Food, Kerala cuisine, Seafood

Fish molee/moilee

Fish gravy for breakfast at most Kerala Syrian Christian household will be this mildly spiced fish molee as it pairs beautifully with bread, appam, idiyappam, puttu. The coconut milk in this dish makes it so creamy. This is a far cry from all the spicy non veg Syrian dishes. No wonder Non-Malayalee’s fall in love with this flavourful fish gravy. Gary from Master chef Australia is already in love with Kerala fish molee.

My mom usually makes this curry using Karemeen(pearlspot) or thin fish steaks. Her recipe calls for pre-‘frying’ the marinated fish, which helps hold fish shape while cooking. No thickening agents(flour, coriander powder) is used, just coconut milk – that’s what makes this dish lip smashing. Her fish molee has always been a hit at our family gatherings. Well looks like her recipe is not a secret anymore.



  • Fish steaks – 1/2 Kg
  • Turmeric- pinch
  • Green/bird’s eye chilli(Kanthari)- 3-5
  • Garlic – 6-8 clove
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Salt


  • Black Peppercorn – 12-15 whole
  • Cinnamon – 1″ 2-3 piece
  • Cardamom – 1-2
  • Clove – 2-3
  • Ginger – 1tsp finely chopped
  • Onion – 2 large thinly sliced
  • Green chilli – 5-6 slit
  • Coconut milk thick – 1 cup
  • Coconut milk thin – 1 1/2 to 2 cup
  • Vinegar – 1/4 tsp
  • Tomato – 1 circular slices 4-5mm thick
  • Salt
  • Oil – 3-4 Tbsp
  • Curry leaf – 2-3 sprig (must)

How to:

  1. Grind all the marinate ingredients. Marinate fish for 15-20 mins.
  2. In a non-stick pan – using 1-2 Tbsp oil – shallow roast the fish in medium flame; giving 2-3 mins for each side. The marinate masala should just change color and fish shouldn’t be fully cooked
  3. In same pan just brown both sides of tomato and keep aside.
  4. Add remaining oil in pan, add whole pepper corn . Once they start to splutter add other whole spices – cinnamon, clove, cardamom, saute for few seconds.
  5. Add onion, ginger, green chilli, curry leaf and saute till onion turn translucent.
  6. Add thin coconut milk, salt, vinegar bring it to boil then add fish. Let it simmer for 10-15 mins, till fish is cooked fully and the gravy has infused the flavor of fish and spices.
  7. Do not stir once fish is added, just swirl the pan.
  8. On low flame add thick coconut milk, swirl and switch off the flame once you see vapors from gravy, making sure not to boil(or milk will curdle).
  9. Add roasted tomato to gravy just after switching off. Swirl pan, cover and set aside for a while before serving (flavor from tomato to infuse).

Gravy will thicken as it cools. Increase the thick coconut milk quantity if you like more gravy. One coconut or 1 1/2 cup coconut grated will yield you the coconut milk needed for this.

Spices – especially pepper – roasted (without burning) in oil gives a nice flavor to curry.

If you want it to be more spicy increase number of green chilli and cinnamon.

Color of the gravy will change with turmeric quantity. I like mine to be a shade of cream than yellow. Can also replace black with white pepper.

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