Meen Asaadhu (Thirunelveli Fish Curry in Coconut Milk)

Meen Asaadhu is a recipe which my mother had copied from her grandmother’s book but she never prepared. I was always curious about it and tried it only when I was able to get skinless and boneless fish cubes (when I moved near the sea 10 years ago). My great-grandmother had recommended either pomfret or barracuda, but you can use other any other marine fish which could be prepared into cubes. I prefer to use black pomfret.

Meen Asaadu - Kalas Kalai

Meen Asaadhu (Thirunelveli Fish Curry in Coconut Milk)

The method of preparing the masala or the spices distinguishes the asaadhu from other fish curries. The green masala (green chillies, ginger, and garlic) are boiled with the spice powders instead of being fried as in all other recipes. Combining cinnamon, cloves, and sombu is also unique to this recipe.

Nutritive Value

The pomfret provides 20g of very high quality protein per 100g (barracuda provides 14g per 100g). The coconut milk supplies about 1,000 Calories and 8g of protein. This is a high protein, energy rich preparation ideal to include in the diets of people needing body building nutrients.


  • 750g Pomfret (Vaaval/Vavaal) or Barracuda (Cheela) Cubes, skinned and boneless
  • 1 large Onion, diced
  • 5 cm piece Ginger, grated
  • 10 large Garlic Cloves, diced
  • 6 Green Chillies, slit
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 T Coriander Powder
  • 2 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Clove Powder
  • ¼ tsp Cinnamon Powder
  • ½ tsp Sombu (Aniseed) Powder
  • 1 C thick Coconut Milk
  • 4 pieces Cinnamon
  • 8 Cloves
  • ½ tsp Sombu (Aniseed) Seeds
  • 3 sprigs Curry Leaves
  • 1 tsp Lime Juice
  • 1 T Salt, or to taste
  • 2 T Vegetable Oil
  • 2 C Water


  1. Wash and drain the fish cubes.
  2. Boil the water. Add ginger, garlic, green chillies, and the turmeric, coriander, chilli, clove, cinnamon, and sombu powders. Simmer for 3 minutes.
  3. Add salt. Gently place the fish pieces in the boiling water. Simmer till fish floats.
  4. Heat the oil in a small kadai or wok.
  5. Add the cinnamon, cloves, and sombu. When the sombu seeds crackle, add the onion. Fry till the onion is almost translucent.
  6. Transfer this to the fish.
  7. Pour the coconut milk. Add a little water to adjust the quantity of gravy required.
  8. Add the lime juice and curry leaves.
  9. Bring to boil. Remove from heat immediately and serve.


  1. Even if the fish has been cleaned by the fishmonger, it is always advisable to wash it at home to remove any scales sticking to it.
  2. When you add ingredients after the fish is cooked, stir only once. Otherwise you may break the fish pieces.
  3. I use reconstituted coconut milk made from coconut milk powder.
  4. My great-grandmother’s recipe called for sliced green chillies, but I only slit them to reduce the heat.

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