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Spicy Nellore Chepala Pulusu – Andhra Fish Curry

Nellore Chepala Pulusu. Tangy Andhra Style Telugu Fish curry in tamarind Sauce. Recipe from Akkineni Nageswara Rao’s House. Adapted from Chef Venkatesh Bhat.

  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 mins
  • Yield: 5 1x



Main Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoon gingely (Indian sesame) oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 3 dried red chillies
  • 3 sprigs curry leaves
  • 8 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 green chillies
  • 1520 shallots (small onions)
  • 1 lime size tamarind
  • 6 very ripe tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
  • 3 teaspoons coriander powder (dhania)
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 500 grams fresh water fish with bones
  • 4 cups water (divided)

For the Spice Powder

  • 1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Heat 6-8 tablespoons of Gingely (sesame) Oil in a pan. Be generous with the oil. Add in the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, dried red chillies and curry leaves. Fry until the curry leaves are crisp.
  2. Add in the finely minced garlic, chopped green chillies and finely chopped shallots (small onions). Add green chillies according to your taste. Fry till they are lightly brown. The oil will bubble up if you are using gingely oil. Its fine.
  3. Soak a big lemon size tamarind in 2 cups of hot water. Let it soak for 20 minutes. Make a pulp by squeezing the tamarind well. Strain the pulp to get rid of the seeds. Set aside.
  4. Puree 6 tomatoes in a blender. Set aside.
  5. Add in the tomato puree and the tamarind pulp. Add in a teaspoon of turmeric powder, 2 teaspoons of red chilli powder and 3 teaspoons of coriander powder (dhania). The ratio being 1:2:3. Add in the salt. Add 2 more cups of water.
  6. Simmer the gravy for 30 minutes covered on a low flame stirring every 5 minutes once. After 30 minutes the oil would start to float on top. That is a sure sign that the gravy has been cooked.
  7. Add in the fish pieces and let it cook for 7-8 minutes on low flame. Fresh water fish works well for this recipe.
  8. When the fish is cooking, lets make a spice powder for the curry. Heat a heavy pan and dry roast fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and black pepper on a low flame for 5 minutes. Low flame is key. Do not rush. Dry roast until everything starts to pop and starts to brown. Remove from heat and cool on a plate. Once the mixture is cooled, grind to a very fine powder.
  9. Add the powder to the pan. Simmer for a minute. Remove off heat and serve hot with rice.
  • Author: Kannamma - Suguna Vinodh
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Non-Veg
  • Cuisine: South Indian
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