Kerala Fish Molly

This is one of the recipes mentioned in Alistair Shearer’s post on cuisine in Kerala. He explains that it’s a favourite of the Christian community there, a legacy of the Syrians who settled in the region almost two thousand years ago in the steps of the apostle, Thomas.

Nowadays, it’s also a favourite of the Saucy Dressings’ chief taster, who, out of a selection of some forty odd dishes put before him to assess, deemed this to be the best. “You’ve really got a winner here,” was his comment, “good balance of flavours, intriguing and different”.

To be authentic you should use the local king fish (you can get kingfish in the UK from The Fish Society), but I found it revitalised an ancient pair of cod steaks which had been lurking in my freezer for months – any firm white fish would benefit from this mild southern Indian treatment.

You could add in a peeled mango cut into chunks.

You can cook the fish from frozen.

This dish is also known as Meen Molee, or Meen Moilee.

Serve with basmati rice, papadums, and mango chutney; and samphire or baby spinach.

You can do quite a lot of preparation ahead of time… down to step 6 in fact.

Recipe for Kerala Fish Molly

Serves 2


  • 2 x fish steaks (can be frozen)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 4 curry leaves
  • 1 thumbnail of fresh ginger
  • 1 onion
  • ½ tsp Byadgi chilli or ‘nduja or Aleppo pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tomato (or 5 baby plum tomatoes), chopped
  • 120 ml/½ cup just boiled water
  • 120 ml/½ cup tinned coconut milk
  • Juice and zest of half a lime (about 1 tbsp)
  • peeled and chopped mango – optional


  1. Heat the oil.
  2. Peel and chop the onion and fry.
  3. Add the ginger and curry leaves while you peel and crush the garlic with the salt.
  4. Add the garlic.
  5. Add the tomatoes.
  6. Add the turmeric and the Byadgi chilli, fry for another minute or so.
  7. Add 120 ml/½ cup just boiled water.
  8. Add the fish – you can cook from frozen if you like – bring the liquid back to the boil and continue to simmer for two or three minutes each side. Make sure it’s cooked through. It doesn’t matter too much if you cook it so much it starts to flake – it will mix in fine with the rice. Add the mango if you are using that.
  9. Lower the temperature and add the coconut milk.
  10. Add the juice and zest of the lime.
This post is dedicated to Alistair Shearer.
kerala fish molly recipe

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