Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pacha-kurumulaku Arachu Meen Varuthathu – Grandma’s original recipe for Kuttanadan Pepper Fish Fry

...a smell I had never sensed yet transported me to a place I have never been………a taste and flavor completely unknown yet easily conquered my taste buds……. a dish I had never tasted/seen yet recreated in our kitchen translating the words of an old woman - like “ mole….oru nullu manja podi……. lesham injeem veluthulleem…kurachu pacha kurumulaku kallil vechu chathachathu…...” - at the other end of the phone, sitting miles away from us, at the small village of Kainakary in Kuttandadu, Kerala….that was pretty much the story behind the Pepper Fish Fry I had blogged long back….and also the story behind the other five recipes labeled under Kuttandan Recipes which I learned from CJJ’s grandma who had played a big role in developing the food enthusiast in CJJ during his adolescence and youth.

In my earlier post, Pepper Fish Fry- Kuttanadan Special, I had mentioned that “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.

True, fresh peppercorns are a luxury at my corner of the world but at times I get lucky …….and my lucky stars winked at me last week and I got to lay my hands on some fresh peppercorns and the rest is history a delicious fish fry and a blog post!!

  • 17 medium size sardines/chaala/maththi or any other fish of your choice & size
  • 4 medium strings of fresh green peppercorns/pacha-kurumulaku
  • 3 cloves of garlic, medium size ( adjust as per your taste and strength of garlic)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 4-5 Curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Coconut oil for frying
  • Stripe off the peppercorns from its spikes; grind peppercorns along with ginger, garlic , turmeric and salt to a thick paste; tear off the curry leaves and mix well with the marinade and adjust salt. Make slits on the fish and marinate the fish evenly on both sides and keep it for 30 minutes to 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 low-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.
You may also check a handful of recipes I have learned from CJJ’s grandma:

Karimeen Pappas Beef Stew Chemmeen Varattiyathu-Prawn Roast Mashed Tapioca & Fish Curry Chicken Roast - Kuttanadan Style Pepper Fish Fry

For more , Check Recipe Index


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  1. Look at the freshness of those green peppercorns! Whenever I visit your blog, I wish I could eat all the food you cooked!

  2. You would not believe when i say I have not had challa in a year. I never make them here. I think if i make them daughter and hubby willrun a mile saying it smells.
    You post takes me back to my choldhood too.

  3. WOW..very the pic.

  4. Snaps r really fab.....I mean it luks absoulutely real unlike most other food portfolio pics whr whipped cream is shaving cream kind of crap !!!!
    I m frm Kainakary this is a testimonial from a true blue Kuttanadan grl whose very blood cell is made of meen fry - u hv made very mom, sister, grandma and even kaalu shaap owners (who are by the way culiniary demigods by themselves)of Kuttanaadu proud.....
    Just a tip : Taste can be enhanced and oil used can be reduced by wrapping fish in plantain leaf and griddling it on a tava and later shallow fryng it in oil....Doing this nt only seals on juices of the fish inside bt reduces oil used drastically.....

  5. Btw can u try and get kuttanadan duck roast recipe from ur grandma....
    Tht wuld b really wonderful...Thnxx a ton....

  6. ahoo.kothipichu enne kollathe ente karaleeee...

  7. Hi Shn,

    Pics look awesome and the mathi fry, I wish I could have some today for lunch with some kachiya moru :)
    I have had the Pacha-kurumulaku pickle but the meen varuthathu with green kurumulaku is something new to me.I wonder where we can get it here in the US of A. I think will have to wait till my next trip to kerala. Good one!

    - Reena

  8. Mish mash..pathrathil vannallo..if u havent seen it

    Pinney, where on earth do u get such nice chaala in US??Im dying for it..:(

  9. Thulasy Mary ElizabethSeptember 14, 2009 at 12:54 PM

    Excellent..........Oh God! I miss my home.My sister used to pray like this when she was a little girl.Swargathanaya pithavae....Then...Annannu vendunna aahaaram 'Maththi' ennum jhangalkku tharename.....:)

  10. I am sangeetha i am regular reader of your blog.U have a great blog, all your recipes are really wonderful...

    Pepper fish fry is my favorite dish...This looks delicious! I will try this:-)
    I recently started my own blog
    Take a look at

  11. Wow! I'm drooling over here. Those fried sardines look delicious. If I could get some Sardines this week, I'll definitely try it out and let you know. I've started craving for it already.


