Keralan Fish Molee

The concept of a fish curry seems to freak people out. So much so, the mere suggestion of it usually elicits looks of suspicion and a chorus of “ugh!” and “ewww!“. Such reactions have always confounded me because fish curry is, in a word, delicious. Over the years I have tried to introduce my sceptical dinner guests to the delights of fish curry and I have found the most success with molee.

Keralan Fish MoleeA speciality of Kerala in Southern India molee is, strictly speaking a fish stew, but with its rich and fragrant coconut sauce it can still be considered a curry. Simple to make and requiring very few ingredients, molee is surprisingly complex in flavour and makes a great addition to any Indian meal.

Aside from the fish, the key ingredient to molee are curry leaves. The dish benefits immensely from fresh curry leaves, but if you can’t find these then dried leaves will do at a pinch. Whenever I manage to find fresh curry leaves I always make sure I freeze some, as these will still be superior to dried.

Still not convinced about fish curry? Give molee a go and trust me, before you know it you’ll be tucking into some Fish Head Curry!

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Keralan Fish Molee: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1-3 green chillis, finely chopped (use as many as you can handle!)
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 heaped tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tin of coconut milk (400ml)
  • 10 curry leaves, preferably fresh
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 600-700g skinned firm white fish; kingklip, monkfish, sole, kob


  • Fresh coriander, chopped
  • Fresh Curry Leaves


  1. On a medium heat, add the oil in a large, deep frying pan
  2. Add the onions and sauté for 5-7 minutes
  3. Add the garlic and chilli and continue frying for another couple of minutes, or until the onions have softened
  4. Add the cloves, turmeric, coriander and cumin, sauté for 1 minute
  5. Stir in the coconut milk, followed by the curry leaves and salt
  6. Bring the molee to almost to a boil and immediately reduce the heat
  7. Simmer for 15-20 minutes
  8. Stored in the fridge, the sauce can be made a few hours in advance or even a day before serving
  9. Cut the fish into 6 pieces
  10. Bring the sauce back to a lively simmer and add the fish
  11. Partially cover the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and is flaky
  12. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly
  13. Garnish with chopped coriander and fresh curry leaves (if you only have dried curry leaves just use the coriander)

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