Creamy and Rich, Mildly Spiced Fish Stew made with Coconut Milk, Tomatoes, Green Chilies and Pepper… A Traditional Kerala Easter Dish…!
With Easter being around the corner, it’s time to share my recipe for one of the most popular Easter dishes of my hometown Kerala; Fish Molee…!
So, what’s this dish all about? It’s a mildly spiced fish stew made with coconut milk, usually served along with Appam (pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut) or bread. I’m still not convinced on what it’s actual name is, I hear Fish Molly / Molee / Moilee (duh, people pronounce it differently) and in Malayalam we call it Meen Molly; meen meaning fish, likewise.
Spicy Hot is a major highlight of all the fish recipes in Kerala, and that’s where fish molee stands out for its versatility & being mild on the spiciness. The use of green chilies and black pepper keeps the heat subtle while the coconut milk makes it creamy and rich, and of course the aroma from the fresh curry leaves takes the whole dish to the next level… No wonder it’s a tourist favorite!!!
The story of the dish Fish Molee goes all the way back a few centuries when Portuguese were colonizing India, and Kerala was one of their major trading ports then. Their influence gave a major impact to Indian culture, trade and food. They introduced many vegetables including potatoes, pineapple, watermelon, guava as well as some of their signature dishes like Pork Vindaloo, Portuguese Beef stew and Barbeque, to the Indian food palate. Since Kerala was abundant with spices, coconuts, and seafood, the local people who worked for them cooked some of their traditional Kerala dishes, but they couldn’t handle the heat. So, the dish was later modified by getting rid of the red chili powder and adding coconut milk, to make it mild. The Portuguese very much enjoyed the dish and named it after the lady Molly who cooked it, and that’s how Fish Molee was born!
Fish Molee is quite similar to Kerala Chicken Stew in its preparation. Both are mildly spiced and flavored with coconut milk, however they differ in the spices used. Here the fried fish pieces are simmered in a coconut milk gravy along with black pepper and tomatoes. The dish is best served with Appam or bread, but chapathis, rotis & rice also go well.
Interested in more Kerala style fish recipes, check this out:
- Anchovy Fry/ നെത്തോലി നിറവ്
- Fish Fry / മീൻ വറുത്തത്
- Roasted Coconut Fish Curry / വറുത്തരച്ച മീൻ കറി
- Fish Curry with Coconut Milk /തേങ്ങാപാൽ ഒഴിച്ച മീൻ കറി
- Red Fish Curry/മീൻ മുളകിട്ടത്
- Fish Biriyani
Enjoy, Happy Cooking…!
Interested in a Gluten-Free version with Greek flavours? Check out this healthy Greek Fish Soup with potatoes & vegetables (Psarosoupa) from The Hungry Bites.
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Creamy and Rich, Mildly Spiced Fish Stew made with Coconut Milk, Tomatoes, Green chilies and Pepper... A Traditional Kerala Easter Dish...!
- ½ kg fish (see notes, I have used pompano here)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp pepper powder
- Salt (as required)
- ½ inch sized ginger piece (finely minced)
- 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
- 1 medium sized onion (sliced)
- 3-4 green chilies (slit)
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 cup thin coconut milk
- 1 cup thick coconut milk
- 2 sprigs of curry leaves
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 to mato (sliced to rounds)
- Salt (as required)
- Coconut oil (as required)
Clean and cut fish into pieces. Marinate with lemon juice, pepper, salt and turmeric powder for 15-20 minutes.
In a kadai/pan, add little oil and shallow fry fish on both sides. Keep it aside.
In a separate pan, add oil and heat on a medium flame. Add curry leaves, ginger, garlic and green chilies, sauté for a minute until its raw smell subsides.
Add the sliced onions and sauté until it turns translucent, ensure not to brown the onions.
Follow by adding turmeric powder, pepper powder and thin coconut milk. Close the lid and allow the curry to boil for 5-6 minutes on a medium flame. When the oil starts separating, reduce the flame to a low and add lemon juice, mix well.
Now add the fried fish, cover it with the gravy, and allow the curry to blend well with the fish, bring to a boil. Do not stir once the fish is added, instead rotate the pan to mix the gravy.
Add the thick coconut milk and cook on a low flame for another 2 minutes, make sure not to allow the dish to boil beyond this stage. Check for the seasoning.
Add sliced round tomatoes and more curry leaves, close the lid and switch off the flame. Let the tomato cook in the remaining steam.
Serve with Appam, Idiyappam, Chapati/Roti, Rice or Bread.
• Addition of lemon juice is optional, but I highly recommend it. You can skip it and add a half of a chopped tomato for the extra tanginess.
• Fishes like tilapia, pompano, salmon, king fish, pomfret, red snapper, pearl spot can be used.
• Adjust the spiciness of the curry according to your taste by reducing green chilies.
• Coconut oil is ideal for all authentic Kerala recipes, but any neutral oil except for olive oil would do.