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Saiva Meen Kuzhambu – Vegetarian Fish Curry

  • Author: Kannamma - Suguna Vinodh
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


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.



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)
  • 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


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 for 2 minutes 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. 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 15 minutes.
  4. Add in the fried cubes and simmer for couple of minutes more.
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Curry
  • Cuisine: Tamilnadu