Chepala pulusu (Tamarind fish curry)

The famous traditional Andhra fish curry, chepala pulusu which means Tamarind fish curry, which is very popular and found in every restaurants of the menu in Andhra. The fish is cooked in a tangy sauce which tastes tastier the next day. In my home, my relations and my friends who are from Andhra Vizag (Vishakhapatnam), Anantapur, Kurnool, Hindupur, kadappa, Guntakal, Hyderabad and other places, prepare this curry differently though the ingredients are same. Like some add tomato paste and some add chopped tomatoes, some prepare it with just onion and spices; the main taste comes from the fresh fish and the tanginess of the tamarind.

If you are using fish like cutla (carp), or rohu or any fish like catla, when the curry is cooked, it leaves lot of fat or oil because of the fish fatness, which makes the curry tastier. The stomach part of the carp or rohu, will be soft and fatty, personally my favourite apart from the fish head. You can see the difference between fresh water fish and the sea water fish. As my grandparents are from Anantapur (Andhra Pradesh), whenever fish curry has to be made, it has to be very fresh from the fresh water lake or river. The sourness of the tamarind and the fish goes well together. Even we prepare mango fish curry but other method. In Anantapur we get very good fresh water fishes, which I always enjoy them. The fish size used is generally big size or medium size depending on how big the fish is 2 kg or 3kg, the whole fish, so the pieces cut will also be big or medium.

This fish curry is eaten with plain rice, sometimes with ragi ka mudda (ragi sankati) rice ball made with ragi (millet) powder.

The fresh river water fish like cutla (carp), rohu or any fish from fresh water goes. You can use any sea fish like vanjaram (king fish), sea bass etc.

Benefits of carp fish (cutla or rohu)

  • Carp fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acid content.
  • Carp Fish are excellent sources of protein that are low in fat.
  • The protein in fish is of high quality, containing an abundance of essential amino acids, and is very digestible for people of all ages.

Preparation time: 20 mins

Cooking time: 40 mins

Cuisine: Andhra pradesh

Serves: 2 to 3

Spiciness: Hot

Ingredients

  • Fish – 400 to 500 gms
  • Oil – 1/3 cup
  • Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp
  • Dry chillies – 3
  • Curry leaves - 20
  • Onion – 2 medium or 200 gms
  • Tomatoes – 2 or 150 gms
  • Chilli powder – 1 tbsp
  • Cumin powder – 1 tbsp
  • Ginger and garlic paste – 2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Tamarind (dry) – medium lemon size
  • Green chillies (slit)– 4
  • Water – 3 to 3 1/2 cups
  • Coriander leaves (chopped) – 1/4 cup
  • Salt - as per taste

Method

  • The fish pieces I used is 1inch thick, medium size cut, you can use fillet also.
  • Chop the onions and tomatoes, keep it ready.
  • Soak dry tamarind in 1/2 cup warm water for a few minutes. Extract the tamarind water by squeezing nicely tamarind in warm water. Strain the tamarind water and keep it aside. Add 1/2 cup of water again to squeeze the remaining extract from the tamarind. Strain again and keep it aside. I have used 1 cup water for the tamarind water. If using tamarind paste (thick double concentrated, bought from the shop) just add water as per the curry requirement. use the tamarind as per the sourness you like.
  • Heat oil in a wide vessel and add the mustard seeds, methi seeds , dry chillies and curry leaves and let them splutter for few seconds.
  • Add the chopped onions and fry on medium heat till the onions turn transparent. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for 1 minute.
  • Add turmeric powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder and chopped tomatoes. Cook on a medium flame for 4 to 5 mins or until the tomatoes are soft.
  • Add 1 cup water, let it boil for 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup of the tamarind extract and 1 cup of water, bring it to boil and let it boil for 5 minutes.
  • Now carefully place the fish pieces in the vessel, add green chilli, and coriander leaves. Shake the vessel well instead of mixing it with a spoon. So that the fish pieces are not broken.
  • Cook for 10 to 12 minutes by closing the lid, till the fish curry is cooked, in between rotate the vessel, and shake it slightly. Cook till the consistency of the curry forms and rawness of the tamarind disappears.
  • Reduce the flame, add salt, cover and cook on low heat for 10 to 12 mins. Let the sauce thicken and till the oil separates or leaves.
  • Cook the curry in the afternoon and eat it for dinner, the fish curry tastes more delicious.
  • Adjust salt and garnish with chopped coriander leaves again.
  • Serve this delicious Andhra chepala pulusu( fish curry) with plain rice or roti(chapathi) or ragi sankati/ragi sangati.

Notes

  • You can use any fresh water fish or sea fish also like vangaram (king fish), sea bass.
  • Do not stir too much with a spoon, fish pieces can break, just hold the vessel and rotate it clock wise or antilock wise direction, by doing this the fish pieces won’t break.
  • After adding tamarind water, add extra water as per the requirement require.
  • You can reduce the chilli powder and green chillies as per your taste.
  • If adding thick double concentrated tamarind paste (1 1/2 tsp to 2 tsp), add water as per the requirement of the curry 3 cups water.
  • If you want you can add roasted methi seeds powder a pinch in the curry.
  • If you want you can add the special spice powder (just sprinkle 1 tsp while simmering the curry, which I have used for the Rayalaseema fish curry.

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