Sunday, April 29, 2007

Pepper Fish Fry – Kuttanadan Special & An Inspiring Video Clip !

Act I: Scene I
A newly married couple comes to Chennai after a grand wedding to commence their much dreamed about life together…….the girl, though loveable is quite a spoilt one and one of her priceless possessions is a notebook, scribbled with some basic everyday recipes, which she prepared under the guidance of her mother and aunts just two days before marriage; but it is to be appreciated that she has a heart to learn cooking and make her husband happy….. Honeymoon days are going on… her advantage, she has the beginner‘s luck in the kitchen and everyday tries to whip up something and make it look edible and interesting when husband comes to dinette …..After a week of cooking mainly vegetarian dishes and managing with Mom and MIL's fish pickles, she thinks her life is smooth and can manage the show easily…….one evening, the ‘fish-aholic’ husband comes up with a very interesting idea, “Shall we buy some fish and make curry or fry?” …"hmm…not at all a bad idea”, says the girl, based on her experience in the kitchen and the newly acquired confidence. Both hit the famous Fish ‘O’ Fish in the neighborhood……….girl starts to get a bit uncomfortable now……some weird smell….the whole place STINKS !! she hesitates to enter the store…….husband makes all sugar-coated talks, trying to get her into the store….finally he loses patience and gives her A LOOK !! Girl gets the signal and very obediently, though with little hesitation, forces herself inside the store and makes the purchase ! Also she comes to the realization that life is not all about that honey dipped and sugar-coated words !!.

Act II: Scene I
The couple comes to Uncle Tom’s land after a short stay at Chennai, and life has been very good for both of them…. previously spoilt girl has now transformed into a perfect home-maker and a good wife who sure can host a decent dinner…. the couple makes adjustments and adapts to the new culture and life style but something seems to be missing …….somehow the bland tilapia fillets available in the stores do not bring smiles on their faces…..but as the saying goes, half a loaf of bread is always better than none, and hence they try to make adjustments…..years go by and one fine day, they happen to spot an International Store with Asian groceries in the radar and both decide to check out the store……on reaching there, the girl's face beams with glow and exuberance……the sight is incredible…. a big tank full of live fishes and lots of variety on the frozen section too and some of ‘em are varieties that are available back home in kerala!! You name it, it is there….Sardines, Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, King fish, Pomfret, Smelts, Shrimp, Crab and what not !! The whole scene appears to be someone seeing a light at the end of the tunnel or finding out the last clue in a treasure hunt or finding the treasure itself!! At that moment, the store gets their most loyal and most frequented seafood customers!!

-The End -

Are you still wondering who the main characters are ? :P If you are still having no clue, read more here.

Till my marriage, fish fry was something that looked reddish brown in colour. During my ‘irregular visits’ to the kitchen, I remember Mummy making a marinade with chili powder, pepper powder, turmeric, garlic paste et al….but after marriage, CJJ kept raving a lot about a particular type of fish fry, his grandma used to prepare and I wanted to get that recipe, mainly to impress him and show that I ‘can’ also cook and make it tasty! His grandma is from Kuttanadu, "the rice bowl of Kerala" a place near Alappuzha and though I have never been to Kuttanadu, CJJ has described the place so eloquently that, for me, this place is all about narrow canals and small rivers… lush green paddy fields……locals traversing in small country boats……. men herding a flock of ducks and the tail wagging and quacking of ducks ..:) and for many others, it might be the delectable duck roasts and crispy ‘Podimeen’ fry (a small variety of fish), Meen Pollichathu (fish wrapped in banana leaves) et al ….:) Anyway, his loving grandma was ready to share her secret to taste; fresh pungent peppercorns ground with a stone mortar and pestle and then mixed with the fresh ginger and garlic paste and yes, it is quite luscious. I got to taste the one with fresh peppercorns last time when we went home. But since the fresh peppercorns were something that’s unavailable here, I substitute with dried ones and still it was appealing to us.

Ingredients (Approx) :-
  • 4-5 steak pieces of King fish/Seer fish/or any fatty fish, washed and cleaned
  • 4tsp freshly ground pepper powder OR preferably ground paste of fresh peppercorns
  • 1tsp fresh garlic paste
  • 1tsp fresh ginger paste
  • 2tsp lemon juice
  • 2-3tsp water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup oil for frying, preferably coconut oil :)
Mix all the ingredients and make a thick paste; marinate the fish evenly on both sides and keep it for atleast 2 hours to let the fish slices absorb the marinade. Heat oil in a flat non-stick pan and when it is steaming hot, place the fish gently and shallow fry at medium heat by flipping each side when it is done; do not crowd the pan and give some room for each slice; The cooking time varies depending the thickness of the slices and also depend on how crispy and firm one wants it to be. Overcooking the fish will make it very crisp; those who want it firm but soft and moist, may remove the cooked pieces when the oil stops spluttering.

For more of grandma's Kuttanadan recipes, CLICK HERE.

Here is a link that I came across recently... Thought it's quite a novel idea and inspiring as well. Click Here...

UPDATE: I have posted grandma's original version of this recipe, using fresh green peppercorns HERE.

