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Kallu Shappu Karimeen Curry | Kerala Toddy Shop style Pearl spot Fish Curry

Kallu Shappu Karimeen Curry | Kerala Toddy Shop style Pearl spot Fish Curry


 Kallu Shappu Karimeen Curry | Kerala Toddy Shop style Pearl spot Fish Curry 

Today’s fish curry represents the food of rural Kerala, the authentic taste of Kerala. It has a robust, bold flavor and spices that tickle your taste buds. If you like to indulge in spicy fish curries, mashed tapioca/ kappa vevichathu is considered the tastiest combo. This combo is quite popular in toddy shops/ kallu shappu or Kerala’s rural taverns. If you are not familiar with toddy shops, they are small taverns that serve a mildly alcoholic beverage called toddy. It is collected from the budding flower stalks of the coconut tree and is either consumed fresh or slightly fermented. But it is not just the toddy, but also the delicious food that makes locals flock to these humble taverns. Food served in toddy shops is simple,  delicious, and very spicy. So if you like spicy food, then this kallu shappu/ toddy shop-inspired fish curry is a must-try. All you need to go with this curry is a bowl of steamed rice or mashed tapioca.

There are thousands of toddy shops all around Kerala. A few years back, toddy shops were not popular as family eat-outs. But now, these hidden gems have gained recognition, and many toddy shops now function as small restaurants where you can enjoy delicious food with family. There are regional variations to fish curries, but toddy shop fish curry is known for its signature fiery red curry. Red chilly and Kudampuli/Malabar tamarind brings in the spicy, tangy, smokey flavor which is distinctive in Kerala fish curry. The Kashmiri chilly, give heat and dark red color to the curry, and Malabar tamarind adds a tangy smokiness to the gravy. This curry tastes best the next day, so it is best to use it the next day and allow the flavors to develop. Pearl spot fish or Karimeen is a popular fish found in rivers and backwaters of Kerala. For this recipe, I have used Karimeen, but you can also use king fish, pomfret, or Thirutha/mullet. Root vegetables and tubers like tapioca with fish curry is a staple in most toddy shop. You can also serve it with appam or with rice.


The tamarind used in this recipe is Kudampuli/ Gambooge/Malabar tamarind. Kudampuli is used in fish curries as a  souring agent. It has lots of medicinal value, and helps aid digestion. Kudampuli is prepared by smoking and sun drying, and it gives a smoky flavor to the fish curry. For this recipe, I am using stewed Kudampuli. It imparts more flavor and taste to the curry. You can store the stewed kudampuli/ tamarind for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. If you do not have kudampuli, you can use tamarind instead. You can also buy Kudampuli online from Amazon.

The chilly masala is made by roasting whole dry Kashmiri chilies with shallots, coriander, and coconut and ground into a smooth paste. Alternatively, you can use Kashmiri chilly powder. It does not have a lot of heat but imparts a rich dark color to the curry. It is seasoned with coconut oil and fresh curry leaves. If you want a milder fish curry to add one cup of coconut milk.


Kallu Shappu Karimeen Curry | Kerala Toddy Shop style Pearl spot Fish Curry 

Pearl spot fish/or any fish of your choice – 1 kg
Shallots diced- 1/2 cup
Ginger-cut into thin strips-1 inch piece
Garlic cut into thin strips- 2-3
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek powder- 1/2 tsp
Coconut oil- 3 tbs
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
hing- a pinch
Kudampuli- 3-4 pieces
Curry leaves- 2 springs
Green chilly – 1
salt to taste

To make a paste
Kashmiri dry red chilly- 10- 15
Coriander seeds- 1 tbs
Garlic- 2 cloves
Coconut- 3-4 tbs
Pearl Onion- 1/2 cup
Black pepper- 1 tsp

Cut and clean the fish and keep aside. Add salt and lemon juice and wash fish thoroughly.
Wash and soak kudampuli in warm water for 5 minutes. Into a pot, add the kudampuli/Malabar tamarind with some salt and half a cup of water. Mix in a pinch of turmeric powder, some curry leaves, and a tablespoon of coconut oil. Cook in low flame till the tamarind is soft and cooked.

In a pan, add a teaspoon of oil and roast the chilly till crispy and brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set this aside. In the same pan, add coriander seeds, black pepper, and saute for two minutes. Add pearl onions, coconut, and garlic and saute till onions and coconut is golden brown. Let it cool down. Add the chilies and onion coconut mixture and grind into a smooth paste.
Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add curry leaves, sliced ginger, garlic, and saute for a minute. Add chopped shallots and saute for a minute. Add the ground paste and saute till oil separates. Add the stewed kudampuli and three cups of boiling water. Let it come to a boil.
Add the fish pieces and after a minute, turn the heat down to a bubbling simmer. Cook in low flame for 15- 18 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking till the gravy thickens and oil separates. Finally, add some curry leaves, fenugreek powder, and a tablespoon of coconut oil.

See Also


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Karimeen Molly-Pearl Spot Fish Coconut Milk Stew
Meen Peera Pattichathu/ Anchovy Fish with Coconut
Mashed Tapioca/Kappa Vevichathu/Puzhukku
Kerala Fish Curry ( Mulaku Curry)
Mathi Puliyum Mulakum/Sardine Fish Curry
Kerala Fish Fry/ Chala/ Sardine Fry 

 Try it,

Hope you will all enjoy!


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