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Fish Kuzhambu

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Fish Kuzhambu is the most famous sea food main dish for us. When compared to crab and prawns, there are more people like fish. Fish must be bought fresh to enjoy the great taste of fish.

For this recipe, we bought fish directly from a fisherman in Chennai - ECR.
The fish is called Kaalan in Tamil language.
Check out fish dictionary for the meaning in English/other languages

We have used fish head to use Fish Kuzhambu. If you are planning to use fish head you must ensure it has some flesh in it else the taste will differ.

Fish Kuzhambu is an excellent dish that goes well with steamed rice for lunch and Idly or Dosai for breakfast.

Let us see tradional way of making Meen Kuzhambu here. We are going to use traditional earthenware, called man satti, for making Fish Kuzhambu.

To fry

Before you start cooking, let us keep all the things ready.
We will need cleaned and cut fish, chopped tomatoes, onion, green-chilli, crushed garlic, curry leaves, tamarind juice extract and vadagam.

Clean and cut the pieces of fish in water. For this recipe, we have used head of the Kaalan fish for Kuzhambu and body for making fish fry.

Clean the tomato, onion. Peel the garlic and keep it ready.
Photo representing the amount of tomato, onions and garlic needed for this recipe

Chopped Tomatoes:
Tomato cut

Photo of cut onions, crushed garlic and curry leaves for making fish kolambu

Extract Tamarind juice by soaking Tamarind in water for a few minutes

Split green chilli vertically into 2

Photo of Vadagam used for tempering.



Heat the vessel for cooking, the earthenware, man chatti for 2 min in medium flame.


Now do the tempering process.
Heat oil, add vadagam when oil is hot.
This is a very important step.
Ensure not to over cook or burn the vadagam.


Now fry the chopped onions, crushed garlic and chopped green chilli along with curry leaves.

Once the onions turn brown, add the chopped tomatoes.


Add tamarid juice extracted in Step 1.


Add masala powders and salt mentioned in the ingredient section.

Mix them well. Add more water if required, which depends on the thickness of the Kuzhambu.


Close the man satti with a lid. Any plate will do the job.

Ensure to leave a little gap. Let this cook in low flame for about 15-20 min.


Optionally, you can add cut green mango (seasonal) to the Kuzhambu. Adding green mango creates a wonderful sweet and sour taste and makes the fish kuzhambu a mouth watering dish.

If you are adding green mango, ensure the quantity is limited as too much will make the dish sour. For this recipe, see below image for the quantity of cut green mango we are adding.
small sized cut green-mango

Photo of green mango added in the fish kulambu


Now add the fish.
Note that, this is the last step.
Fish is very delicate and it must be cooked last.
Let this cook for about 5 min.


Goregous looking meen kuzhambhu / fish kuzhambu is ready to be served from traditional earthenware, the man satti.

Check out more photos of Fish Kuzhambu.

Photo of Fish Kuzhambu (Meen Kuzhambu in Tamil) with Green Mango:

Photo of Fish Kuzhambu (Meen Kuzhambu in Tamil) with Green Mango on Steamed Rice:

Popular side dish for Fish Kuzhambu includes:

Fish Kulambu as such is delicious. Meaning no side dish is needed. Just add Kulambu to hot steamed rice and eat along with the fish in the Kulambu.

Vegetarian side dish:
Potato fry, Plantain fry, Kootu, Keerai kadayal. If no vegetable is available just appalam or vathal makes a good side dish combo for Kulambu.

Non-Vegetarian side dish:
Chicken deep fry, Fish fry, Mutton fry.

Other names/spelling variations of Kuzhambu:
Meen Kulambu, Mean Kuzhambhu, Mean Kulambhu, Hot and sour fish curry, South Indian Fish curry, Meen Kozhambu, Kolambu, Colambu, Fish Colombu

Leftover tips:
Leftover Mean Kuzhambu is probably the best left over food of all times. Fish Kuzhambu left over is so delicious that its praise can be seen in many songs and movies too. There is a famous move called "Mullum Malarum" starring, Tamil Super star, Rajnikanth, where the heroine sings, "Nethu vacha meen kuzhambu innum irukudhaiya". Meaning Yesterday's left over fish kuzhambu is still there to enjoy eating.

The leftover mean kulambu goes well with Idly or Dosai.
It adds more taste to the left over sadham which is pazhaya sooru.
It also goes well with hot steamed rice.

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