Serves: 3-4
Fish (Indian Mackerel/Seer preferred) - 2 lbs
Pearl onion - 12
Tomato - 2
Garlic clove - 5
Curry leaves - 12
Whole black pepper - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
Vadagam - 1 tbsp
Tamarind - 1 small lime size
Red chili powder - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Sesame oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - as needed


  1. Clean, cut fish into 1-inch thick fillets. You can use the head also for this.
  2. Peel small onion and cut in half.
  3. Finely chop tomato.
  4. Soak tamarind in 1 cup warm water for 10 mins. Then mash well to extract the juice and discard the pulp.
  5. Grind together 3 small onions, cumin seeds, garlic, black pepper, and curry leaves to a coarse paste.


  1. Heat oil in a pot.
  2. Add vadagam and wait for it to crackle.
  3. Add ground paste and saute till raw smell goes. Should take 1-2 mins.
  4. Add remaining onions and saute till onions start to turn golden. Add a little salt to speed up cooking. Should take 1-2 mins.
  5. Add tomato and a little salt, and fry till it becomes mushy and oil starts to release from the sides. Should take 4-5 mins.
  6. Add chili powder and turmeric powder. Saute well till oil starts to release. Should take 1-2 mins.
  7. Add the tamarind juice along with enough water so that it will just about submerge the fish when added later. Don’t make it too watery.
  8. Bring to boil and cook for 2-3mins.
  9. Taste and add salt as required.
  10. Add the fish and make sure all the pieces are under the liquid.
  11. Cook on low heat for 3-4 mins or until fish is cooked through.
  12. Remove from heat.
  13. This kuzhambu tastes much better if left to soak for a few hours, so you can make it the previous evening to enjoy for next day lunch, or make in the morning and eat for dinner.
  14. When ready to eat, bring to a boil for 2 minutes, then serve hot with rice, dosa, idly, etc.