell of the aromatics disappear. Now, add the masala paste and saut'e. Add about 3 to 4 splashes of water into this and keep frying till oil surfaces. Add a little more water and mix well. Then, add the soaked cocum/kudampuli along with the water and mix well. Add salt and bring it to a boil. When it starts boiling, add the fenugreek powder and stir well. At this time, add the fish pieces into it and cover and cook. When the curry starts boiling, cook for 1 or 2 minutes on a high flame and then reduce the flame to sim and cook the fish till done. (20 to 25 minutes approx) Make sure the gravy is thick. Serve with Rice or Kappa. (Tapioca)

Notes: The fish curry has to rest for a few hours before it is kept in the refrigerator. This helps enhance the flavour of the curry.

Source: Mom

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