Meen Moilee | Kerala Fish Molee

A speciality fish curry with coconut milk…




I have been itching to do a book review on the blog since a very long time. For this reason, I had made this dish and kept it in my drafts as well. But as life played its game, the book review kept being pushed ahead and this time, I couldn’t let it slide to the next month. If I do that, then I wouldn’t take interest in exploring my other book and posting a review on the blog. Off late, I haven’t been buying cookbooks, but I still have a lot of them that are untouched. They are more like display material for me, that I love to have a look at and smile at myself. Yeah, one of my weirdest habits… 😉 With a little bit of shame, the last book review appeared exactly a year ago! I have to buckle up myself and push myself forward, for sure…


Penguin Books India have a lot of cookbooks that are titled “The Essentials of ***** Cooking”. The series has a number of them dedicated state wise. The book I am reviewing today is one among them. Of course, when you saw the post titled, you must have understood that the book is a Kerala based one.



“The Essential Kerala Cookbook” starts off with the picture of a lipsmacking fish curry and an “ara muri” (half shell” of coconut. There is nothing much about the author Vijayam Kannampilly, except that he is an artist and stays in Kochi. From what can be understood, the book is an amalgamation of recipes collected from various people spread across Kerala and they are mentioned in the acknowledgments section.


The book starts off with a few introductions, like the cuisine, the dishes, the cooking methods and some basically used recipes. It is then followed by recipes divided by categories. The book has covered a lot of basic Keralite recipes that is usually known including the varutharacha (roasted coconut) curries, breakfast items and payasams. While some recipes have a small introduction para, most of them really don’t. This Meen Moilee recipe was simply mentioned as “a Christian dish”. Another interesting thing of this book was that certain recipes had additional versions too, to show that the same dish can be made in different tastes, just like this dish. The whole book is in black and white and has no pictures, which is a disappointment. So basically, the use of this book is like reference, which it does a fair job, I felt…




When I landed up with some fresh karimeen, my head was only singing to me to make some fish moilee. Usually karimeen tastes the best when made into pollichath, but this is another way to enjoy it. Moilee is a coconut milk based fish curry which is usually a part of the cuisine from the souther Kerala areas, where there is a sizeable Christian population. Most the time, the moilee is usually a watered down fish curry with little fish and a lot of gravy, making it one of the best curry to have with puttu, ari dosa or idiyappam. However, I wanted to make it for rice, and this version in the book seemed to be perfect.


Like I mentioned, there were two versions in the book – one with minimal ingredients and this was the other one. The main thickness in the curry comes from ground aromatic paste, heavy on coriander. That explains why this moilee may look different from the others I have tried. This curry was perfect with rice and a vegetable stir fry on the side. The moilee is always made with thick fish, so you can use the likes of king fish and pomfret to make this. You can even use prawns in this curry, if that is what you have. If you are looking for something different to go with your afternoon rice, then mark this moilee to try!




Meen Moilee | Kerala Fish Molee

Course Fish
Cuisine Kerala
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Author Rafeeda AR


  • 500 gm kingfish, cut can use king fish or pomfret
  • Coconut oil as needed
  • 2 onions sliced, meduim
  • 3 green chilies minced
  • 1 inch ginger grated
  • 2 tomatoes chopped, meduim
  • 1 stalk curry leaves
  • 1 cup coconut milk not too thick nor thin


  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper powder
  • Water as needed


  • Wash and drain the fish. Mix together the marinade ingredients and rub onto the fish. Allow it to marinate for 20 minutes.
  • Grind the ingredients for the paste adding sufficient water. Make sure it is smooth and thick.
  • In a pan, heat sufficient coconut oil. Fry the fish on both sides till golden, not necessarily fully cooked. Drain and set aside. Reserve the marinade.
  • In the same oil, add the onion, green chillies and ginger, and saute till wilted.
  • Add the tomatoes and curry leaves and cook till wilted and slightly browned.
  • Add the curry paste and saute for two minutes.
  • Add the fish along with half cup of water, mixed into the remaining marinade. Bring to boil and cook on low flame for around five minutes.
  • Now add the coconut milk, swirl the pan and switch off. Do not heat.
  • Serve with rice, appam, idiyappam, etc.

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