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Kerala Fish Vattichathu from India

This is a delicious and nutritious fish preparation from the Malabar coast of India, a dish full of Omega 3! You can reduce the chillies if you find this too spicy. If you are concerned about cholesterol replace coconut oil with canola oil.


1 lb (1/2 kg.) sardines or mackerels. Cut a gash on the side of the fish and clean it thoroughly. 
12 broiled chillies 
2 tsp. broiled coriander seeds 
2 pinches broiled fenugreek seeds 
6 pepper corns 
1/2 tsp. mustard 
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder 
1/4 cup coconut oil 
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots 
1 tbsp. garlic (small variety) 
1 tsp. thinly cut (1" long strips) ginger 
Salt to taste 
A few curry leaves 
2 or 3 pieces fish tamarind, washed, soaked and broken into small pieces 
1 cup water

Yields: 6 servings


  1. Combine chillies, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, black pepper corns, mustard 
    and turmeric powder. Beat them into a coarse powder. (Alternately, you can buy ground spices and mix them together.)

  2. Heat 2 tbsp. oil and sauté shallots, garlic, and ginger till they are well seasoned. Add the spice mix from the previous step and mix well.

  3. Remove from fire. When cool, add salt, curry leaves and fish tamarind. Mix well.

  4. Pour 2 tsp. oil into an earthenware skillet or a regular skillet and spread it evenly.

  5. Arrange a layer of fish. Spread a layer of spice mix (masala) over the packed fish. Repeat till all the fish and spices are used up. Finish with a layer of spices on top.

  6. Pour water over the packed fish. Keep it on stove/range and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and allow the fish to cook on a slow heat.

  7. When all the water is absorbed and the spice coats the fish with the clear oil on top, remove fish from heat.

  8. Traditionally served with rice.

(Based on a recipe by: Mrs. K. M. Mathew)

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