Meen Molly – Kerala Style Fish Stew

A must try for all fish lovers!! This one is aptly cooked at the onset of summer, in the month of April, when you may crave the protein but prefer to avoid the usual rich, oily and spicy curries. Incidentally this is the first recipe I learnt post-marriage from my mother-in-law, as none of them are overly fond of spice, yet love their seafood!

Let me begin by sending out warm wishes for a blessed and Happy Easter to everyone! A slight aberration from the theme of this month today, for the festival that is joyfully celebrated the world over on the Sunday after a period of 40 days of abstinence. Christians everywhere, offer prayers and remember the sacrifice of Lord Jesus Christ, while also celebrating and giving thanks for him rising again.

Every festival brings with it a whole host of popular delicacies to be enjoyed during the time. In South India, one such dish synonymous with Easter is the Syrian Christian favourite, Meen Moilee or Fish Molly / Molee (which ever way you would prefer to spell it).

Essentially a mildly spiced stew made out of coconut milk, it relies largely on a medley of ginger, green chillies and pepper for its spice quotient. This completely allows the delicate flavours of the fish to take centre stage, making it a gustatory delight for all palates! Definitely unlike most other Kerala fish curries that use a combination of red/green chillies, shallots, a strong souring agent such as kodumpuli (like kokum) or tamarind along with cumin & coconut for its flavours.

I have always been intrigued by the uniqueness of this mild dish from God’s Own Country and always wondered about the origins of the name. Was it a Malayali word or the name of a person? Well as the story goes, apparently when the Portuguese landed in coastal Kerala in search of new colonies, they naturally found it a spice haven and settled in quickly, blending their own food and culture with that of the locals. It is then that necessity being the mother of invention, a local woman named Molly / Molee is said to have toned down the spice levels of the regular local fish curry for the Westerners, by swapping the red chillies’ with coconut milk, that was available in plenty. The Portuguese were said to be so overjoyed that they named the dish after the Malayali lady.

Either ways, whether that’s a locally cooked up story or not, you must try making this addictive Meen Molee. And hey, don’t forget to think of Molly while cooking Fish Molly!

Recipe for Meen Molly – Kerala Style Fish Stew


For the marinade

  • ½ kg Seer fish / Pomfret steaks or slices
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder / haldi
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • Salt to taste

For the stew

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil / any other mild flavoured oil
  • 1 inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3-4 green chilies, slit
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 1 potato, cut into thin round slices (optional)
  • 2 cups thin coconut milk (2nd extract)
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk (1st extract)
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tomato, cut into round slices
  • Salt to taste


  1. Clean the fish slices, pat them dry & marinate with lemon juice, pepper, salt and turmeric powder for 15-20 minutes.
  2. In a pan, add 3 tbsp coconut oil and lightly fry the fish slices for 2-3 minutes per side on medium flame. Keep aside.
  3. In the same pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil on a medium flame. Add curry leaves, minced ginger, garlic and green chilies. Sauté for a minute until the raw smell disappears.
  4. Add the sliced onions and sauté until it turns translucent, ensuring not to brown the onions.
  5. Now add the potato slices if using & then the pepper powder and thin coconut milk. Close the lid and allow the curry to boil for 4-5 minutes on a medium flame. When the oil starts separating and the potato is cooked, reduce the flame to a low.
  6. Now add the fried fish and lemon juice, mix well. Avoid stirring once the fish is added, simply spoon some gravy onto the fish or rotate the pan. This will prevent the slices from breaking.
  7. Add the thick coconut milk and cook covered on a low flame for another 2 minutes, avoid it reaching a boil now.
  8. Open the lid, add sliced round tomatoes and more curry leaves. Check for salt/pepper.
  9. Close the lid and switch off the flame. Let the tomato cook only in the remaining steam.
  10. Usually tastes best with Appam, Rice or Bread.


  • Fish like tilapia, salmon, Seer fish, pomfret or red snapper can be used to make this stew.
  • Locally available Duck is also cooked in Kerala using this recipe.
  • This recipe differs from stew in the use of spices that it uses.
  • Coconut oil is ideal for all authentic Kerala recipes, but Sunflower or rice bran or any mild flavoured oil will do.
  • Apologies for the fish is slightly overcooked here. I usually add the uncooked fish directly into the pan without pre-frying.
  • Here I have done it the traditional way and fried it first. You can do it either ways.

4 thoughts on “Meen Molly – Kerala Style Fish Stew

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