  12. two questions

    1)where are the remaning 8 matthis..? if stolen who did that?

    2)How about delivering 17 matthis to europe!!;-D

    ofcoz i mean fried with fresh peppercorn....:-D

    chumma manushyane...........i am so hungry now!!!!!!!

  13. You know what, I am seeing that kind of peppers for the first time. You are liek queen of fish-fries, So many of them! And yes send ur entry to my event. I know u have lotsa related entries :)

  14. mmmmmmmmmmmmm....nalla choodu mathy varuthathum chorum.... ....athinte oru manam...aahaaaaa....enikkipppo kothy varunnundu.......

  15. Hi...

    Finally you have come out with the next best.. and you know what Mathi/chala fry is my bestest ever favaourite dish/ fish. Ummm I am just going to try it asap...

    The name of pachakurumulaku itself says this is going to be a treat.. but even I do not have them so shall try with dried ones. I already know it will be a SUPER HIT...

    take care

  16. ohhh i dint know that this is a kuttanadan special...i first ate it from my mother in law who is no where near from kuttanad...but iam sure why this preparation is so taste can beat this simple recipe!!

  17. Even I didnt knw it was a kuttanadan preparation!! My granny used to wrap it in plantain leaf and cook it in kanal, esply the one from coconut shells. Tastes yum! :)Gr8 pic!


  18. where did u get them, u lucky girl?i am so envious now!!!

  19. I wish I could have some of that fried fish.

  20. Anh, why a flight and come over and stay with us :)

    Happy Cook, I understand....:) i think outdoor grilling is a good option for u ....wont be that smelly :)

    Sree, thanks.

    Small Talk. so happy to get such a lovely testimonial from a true blue kuttandan girl...:)) thanks for dropping by and giving me your approval stamp...truly , happy to receive such a message. Yes, duck roast is already in the drafts...will post soon..:)

    Anon, :))

    Reena, yeah kachiya moru and fish fry is comfort food for me :) ever since u mentioned pacha kurumulaku pickle, all of us are craving for it :)

    Jina, i hadn't seen it till sunday morning when a friend mailed me the link...oru cheriya linking aanenkilum santhosham thonee :) Thx for sharing. pinne, i get chaala from Chicago which is in one of our neighbouring states and about 3 hrs drive from our whenevr we re in chicago, we come back to load our freezer with all exported frozen stuff from a kerala store out there :)

    Thulasy, aa comment vaayichu njangal orupadu-orupadu chirichu....:D so sweet of her....ente anweshanam ariyikkoo :)

    Sangeetha, well, nice blog name u ve got...i did check your blog ...a good this point a bit pressed for time, so didnt get time to leave a message...will drop by again ...enjoy blogging :)

    Rg, hope the taste satisfies your craving :) How ve u been?

    Mathew, heheh....none stole....the remaining 8 were in the second batch and they were on stove top while i was clicking the first set :) address paranja parcel ayachu tharam , with bonus items :D

    My experiments, really? thats how they look before u get those dried ones in packets :)

    Anon, varuthu kazhinju athinte aa fried marinade kalayathe aa choodu choru kuracheduthu athil mix cheythu kazhikkan marakkanda....thats more tasty than the actual fish fry itself :)

    Rekha,the one with dried ones are also equally good....if u havent tried it yet, it is a nice change from the regular chilli powder fries..hope to get ur feedback :)

    Divz & Prathibha, to my knowledge ammachi and her family and her relatives who hail from this area use this preparation which was completely new to my family and our friends group, hence i thought it is a preparation specific to this area. and yes, taste is awesome and as prathibha said, it is roasted on coal, i really cant imagine how awesome it would be....makes my mouth water already :)

    Mallugirl, hehhe...smuggled goods category :P

    Cynthia, next time u re here in US, visit us :)


  21. wow great recipes..where do u get sardines here!!!

  22. I am so glad I stumbled on your Blog! I have tried a similar recipe with Mackerel. But your sardines look so much more delectable. I am going to fetch some sardines next time and try these.

  23. Mishmash,
    "Njan kore diwasam aayi ee photo and receipe nokki vayyille vellam irrakkunnu " Please tell me where can I find fresh peppercorns in US.

    I have tried almost all your receipe and have to say all are really yummy!!!

  24. Mishmash,
    "Njan kore diwasam aayi ee photo and receipe nokki vayyille vellam irrakkunnu " Please tell me where can I find fresh peppercorns in US.

    I have tried almost all your receipe and have to say all are really yummy!!!


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