Saturday, 31 December 2011




     1)    Sardines (young or full grown) – 1 kg.

     2)    Hot red chili powder – 2½ teaspoons
     3)    Hot green chilies – 4 Nos.
     4)    Ginger – 1 inch piece
     5)    Tomatoes – 200 gm.
     6)    Onion – 200 gm.
     7)    Tender curry leaves – 2 sprigs
     8)    Turmeric powder – ¾ teaspoon
     9)    Tamarind – a gooseberry sized bit (1 inch diametre)
     10)     Coconut oil – 2 teaspoons
     11)     Salt – 1½ teaspoons

To Cook:

          Soak the tamarind in 100 ml. of water. Peel and finely chop the ginger. Chop the tomatoes and the onion (you can chop to any size in the style of your choice). Slit each of the green chilies lengthwise on one side. Select a vessel for the curry and tip in the chopped vegetables together with the ginger and the chilies. Put in the chili powder, the turmeric powder, the salt and the curry leaves.

          Squeeze the tamarind nicely with your fingers. Sieve the tamarind juice and pour it in the vessel. Set aside.

          Scrape off the scales of the sardines. Cut off the head, the fins and the tail. Pull out the guts. If you are cooking mature sardines, collect the roe (egg sack) and the milt (soft roe of male fish) for including in the curry. Soak the fish in a solution of 30 ml. of vinegar in 1500 ml. of water for 20 minutes. This will get rid of all the gall and dirt from the inside of the fish as well as remove strong smells if any. Wash in 2 or 3 changes of clear water, drain and tip the fish into the vessel with the vegetables.

          Pour in enough water to immerse the sardines. Set the vessel on high heat. As soon as it comes to a boil, turn down the heat. Taste and add more salt if required. After boiling, cook for just 5 minutes on low heat. Stir only with a lightweight ladle to avoid bruising the fish. Dribble in the coconut oil and switch off the heat.

          Cover with a lid and let the curry rest for at least an hour. Serve with a heap of rice.



1)    You can make meen mulakittathe (fish chili curry) not only with sardines but with any other fish, shellfish or crustaceans too.

2) Mathi mulakittathe (sardine chili curry) and Ayala mulakittathe (mackarel chili curry) are sold in most teashops and hotels all over Kerala.

3) Meen mulakittathe (fish chili curry) always tastes best after resting for 5 or more hours.

4) Most Keralite peasants love to eat meen mulakittathe with breakfast, lunch and supper since it is healthy, tasty, cheap and easy to prepare.

5) If thicker gravy is desired, you can add some fresh tomato paste at the time of adding water to immerse the sardines.

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