Karimeen Curry (Pearlspot Curry)

Freshwater Pearlspot (Karimeen) is a big delicacy in Kerala. Karimeen is traditionally prepared in a few popular ways in Kerala like Karimeen Mappas, Karimeen Polichathu, Karimeen Paalu Curry and so on. Hubby’s mom prepares the best Karimeen Polichathu I have ever eaten. She always uses Fresh Karimeen caught from the backwaters of Vembanad and that is the secret behind the taste.

Kerala Karimeen Curry

Kerala Karimeen Curry

When my mother-in-law visted us, we made this Karimeen Curry using Frozen Karimeen. It was good but it would have tasted superb if we had used Fresh Karimeen from the backwaters of Kerala. This is a simple preparation for Pearlspot but tomatoes and coconut milk greatly enhance the flavor of the gravy.


  1. Karimeen (Pearlspot) – 5 Nos.
  2. Thinly Sliced Shallots – 1.5 cups
  3. Curry Leaves – 2 sprigs
  4. Ginger (sliced into thin strips) – 1 tbsp
  5. Crushed Garlic – 4 big cloves
  6. Tomatoes – 3 medium
  7. Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
  8. Red Chilly Powder – 1 tsp (Alter according to your spice tolerance)
  9. Kashmiri Chilly Powder – 2 tbsp
  10. Fenugreek Powder (Uluva) – 1/4 tsp
  11. Fish Tamarind (Kudampuli) – 2 small pieces
  12. Coconut Oil – 2 tbsp + 2 tsp
  13. Water – 2 cups
  14. Mustard Seeds – 1/4 tsp
  15. Think Coconut Milk – 1/2 cup
  16. Cashew Halves – a small handful
  17. Lemon Juice – from one small lemon
  18. Salt – to taste

For marinade

  1. Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
  2. Red Chilly Powder – 1.5 tsp
  3. Black Pepper Powder – 1 tsp
  4. Salt – to taste

Preparation Method

  1. Clean the fish thoroughly. Remove the eyes, scales and fins and make gashes on both sides of the fish. You can also cut the mouth using Kitchen Shears.
  2. Soak the fish in little water along with lemon juice for a few minutes to remove any unwanted smell. Drain and keep aside. Prepare a marinade using the above ingredients and rub it on the fish. Keep aside for 15 minutes.
  3. Wash the kudampuli thoroughly and soak it in half cup water.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp coconut oil in a wide manchatti (earthen clay pot) or nonstick pan and splutter mustard seeds.
  5. Throw in the ginger, garlic and a sprig curry leaves. Saute for 2 minutes and add the shallots. Once the shallots become translucent, add the chopped tomatoes.
  6. Once the tomatoes are cooked thoroughly, reduce heat, add red chilly powder and kashmiri chilly powder. Saute for a minute so that it changes color. Add turmeric and fenugreek powders. Give a quick stir and pour 2 cups of water to the pan.
  7. Add fish tamarind to the pan and allow everything to boil for 5 minutes on medium heat.
  8. Add salt to taste and then add the fish to the pan. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, heat 2 tsp oil in a pan and fry the cashews until golden brown.
  10. Open the pan and reduce heat. Slowly, add coconut milk and fried cashews. Swirl the pan and remove from heat. Garnish with the remaining sprig of curry leaves. Let the curry sit for a few hours before serving.


  • You can also lightly fry the Pearlspot before adding it to the curry. This will prevent it from breaking.



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1 comment to Karimeen Curry (Pearlspot Curry)

  • Nila


    Love this post…. Where can i get (atleast) frozen karimeen, here in the U.S.(New Jersey)? What is a good substitute fish for this recipe? Do we use it whole? Thank you very much..

    You should be able to find Frozen Karimeen in Indian Grocery Stores spceially South Indian Stores. You can also use Whole Tilapia (cleaned) for this recipe. You will be able to buy Whole Cleaned Tilapia from Asian Markets. Hope this helps.


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