No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.


  1. Super Creativity,Feel like fried fish in Kuttanadan Kayal...CJJ anagane thurippichu nokkiyo??I can imagine ur face (hahaha)..Recipe of my pepperfish fry is also similar but ur fried fish looks beautiful than mine..Next time I will put more masala on them..Really Enjoyed ur writing..Waiting for next episode!!

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  3. Ha ha ha, nice story Shn... :)
    That fish fry looks super delish... I haven't had fish fry this style with pepper... Love those little fishermen in the picture too... Awesome presentation..

  4. Hahahaha...... Loved reading it. :) And those fisherman are so cute!!!! Where did you get them from????

    I am a vegetarian so can't really compliment you on the recipe..... but the presentation is fantastic!!!! Wonderfully contrasting colours!!! :)

  5. in singapore there's a restaurant run by indians called 'annapoorna', which is similar to seva cafe in concept and function.

  6. Fish o' Fish? Where did you live in chennai? I often use this marinade, but not the coconut oil.

  7. Mishy, Again who are those wonderful couple? :))):)). Itt was fun reading. Your fish fries look mouthwatering. The presentation with those little fisherman. Beautiful!!!!
    Kuttanadan kunjayille....something something:)) thithi thaara...

  8. fantastic!
    sammathichu thannirikkunnu..
    really suits to kuttanaadan memories..

  9. Nice story shn and nicer dish.Looks mouthwatering.Slurp!!

    OMG!!! look at those monkeys fishing for fish fry!!Hilarious.You write well,love reading it:))

  10. ha ha ha... life is not all about that honey dipped and sugar-coated words !! ha ha ha... u hit the right chord;)
    superb presentation shn... cant comment on the dish though;) but girl, u do know how to be creative:)
    he he he..tell ashakka that i am not among the the monkeys who is fishing for fish here;)

  11. Ha ha..good write up Shn...So your Asian store loves you then :)

    Your presentation is beautiful, lovely idea to place the fish on those oranges, the color contrast is great

    For us Bongs, we always fry fish before making the curry. But we fry the fish with just s little turmeric and salt. But the fishy folks that we are before putting it in the gravy I manage to eat a couple of the simply fried fish :)

  12. Beautiful writeup!wonderful presentation!
    Love those fishermen?Simply Great Shn!

  13. Scene 1 :
    Fishy Fishy story - bery good. all smiles.

    Scene 2 :
    Link Seva cafe - All Claps.

  14. Oh are so lucky to get fresh fish and that too what we get in kerala.
    The scenes unfolded very well...The two fishermen look so cute. It's lunch time and i want atleast one fish piece, to have with rice :P

  15. Superb Shn...both the write up and the presentation...

    Sandeepa,we too fry the fish in the same way before putting into any gravy, and hubby is a great one at lapping up pieces of fried fish...

  16. nice photo.where di u get the little monkeys?:)
    every wrote a screnplay?

  17. hey the pics look awesome. lovely and cute fishermen. lovely presentation.

  18. Shn, you are so good at this. I loved the write up and the food-styling for the photograph. I love fried fish and I will definitely try the recipe you have there.

    On another note. Can you please contact me as soon as possible by email? I need to ask your permission about something. Thanks.

  19. nice coincedence that I made fish today..but nothin spectacular..just the simple way..well ofcoz with some beer too!!

    but i cant believe that you were not a expert cook before gettin married..congrats for the effort u have put in..

  20. and well fish fry with coconut oil gives an altogether different taste which i understand now.. ;-P

  21. Hey lovely and tempting..when will i master all the fish dishes .. very soon !! hey i think the curry i asked for is called as "pachaa moluku aracha curry" ..not too sure of the spelling.. hubby dear made it and it was yummy ... its fish cooked in a mixture of coconut+tumeric+Green chillie and spices .. and it was gr8... !

  22. Fresh peppercons!!!!!! too bad we can't get them here...
    what a great story! I was sweating with you while you refused to go into that stinky fish store :) :)

  23. Hi again Shn -- really enjoyed reading this, and I just love the little fishermen in cucumber boats! So creative!! :)

  24. Hi Shn,
    Great writeup..Its was interesting and nice.

    Fish fry looks amazing and presentation is absolutely excellent....

    I liked your creative presentation.

  25. Cute pictures Shn... enjoyed reading ur story... ur way of presentation is lovely and creative.

  26. superb write up....
    and aadi pooli recipe

  27. 'o' fish..i have been there . were did u live in chennai?? and the story is more similer to mine..don't have to blame inji's confussion!!!!!!he.he

    i just loved the pic shn..

  28. where did you get that idea of little fisherman ...soo cute...the fish fry sounds delicious..

  29. nice write up Shn:) and the fish no words....I am drooling all over it....yum yum

  30. Lovely presentation really i appreciate it.Looks great.

  31. The colours in these photos are brilliant, it looks wonderful!

  32. Hi Shn (?), thanks a lot for your very nice and encouraging comment on my blog ! Yes it's really a passion for me to discover your traditional cooking which is now part of my daily life ! ;)
    I discover your blog which is really nice and full of the kind of recipes I love ! ;)
    Waiting for the next post...

