Meen Kozhambu - Fish Stew

A Kozhambu (can also be spelled Kuzhambu) is a gravy that accompanies the main carbohydrate of a meal – or in this variation with fish –  the protein.

A Kozhambu can be like a broth, very thin and flowing, or thicker like a gravy but not as thick as a kootu or stew. It may have vegetables, or not, coconut or not, and dried lentil balls or dried vegetables or not. Tamarind is essential and it may be quite spice laden as well. Dal is not usually a major ingredient.

Grande Bay Resort and Spa’s executive chef Dhiraj says all fish stews taste better the next day. That makes this dish a great make-ahead meal for entertaining or just enjoying with your family.

Meen Kozhambu – Fish Stew Recipe



1 (14 ounce) block of tamarind pulp
6 cups water
¼ cup sesame oil (gingelly)
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
5 grams kalpasi (stone algae)
300 grams chopped shallots
3 green chilies, slit
15 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon ginger paste
½ teaspoon salt (plus to taste)
Kashmiri chili powder
10 grams turmeric
20 grams ground coriander
300 grams chopped fresh tomato
1 cup water
2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
2.2 lbs (1 kg) firm fish – (halibut, red snapper or seer) – cut in bite-size pieces
1 Tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaves


  1. Place the tamarind pulp and water in saucepan on medium heat. Slowly break up the pulp and stir until it is completely apart then strain through a sieve. Reserve the tamarind water. Add the pulp back to the pot, add another 2 cups of water and repeat pressing it through the sieve. Discard the pulp now and reserve the combined tamarind water.
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a kadai (wok) and add the mustard, fennel and fenugreek seeds and cook until the seeds pop and splutter in the pan.
  3. Add the kalpasi, chopped onions, green chilies and garlic cloves, cook until the onions are golden brown – 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the ginger paste, salt, chili powder, turmeric, and ground coriander and cook another 2 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato and cook until softened then add the reserved tamarind water and cook until the oil separates.
  6. Add 1 cup water, bring to a boil and reduce until the sauce is thick.
  7. Taste the sauce and season with more salt to taste.
  8. Add the curry leaves and fish pieces, cover with a lid and poach for 5 minutes or until cooked through.
  9. Serve hot garnished with fresh coriander leaves.

Thanks for trying this recipe.

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