Unripe Mango and Katla (Indian Carp) Curry

It is traditional in Tamil Nadu to combine mango and fish in a curry. Mango and (especially) freshwater fish make a delicious curry combining the flavours of the season.

Unripe Mango and Fish Curry 1 - Kalas Kalai

Unripe Mango and Fish Curry

In Tamil Nadu, freshwater fish (from both rivers and tanks/dams) are caught in large quantities when the water level goes down during the end of summer. Though these fish are generally sold as whole or sliced, Katla (which weigh 3-4 kg each) are sold in cubes (without skin or bones) by Supreme Seafood in Chennai. I find it easier to cook and eat freshwater fish as cubes as one is spared the process of removing the slime from the skin and the tiny bones from the flesh. Unripe mangoes are abundant in the market during summer.


Unripe Mango and Fish Curry 2 - Kalas Kalai

Mango slices and Katla cubes.

Nutritive Value

Like most fish, Katla is rich in high-quality protein. It is also rich in calcium and the vitamin Choline. A 100 g portion of the fish provides 19 g of easily digestible protein. Therefore this curry can be used in diets where additional protein over the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) is required.


  • ½ kg Katla (Indian Carp) cubes, without skin and bone
  • 1 large Unripe Mango
  • 1 small Onion, diced
  • 2 medium Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  • ¾ C fresh Coconut scrapings
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 T Kashmiri Chilli powder
  • 1 T Coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp Fenugreek powder
  • ¼ tsp Mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp Fenugreek seeds
  • 2 sprigs Curry Leaves
  • 2 T Gingelly/Sesame Oil
  • 1 T Salt, or to taste


  1. Wash the fish cubes and drain.
  2. Cut the mango as shown in the second photograph.
  3. Pour a cup of hot water over the tamarind and allow it to soak for 30 minutes. Squeeze and extract the juice; use more water if necessary, strain and set aside.
  4. Grind the coconut scrapings in a mixie or blender to a fine paste.
  5. Heat the oil in a heavy-based, medium-sized pan.
  6. Add the mustard seeds. As soon as they pop, add the fenugreek seeds and then the diced onion. Stir.
  7. When the onions become translucent, add the chopped tomato and allow it to cook till the oil separates.
  8. Add the spice powders (turmeric, chilli, coriander, fenugreek) and salt and mix well.
  9. Add the tamarind extract and the ground coconut. Add extra water to arrive at a thick gravy consistency. Bring to boil.
  10. Add the mango pieces and allow to boil for a minute.
  11. Add the fish cubes; bring to boil again, lower heat. Cover the vessel and cook till the fish slices rise and float.
  12. Add the curry leaves. Remove from heat.
  13. Serve with plain boiled rice or dosai or idli.


  1. Katla is available during certain seasons as cubes. If it is available only with skin, then remove the slime from the skin by rubbing the fish (before slicing) with salt and then washing with water. You can then rub the slices with salt and wash with water to ensure no trace of the slime remains.
  2. Both mangoes and tomatoes are sour. You can omit the tomatoes to reduce the punch in the dish if you prefer a milder flavour.
  3. If fresh coconut is not available, half a cup of reconstituted thick coconut milk could be used.
  4. Add curry leaves before removing it from heat, to get the maximum flavour.
  5. If you are using fresh tamarind extract, strain the extract twice to remove the grit.

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