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Saiva Meen Kuzhambu – Vegetarian Fish Curry

by | Mar 15, 2017 | 11 comments

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Chettinad style saiva meen kuzhambu or vegetarian fish curry. The fish steaks are made using cowpea – thattapayir and simmered in a tamarind gravy. It looks very similar to a traditional fish curry.

There are some recipes that are so fun to make and this is one such recipe. I made this for the first time years ago. There is no fish in this recipe. The cowpea – thattapayir patties are shaped and fried like fish and added to the curry. People truly believe that it is indeed the traditional South Indian fish curry. Years ago, Vinodh truly believed that it was fish curry until he took the first bite – the first time. I totally love the facial expression people make after taking the first bite of the fish curry. The curry tastes really good and its the fun part that makes this recipe a winner when you serve them to guests for the first time.

Here is the video of how to make saiva meen kuzhambu

We will be using thatta payir / cowpea – brown variety for making the faux fish steaks.

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Cowpea – Thattapayir paste
Soak the cowpea overnite in water. Next day, drain the water and grind the cowpea with fennel seeds, red chilli powder, salt and garlic cloves to a thick paste. Try not to add any water while grinding. Add 2 tablespoon of water if the mixie wont budge and make sure that the paste remains thick. Pulse several times if need be.

saiva-meen-kuzhambu-paste

Steaming the Cowpea – Thattapayir paste
Traditionally, the paste is steamed in a local leaf called “lejjai ketta keerai“. Its also called as nanjundan keerai or lachakkottai keerai. Its widely used in cooking in the chettinad region. They even make a stir-fry with the leaves. Today I will be using banana leaves for steaming the paste. If you cant find banana leaves, you can even use parchment paper as a substitute.

Spread the paste on the banana leaf to form a rectangle. Cover the leaf gently over the paste.

saiva-meen-kuzhambu-leaf

Steam the leaf for 15 minutes in a steamer.

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Once the paste has been fully cooked, remove the leaf from the steamer and cut the cooked paste into roughly about one inch cubes.

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Frying the Thattapayir – Cowpea cubes
Heat Oil in a pan until hot. Place the cubes gently in oil and fry them until crisp and golden brown. Drain the fried cubes on paper towels. Set aside.
Tip: If the oil is really hot, the steamed cubes wont stick to the bottom of the skillet while shallow frying. Alternatively, one can use a non-stick pan to fry the cubes.

saiva-meen-kuzhambu-fry

For the Gravy
Heat sesame oil in a pan and add in the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds. Let the seeds splutter. Add in the chopped onions and fry till the onions are nice and soft and starting to brown.

saiva-meen-kuzhambu-onion

Add in the chopped tomatoes, coriander powder, sambar powder, chilli powder and salt. Fry till the tomatoes are well cooked and juiced down. Add in the tamarind paste and two cups of water. I have used homemade tamarind paste today. Simmer the gravy for 10 minutes.
Note: If using raw tamarind, soak a lime size tamarind in 2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind in the palm to extract the pulp. Discard the seeds and use the tamarind pulp in the recipe. Homemade Tamarind Paste RecipeΒ .

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Add in the fried cubes and simmer for couple of minutes more.

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The faux fish curry is ready. Do try it at home.

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Print
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Saiva Meen Kuzhambu – Vegetarian Fish Curry

Chettinad style saiva meen kuzhambu or vegetarian fish curry. The fish steaks are made using cowpea – thattapayir and simmered in a tamarind gravy. It looks very similar to a traditional fish curry.

  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Ingredients

Scale

For the fish steak

  • 1/3 cup cowpea / thatta payir
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (sombu)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil to shallow fry

For the gravy

  • 2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (vendhayam)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (sombu)
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon sambar powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon tamarind paste

Instructions

For the fish steaks

  1. Soak the cowpea overnite in water. Next day, drain the water and grind the cowpea with fennel seeds, red chilli powder, salt and garlic cloves to a thick paste.
  2. Spread the paste on the banana leaf to form a rectangle. Cover the leaf gently over the paste.
  3. Steam the leaf for 15 minutes in a steamer.
  4. Once the paste has been fully cooked, remove the leaf from the steamer and cut the cooked paste into one inch cubes.
  5. Heat Oil in a pan until hot. Place the cubes gently in oil and fry them on each side until crisp and golden brown. Drain the fried cubes on paper towels. Set aside.

For the Gravy

  1. Heat sesame oil in a pan and add in the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds and curry leaves. Let the seeds splutter. Add in the chopped onions and fry till the onions are nice and soft and starting to brown.
  2. Add in the chopped tomatoes, coriander powder, sambar powder, chilli powder and salt. Fry till the tomatoes are well cooked and juiced down. Add in the tamarind paste and two cups of water.
  3. Simmer the gravy for 10 minutes.
  4. Add in the fried cubes and simmer for couple of minutes more.
  • Author: Kannamma - Suguna Vinodh
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Curry
  • Cuisine: Tamilnadu

Keywords: saiva meen kuzhambu

saiva-meen-kuzhambu-cal

11 Comments

  1. bob

    Wow, never had cowpea like this. Delicious and would really recommend!






    Reply
    • Suguna Vinodh

      Thank you so much for trying the recipe.

      Reply
  2. Barrgavi

    i dont have thatta payir. Can i use Kollu. Thts the only one i have now

    Reply
  3. Ramesh

    May I request you to post soya chunks kurma& fry, that tastes similar to Mutton kurma&mutton fry. I understand that it wont taste/smelll 100% like mutton. This is a request from a ex non-vegetarian. I have tried lots of recipes available online. But none of them was perfect.

    Reply
  4. sumi

    awesome…

    Reply
  5. Jeni

    I’m a new housewife. And I’m exhausted about my cooking.my husband was disgusted over me. What I have to do

    Reply
    • Mythili

      a. u shouldn’t feel bad
      b. get a new husband who doesnt feel disgusted over you
      c. women are not “entitled” to cook. we do it out of love for our family
      d. If none of the above options work ask your husband to learn cooking so that he can cook for the both of u.
      xx

      Reply
  6. Sowmya

    I want video of saiva meen kozhambu….pls provide






    Reply
  7. Madhi

    Mam,
    The recipe was tasting excellent..enjoyed it..unique item for vegetarians..
    can u pls post saiva meen varuval with senai kizhangu? i remember in my school days i had it in my hostel..

    Reply
    • Suguna Vinodh

      I will try to source the recipe Madhi. Thank you!

      Reply

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