Sunday, January 15, 2006

Andhra Chepa Pulusu - Fish Cooked in Tamarind Sauce

Today is the third day of Sankranti festival and is called 'Kanuma' ..traditionally its the day devoted to giving thanks to cattle.Cows and bulls in the villages are adorned with bells on their neck and offered prasadam (food offering).Non-vegetarian delicacies are cooked and all the younger members of the family pay their respects to the elders and the elders gift them money and clothes.According to tradition followed since our forefathers,the new sons-in-law of the family are treated to lavish lunch spread with authentic Andhra non-vegetarian flavours like gongura mamasam(mutton cooked in red sorrel leaves),chepa pulusu(fish cooked in spicy tangy tamarind sauce),kodi kura (chicken curry),royallu vepudu(prawns/shrimp fry) and many more.. on ‘Kanuma’ day.

We had a very sumptuous lunch spread this afternoon with non-vegetarian delicacies being the ‘theme’..During the festive season all the woman folk of the family lend a helping hand in the kitchen and since it’s a large family gathering everybody puts in their best effort to prepare the best tasting food possible that isn't too hot and has a nice balance of spices with aromatic flavours. They say "Too many cooks spoil the broth" ..well that quote sure doesnt apply here as many cooks add a lot of love,spice and flavour to the dishes being cooked this festive season..:).Its fun and that’s what celebrating festivals is all about.... a day of sharing,caring,laughter and relaxation.

Today I tried my hand at cooking a traditional Andhra fish gravy recipe,Chepa Pulusu,which is amma’s speciality dish.Chepa Pulusu is fresh fish cooked in a tangy tamarind sauce with freshly ground spices.This particular dish tastes best the next day (after the fish pieces are soaked in the tamarind and spice juices) served with hot steamed white rice and sliced onions.Must say that everyone enjoyed the dish though I felt it was no where compared to amma’s Chepa pulusu.I have come to realise that when I cook traditional recipes, they are so close to my heart as I have grown up eating amma's cooking and observing how she combines it all together to make the most tasteful dish one can ever eat.I guess it's the hand of amma’s love..:)


7-8 fish fillets (mackarel or catfish or tilapia)
1 cup finely chopped onions
4 slit green chillis
1 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp cumin pwd
1 tsp coriander pwd
1 1/2 tsp red chilli pwd
4 tbsp tamarind extract
1/4 tsp turmeric pwd
10-12 curry leaves
1 big lemon-sized tamarind pulp (soak tamarind in 2 cups of warm water and extract thick juice)
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
salt to taste
1/2 cup oil

1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp methi seeds (fenugreek)

Heat oil in a wide vessel and add the mustard seeds and let them splutter.Add the methi seeds and let it brown.Add the curry leaves and stir for a few seconds.
Now add the chopped onions and fry on medium heat till the onions turn transparent. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for 3 mts.Add the turmeric pwd,coriander pwd,cumin pwd,red chilli pwd and salt and fry for a minute.Now add the tamarind extract and bring it to boil.
Now carefully place the fish pieces in the vessel and cook covered for 3 mts.Add the green chillis. Turn the fish pieces over and cook.Cover and cook on low heat for 10 mts.Let the sauce thicken and till the oil seperates or leaves the sides of the vessel.Adjust salt and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Note:Do not stir too much lest the fish pieces break and be gentle while stirring the fish pieces.Serve it after a couple of hours of cooking so that the fish pieces absorb the tangy flavour of the tamarind sauce and spices.In Andhra, we generally prepare this pulusu with Koramenu,Vanjaram,Thella chepa or Bocha.Generally we dry roast the coriander seeds,cumin seeds and dry red chillis and make a powder for this dish.You can use the ready made powders also to save time.But if you have time to spare it would be best to dry roast the spices and make a powder.



Meena said...

Wow Sailu!!

I love fish in a tamarind based curry, my mom makes one Malay style and its my favourite. I have the recipe here,

I hope you like it. I'll definitely try your recipe!

And thanks for your wishes!! :o)

Zoubida said...

Hello Sailu,
I hope you're enjoying your festival.
This fish recipe sounds so flavorful ! All of a sudden I feel hungry for it. I too will definetly try it.
Thank you for sharing it along with tidbits of your fascinating culture.

sailu said...

Your welcome,Meena.I will check out the link of your mom's recipe.

I sure am enjoying the festivities here,Zoubida.You will love this fish recipe.

Anonymous said...

This recipe sounds like a feast indeed! I like all kinds of fish dishes. I also like to read and learn about other traditions. Thanks for sharing, Sailu!


Kay said...

Sailu, I love fish curries, esp the tamarind based ones! I have to try your recipe sometime.

sailu said...

It's sure is a feast,Paz.

Kay,do let me know how it turned out.

Vamsee said...

OHHhhhh! this is my all time fav! chaapala pulusu...abba, I am drooling all over!

Ram said...

Can I use the same recipe for Peethalu (crab) pulusu?
It some how turned a little bitter (chedu).. what could I have possibly done wrong?

btw, thanks for all those wonderful recipes! really appreciate it.

sailu said...

Thank you Vamsee..:)

Hi Ram,I am glad you tried it out.
Probably you added too much methi..just a pinch is enough.Once the tamarind extract is must boil till rawness disappears and then fish should be added and the amount of tamarind added should be just enough and not too much as it can get too tangy.And not all varieties of fish taste good when cooked in a pulusu.

ram said...

Thanks Sailu, I will keep it in mind next time. I don't know much about the fishes available here in US. I found some place where they sell live fish .. so, just got what ever had the least bones (mullu) :).

Kirthi said...

Hi Sailu, I tried the fish pulusu and it turned out great. Was a real hit among all family members. Thanks so much for sharing such wonderful recipes :)


mg said...

Everytime i come here, i drool over this photo...

Divine Thoughts said...

Thanks Sailu. I have taken the recipe a prinout and gonna try today in my home. Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Hi sailu, how r u?
can you please tell me these fish names in telugu...

rainbow trout
red snapper


Anonymous said...

Hi Sailu,
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe . I tried it and it really turned out to be the best . I've tried before too but it was never this taste . Was missing andhra food a lot before but now i try most of them .... because of u who came up with these recipes online . bye
padma Australia

Brouhaha said...

hello all. great receipe and nice comments. i need a little help here. there is a very small variety of fish, almost the size of index coastal andhra is often referred to as `nethadi' or netthaddi. my grandma used to make yummpy pulusu. can anyone tell me its english name or what are its other telugu names. one more question? is vanjaram really called king fish or seer fish?