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.