Chepala Pulusu / Fish Curry

Today I made a traditional Andhra recipe - Chepala Pulusu. This recipe calls for fresh fish as fresh always add more flavor to the dish. Chepala pulusu is fish cooked in tangy tamarind gravy and fragrant ground spices. I have to say, this fish curry makes me lick my fingers every single time I eat it…
This dish taste the very best, the day after it is cooked :). The secret behind that is the fish sits/soaks in the tamarind-spices broth and absorb all the good flavors. So if you are patient enough, cook it and let it sit over night. If you are like me let it sit for 2 or 3 hours and enjoy…
The recipe below is from my mom with one or two of my additions. Give it a try :)


8 to 10 medium size fish pieces (2 to 3 fillets depending on the size or about 3 pounds) (I used Tilapia)
3 tbsp oil
2 large onions chopped real fine
2 tbsp ginger - garlic paste
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
2 tbsp red chill powder (adjust per spice level)
1 big lemon sized tamarind or 2 tbsp thick tamarind paste
4 green chillies
4 to 5 curry leaves
Salt for taste
2 tsp garam masala 

For Tempering

1 tsp black cumin seeds (Shahi Jeera)
1 tsp cumin seeds
t tsp fenugreek seeds (menthulu)
3 cloves
small piece of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
4 curry leaves
1 tsp Turmeric
1 elaichi crushed

For Garnish

hand full of Coriander leaves


Beat a cup of yogurt and add 4 to 5 cups of water and salt to it to form a thin liquid. Drop the raw fish pieces into the liquid and give them a good rinse in that liquid. Discard the liquid and run the fish pieces under cold water. This will take away the smell off the fish. Drain the pieces and keep aside.
Soak tamarind in 2 cups of warm water. Let is stand for 15 minutes and then extract as much juice as you can. Save the juice and discard the pulp.
Heat oil in a wide thick bottomed sauce pan. Add the tempering and let them splutter. Add in the curry leaves and let them splutter.
Now add the chopped onions, slit green chillies, salt and fry on medium heat till the onions turn transparent and light golden brown in color. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add in the coriander powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder, salt and fry for a minute. 
Add the tamarind juice and bring it to boil.  Let it cook  on high flame till the  oil starts separating on top  and till the froth on top disappears, At this point check the taste and adjust the seasonings. If in case you are adding more tamarind pulp let it cook for 5 minutes just till the rawness disappears
Stir in the garam masala and carefully place the fish pieces in the pan just in a single layer. Make sure that the fish pieces are immersed in the gravy. Cook covered for 8 to 10 minutes just until the gravy is thick and oil floats on the top. Once you drop the fish into the gravy do not mix with a spoon. Just hold the handle of the pan and rotate it gently. If the fish is fully immersed in gravy as I said earlier you do not have to flip them. But worst case scenario if you want to flip the pieces do it just once and do it with a wide spatula so you don't break the fish pieces. 

Turn off the flame, garnish with coriander leaves. and let the curry sit on the counter over night or for at least 2 to 3 hours before serving so that the spices and tamarind juice will be absorbed by the fish.


As fish tends to be more delicate do not mix with a spoon once you drop the fish pieces into the gravy.
Do not use Salmon for this curry. Tilapia or Catfish or king fish or Mackerel or any kind of firm fish will work.
Let sit the curry before serving for atleast 2 to 3 hours for best taste.


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