Kerala Fish Curry (Meen Moilee)

This popular dish, meen moilee, is from the state of Kerala on the southwest coast of India. Serve with basmati rice. In this country, curry leaves, cardamom pods, and black mustard seeds are sold in some Indian markets and online.

Serves: 4Hands-on: 35 minutesTotal: 55 minutesDifficulty: Easy

Serves: 4


  • 4 whitefish filets (such as tilapia, catfish, or cod)
  • 1¼ tsp. turmeric powder, divided
  • 6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 2 green cardamom pods, bruised
  • 2 cloves
  • 8 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh gingerroot
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 can (14 oz.) light coconut milk


  • Place the fish filets in a bowl. Rub the filets well with 1 teaspoon turmeric and set aside for about 10 minutes. Rinse the filets and pat dry.
  • In a medium nonstick skillet, heat 4 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 filet at a time and shallow-fry until brown on both sides. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Continue until all the filets are fried. Set aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat the remaining oil. Add the mustard seeds, cardamom, and cloves. As soon as they begin to sputter, add the curry leaves, onions, and ginger; sauté for 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions are well browned.
  • Reduce heat. Add the salt; red chili,¼ tsp. turmeric, and coriander powder; sauté for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and simmer for about 10 minutes. Don’t let the coconut milk boil.
  • Add the fried fish to the coconut curry and spoon the sauce over the fish. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until the fish is completely heated through. Serve hot.