  33. Forgot to tell you, fish fry is my favourite, my MIL makes it everyday only for me when I'm back to Cochin ! I was never able to make the same here in France ! (mainly because of the different fish)

  34. Kitchenfairy, hmm...thuruppichu thanneya nokkiye :) Enjoyed the compliments, thanks :)

    Sig, Thanks dear....try this one, it's easy, isn't it ?

    Coffee, I collected the fishermen from one of our trips to San Francisco where I found this at the China town :) Thanks a lot for the generous compliments :))

    Bee, Yes, I have heard of this Annapoorna but had no idea that their functioning is based on such a concept. Thanks for the info !

    Sra, hmm...I stayed at mainly Anna nagar & KK Nagar :)

    Reena, ohh....thanks a lot dear :) ayyeh..paatu muzhuvan ariyalla alle :P

    Seena, thanks so muchhhh :)

    Asha, ohhh nooo...they are not monekys....they are Chinese fishermen :P I am happy that you enjoyed the story :)

    Sia, heheh...I just told Ashakka that they were not monkeys but Chinese fishermen ;) hmm...creativity....most of the time it comes out of necessity, atleast in my case ...I did not know how to make an ordinary fish fry visually appealing to the reader, so came up with such a presentation....really felt good reading all those compliments from everyone :)

    Sandeepa, hahahh...thats cool one :) In Kerala, for some preparations, we do fry the fish a bit....especially for making fish biriyani et al. Yes, yes, our Asian store people knows us now :)

    Bharathy, Thank you soo much :)

    Inji Pennu, hehehh....bery bery thanks :)

    Pravs, fry with rice is really superb combo...u can have 'just' one ;)

    Sunita, Thanks :)

    Mallugirl, noooo...they are not monkeys dear, they are Chinese it from china town, SFO :) hmmm....screenplay....nope :)))

    Sharmi, Thanks dear:)

    Cynthia, I hope you like it's very easy though. Really appreciate your support and compliments :)

    Mathew, fish fry and beer...WOW :) Btw, I was neither a cook then, before marriage nor an expert now :)

    Vanita, hey, why dont you blog that preparation....I have never tasted that dish!

    Gattina, hahahah...that was funny dear :) had a good laugh reading your comment :)

    Linda, thanks dear....everyone seems to have liked the fishermen:)

    Usha, Prema, thanks a lot :)

    Mallurecipes, thank you and welcome to Mishmash!

    Mankea, ohh myy....!!! now the stories are similar too!! :) I stayed mainly at Anna Nagar and KK Nagar....Were you there at Chennai ?

    N, sure, I will pass on the simplest recipes ..all the best with your portal :)

    Sushma, I had those fishermen with me, so thought I will use 'em :)

    Priya, Soumya, Brilynn, Thanks so much :)

    Charline, heyyy...nice to see you here.....hope you try some of my Kerala specials.....and hey, eat lots of that fish fry when you go to Cochin next time :)


  35. thank you for contributing to simple cooking portal. Check out your entry at

  36. Shn, Thx for stopping by my blog, Loveeeedddd ur dish, I prepared it yday & it was delicious, tho I didnt add as much as ginger & garlic as u mentioned the end result was very tasty. Looking forward to many more recipes like this from u.....Thx Shn.

  37. Shn...thats a lovely creative looking dish....wonder if anybody had the heart to disturb the decoration...

    will try out the recipe and let you know...

  38. Made this fish fry for lunch today. Loved the peppery taste on tilapia. Satisfied the taste buds of a fish addict :)

  39. hi a newcomer to ur blog.loved ur recipes and their presentation :)i grind onion and redchillies and marinate the fish with it and lil salt and chillipwder.

    btw it surprised me when u said u lived in kknagar.i lived cry close by kk nagar fish o fish :)

    wish u come up with more recipes.keep uo ur good work


  40. Hello Shn,
    Pretty nice one..I jus happened to see the blog yesterday and u really have some good recipes out there...I m jus very very new to cooking and jus like u say, I feel I have some beginners luck...Next year I m going home after more than 2 yrs and I really want 2 surprise my mom..;)...really looking forward to try ur recipes for doing that

  41. Thanks for writing this.

  42. hai Shn,
    i tried ur toddy special meen curry..really really wonderful....I've no words to say..nyway really really thank u...I can tell everybody that if u people try with the exact recipe..u never try anther fish recipes.. that much tasty meen curry.. thank u so..much..

  43. I tried this recipe and it turned out great! Even my ABCD husband liked it :D

  44. Hey nice article, recipe n awesome pics... Keep the awesomness going...

  45. Nice write fry looks yum.

  46. tastes horrible.....please people dont maqke it..

  47. Hi Shn .. came across your blog through Ria's ..
    Wonderful blog you have here ...
    Awesome pepper fish fry recipe .. and love your write up too ..

  48. fantastic recipe...we just made it tonight and it was absolutely lovely!

    I took some photographs and gave you full credit for the recipe :)

    being an avid fish fan...this is heaven to me!


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