Kerala fish curry with Malabar tamarind

When I was living in Japan I once saw an article regarding a weight loss pill and to my surprise the magic ingredient featured in the article was Malabar tamarind, which in Kerala we call Kudampuli [its scientific name being Garcinia Cambogia]. I was surprised! Back then, my parents had a couple of these kudampuli trees and my mom always complained about drying the fruit during the monsoon season.
I wasn’t sure whether the article was just some pharmaceutical company’s tactic to sell their slimming pill so I checked with my relative who exports spice and herb extracts and realised that it was scientifically proven.
Research shows that Malabar tamarind contains Hydroxycitric acid that can be very helpful for people interested in weight loss and appetite control. Apparently studies indicate that Hydroxycitric acid may assist in weight loss because of its ability to regulate metabolism.

Here we go Malabar tamarind, the indispensible souring agent used in Kerala fish curry for centuries.
Malabar tamarind has been reported to be native to South India and its season is during the monsoon months of June, July and August.

It is a yellowish fruit that is about the size of an orange. The fruits are cut open, the pith is removed and the fruit is dried , smoked  and then stored for future use. It looks black when it’s dried. My mom sometimes uses the fresh fruit for curries and it’s delicious. The sour and fruity taste of this ingredient goes well with the heat of chillies and combined with ground fresh coconut, makes the Kerala fish curry a very special dish.
There are different recipes for Kerala fish curry, some with coconut and some without. This recipe is with ground coconut and is one of my favourite.


  • Fish-500g
  • Fresh grated coconut-½ cup
  • Chilli powder- 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric powder-¼ teaspoon
  • Oil-1 table spoon
  • Shallots (chopped)-1 teaspoon
  • Ginger (chopped)-½ teaspoon
  • Curry leaf-a few
  • Malabar tamarind-2-3 pieces
  • Salt


  • Clean and cut fish into steaks.
  • Grind together fresh grated coconut, chilli powder and turmeric powder to a fine paste.
  • Heat oil and fry shallots and ginger until fragrant add curry leaf, ground coconut paste, mix well .
  • Add one cup of water, enough salt and  malabar tamarind . Gently simmer for a ten minutes until the flavour of malabar tamarind flavour  the curry.
  • Add fish pieces and simmer again for  ten minutes until the fish is cooked.
  • Check for the seasoning.
  • Enjoy with plain rice.

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18 thoughts on “Kerala fish curry with Malabar tamarind

  1. Sunita says:

    Oh Manju, miss your magic here!…keep posting all your wonderful creations and have us salivating!!

  2. Hey,
    Manju I am waiting for your next recepie

  3. Shameer says:

    Manju Ithaaaa…Full comedy!
    I was trying your malabar fish curry here.Everything was smooth till the end,but i saw my 2 Malabar tamarinds smiling at me outside the saucepan even after i finish my fish curry.
    Guess what? :-)

  4. Suji says:

    Hi manju, i’m a Srilankan Tamil from the Eastern part ( the eastern province called Batticaloa) of Sri Lanka. We call it as KORUKKAIPULI.Most of our recipes are very close to malayali’s. We always use korukkaipuli in fish culambu. some poeple use tamarind, mango etc.But they give different tastes. We buy korukkaipuli in dried form. At grocery stores, it would normally be very old, squeezed,and full of dust. I never saw fresh korukkai in my life. When I saw your pictures, there is no words to say. It’s really———— mouth watering. What a beautiful fruit it is when it is fresh. I really want to cook fish curry with fresh korukkaipuli, but it is impossible.
    When you cook curry with fresh Korukkai (not dried), would it smell differently than the dried korukkai?

    • Hi Suji, Thank you so much for visiting my site and for your kind notes. I want to visit Srilanka one day, I heard it is very beautiful over there. I am really glad to hear that you use Kudampuli in your fish curries as well.I find it very hard to cook my fish curry without that since it adds a wonderful flavour to my curry. Regarding cooking with fresh Kudampuli, to be frank it doesn’t smell that different but it adds a much different sourness to the curry…… a much fresher taste…..You need to use the ripe fruit to get the best flavours and I like to eat the cooked puli from the curry wnen they are cool – they are deliciously sour.

  5. Suji says:

    Hi Manju, Thank you for your reply and additional information about kudampuli. You are very welcome to Sri Lanka at any time other than during the rainy season which is the months of December and January.

  6. Sridhar says:

    Thank you Ms Manju for the beautiful pics on malabar tamrind and recipe..I recently saw a video of Dr Oz ( Ex Oprah Winfrey show ) who guaranteed weight loss if you included this in you daily diet..
    Your recipe did not mention when to add the tamrind and for how much time it should boil in the curry for the taste and flavor to be well done .. Would love to know this as well..

    • Sridhar, Thank you so much for visiting my page. I am glad you enjoyed the photos, it is a beautiful fruit!
      I reviewed the recipe so please have a look.
      Thanks again for the kind note.

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  9. LEELA MATHEW says:

    Dear manju,
    I am a malayalee ammachi use kudampuly ,in my grandmas days they use it to trim down tummy after child birth,I only heard it never see any one useit.but every one likes meen curry with kudumpuly.please do a little more research on this may be a lot of malayalee ammches like me could benefit from it.
    Thank you munju.

    • Dear Leela,
      I will definitely do more research about the tummy trimming qualities of kudampuli. We all use it in our every day cooking without realising its amazing qualities. Thank you so much for visiting and for your comment. Manju

  10. Banumathi Periasamy says:

    Hi Manju,
    Thanks for the wonderful Kerala fish curry. I am in Berkeley, California. Where is malabar tamarind available here? Any idea!!!

    • Hi Banumathi,
      Thanks for visiting. I live in London and I have seen it in South Indian and Sri Lanka grocery stores here.
      I am not very sure where you can find malabar Tamarind in California.Please check the grocery stores specialising in south Indian Ingredients. I am sure they must be having it. Please let me know if you find it…

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