Mangalore Memories and my take on the Mangalorean Fish Fry

They say when you travel, the journey ends; but the memories still remain.. Around this time, last year; I made a trip to Mangalore. Since this was a trip after quite some time; I had jotted down a few things to do and of secret recipes I wanted to learn. That decided, I began my Mangalore sojourn.

So while most of the items on my ‘to-do’ checklist got ticked off, one of the most difficult to pull off was trying to source authentic recipes. When it comes to recipes, we Mangaloreans are a thrifty lot. We find it very difficult to part with our recipes. Even if some kind aunt would share her secret recipes, it would be “illehse te ghaal re” (put a little bit of that, son) or “Don oondi yeh ghaal” (put in two fistfuls of this) leaving the poor apprentice with absolutely no choice but to assume what exact measures are ‘illehshe’ and ‘don oondi’. Nevertheless, I did source some authentic ones. Some of which I have already posted; some which I am yet to perfect and will then publish.

By now, I have told you numerous times, how much a Mangalorean loves his silverware, I mean fish and not the metal. Today’s recipe too is something I learnt and ate in Mangalore. The fish fry is a very common item on lunch menus across homes; usually accompanied by steamed rice and some kind of a vegetable gravy. Now, traditionally, fish fry is made by simply marinating the fish in spices along with vinegar and then frying it in oil. I had this version at a restaurant and pretty much liked the idea of enclosing the fish in a banana leaf. My take on this was to add a stuffing inside the fish and what better than the all time favorite, coconut.  Don’t be appaled by the picture and think the fish is burnt. Let me assure you its not. This kind of frying is popular across southern India. Only the skin, gets the dark tan, but the flesh inside is succulent and sweet with a cushion of spicy coconut filling.

On a hot summers day, fried fish and beer… “Anee kaleh zai” (what else would you want) as they say in Mangalore.


Mangalorean Styled Fish Fry


For the fish

  • 1 medium sized pomfret (or any firm fleshed fish)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon, red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon, turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil -sufficient enough to fry the fish
  • 1 banana leaf, sufficiently large to completely encase the fish

For the Filling

  • Half a coconut, grated
  • 2 green chillies (increase the quantity if you can take the heat)
  • 1 small bunch, corriander leaves
  • 2 sprigs, curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon, cummin
  • 1 teaspoon, corriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons, peppercorns
  • Water from the coconut.


  • Wash, clean the fish and carefully remove the insides taking care not to break the fish.
  • Then, using a sharp knife, make 2-3 incisions on the fish, using firm and decisive strokes.
  • Next, rub the salt, red chilli and turmeric powder on the fish and drizzle with lime juice.
  • Now grind to a paste all ingredients mentioned under the head ‘For the filling’ to a smooth paste. Use the water from the coconut to grind.
  • Rub this paste all over the fish making sure to ensure the paste is evenly distributed across the fish.
  • Wash the banana leaf well and rub it dry. Spread a little oil on the inside and place the fish in the center.
  • Enclose the fish securely with the leaf. If required tie it with a string.
  • Now heat oil in a pan till it reaches smoking point. Place the fish in the pan and cover the pan with a lid.
  • Turn the fish after 4 minutes, till the skin of the fish gets charred not burnt.
  • Once done, open the banana leaf and let the fish rest for a while.
  • Serve with whatever you like… I’m sure you’ll love it.



2 thoughts on “Mangalore Memories and my take on the Mangalorean Fish Fry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s