Varutharacha Meen Curry ~ Malabar Fish Curry with Roasted Coconut



If you are from Malabar, then you definitely need to know your fish curry well. Making the mulakittathu – the red fish curry, which I have already shared two versions here and here, is literally a cake walk but getting the varutharachathu right is a little difficult task. “Varutharachathu” literally means “roasted and ground”. The base of such curries is a roasted-till-brown coconut along with some spices, and ground till smooth. I already have a few varutharacha curries on the blog:

Varutharacha Erachi Curry

Varutharacha Urulakizhangu Curry

Varutharacha Kozhi Curry


I have always felt that getting the consistency right for the fish curry is important. As for the meat curries, you can add water and dilute it, but for fish, the flavor itself goes off, especially since we add turmeric. The next is the challenge of making limited amount, since I serve folks who have pigeon stomachs. πŸ˜• How much little I make, there are still leftovers and finally I have to have them over a few days to finish them, nobody would cooperate with me in this regard. How much I hate that! I have watched umma make this curry so effortlessly, but never with quantity. I tried making it by referring to Ummi Abdullah’s Malabar Cookery but my curry became so pasty, but tasted amazing. I then twisted and tweaked the same recipe a couple of times till I got the consistency that we loved. Not thick, not too thin, with the correct flavors of the roasted masala and the tamarind. I had to record it so that I can make it again. Alas, I perfected it the week before the doctor converted me into a vegan! πŸ˜€ So I can’t wait to make them again once my medication ends soon, InShaAllah… I made the curry in umma’s small chatti and this was perfect for both of us and the kids, as we eat very little rice. πŸ™‚ Off to the recipe…





Varutharacha Meen Curry ~ Malabar Fish Curry with Roasted Coconut

Course Fish
Cuisine Malabar
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 -3
Author Rafeeda


  • 2 large sardines or 4 small sardines, cut
  • A lime size tamarind soaked in 1/2 cup hot water for 15 minutes
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 2 green chillies minced
  • 3/4 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 to mato chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Curry leaves for garnish
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup grated coconut
  • 2 shallots chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cup water for grinding


  • For the ground masala, Heat oil in a small saucepan. Roast the coconut, shallots and fennel till browned. Ensure not to burn.
  • Allow to cool and then grind into a paste with the water.
  • Heat oil in a chatti (earthen pot). Add the fenugreek seeds. As it starts smelling fragrant, add in the onion and chillies and saute till wilted.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and saute till the raw smell is gone.
  • Squeeze out the tamarind well and pour the water into the mixture. Add another 1/2 cup of water and squeeze the tamarind again. Pour the water in and discard the tamarind.
  • Add in the powders and tomato, mix well and allow the mixture to boil. Add salt.
  • Add the fish and cook till done.
  • At this stage, add the coconut paste and simmer for five minutes. Add the curry leaves and switch off.
  • Serve hot with steaming rice and any vegetarian side!

Join the Conversation

  1. The color of you curry looks perfect. I really need to try this one. As usual…excellent photography

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Shanaz…

  2. Yummy curry !!….one plate with steam rice parcel pls????….my mom too use to make fish curry but with cumin seeds…fish at my house now is usually pan fried …no takers for curry ????

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      We hardly use cumin in our food, it’s always fennel… Even in my house fried goes well but sometimes I like curry… Thanks a lot Nusrath… πŸ™‚

  3. Ahhh I love this meen curry.True getting right consistency is imp.Fennel arakumo I have to try that.
    Oh my mind is already scanning the freezer already.. .. πŸ™‚

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Meena… πŸ™‚

  4. Sardines are my favourite and I have it only at my moms and that too not in a curry. Yeah, I have fish only in fried form as I hate the slimy skin et al in the curry. So you know fish is never cooked in my kitchen but what I love about our varutharacha curries is the rich coconut and spices that takes anything to a next level. Looking at the chatti, I am hoping I can fetch one this time when I go home. Some beef fry in chatti… yum. So who gets to scrape and add some rice in the chatti and have it straight from it?

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Anything made in a chatti is yum… Normally I am the one who cleans up the chatti… hehe… thanks a lot Fami…

  5. Ya… right consistency is very important for fish. Wow…!! really mouthwatering here…!! Its been a while I made varutharacha meen curry. U are tempting me to make it πŸ™‚

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Remya… πŸ™‚

  6. Mouthwatering fish curry

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thanks a lot Beena…

  7. Duplicating what mom’s make is quite tough , they are queens of cooking with no measurements…curry looks yummy tasty

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Habeeba…

  8. My comfort food always.. This is a treat to my tummy !!

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Sharmila…

  9. What I am craving right now! Lovely curry. Rafeeda!!! Oh….butter murukku was my first murukku making attempt up there….????…if I can…you too can….????

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Bharathy… πŸ™‚

  10. oh wow, I want some!!! looks yummm… can I use any kind of fish?

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Yes, you can use any fish of your choice! Thanks a lot Nammi…

  11. I know.. Vautharacha curry is something that I too struggle. Still have not mastered it though πŸ™‚ Yours looks perfect in that small manchatti with the right colour πŸ™‚

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      I too struggled with it a lot Chitz, sometimes even testing my patience! πŸ˜€ Thank you so much dear… πŸ™‚

  12. MOuth watering here
    pls send a parcel

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thanks a lot Jaleelakka…

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