Fish Moilee

I hope you had a good Mother’s day. I hope you didn’t post a selfie of yourself with your mother. That would seem too much of a cliché I’d think. I am sorry if I offended those who did. In my family, we don’t hug. We don’t crowd our heads together for selfies. Wish someone “Happy Birthday” and they’ll get awkward and reply “Ok, sure”. Try getting everyone into a family picture and you may very well give up the idea of family pictures forever. The entire family has difficulty expressing affection. They’ll make biryani, chicken kurma to say “welcome back, I missed you”, they’ll heap Himampasand mangoes to say “take care”. This family doesn’t recognize Mothers day, Fathers day and such. I dared to try.

Fish Moilee

I decided to gift my mother a leisurely no-cooking day. I made green peas brinji, poori, vegetable kurma, fish fry and mango parfait. I told my mother to not cook anything for the day. She being who she is made just an Upma, some more kuzhambu, rice and seppankezhangu fry, nothing else. She has no idea of Mothers day. I tell her while I serve the brinji I made. “Oho sari sari”, she says. She enjoyed the meal.

I am not going to take any chances with my kids. I start a day earlier. I tell them all about Mothers day.

I tell Hasini and Yuvan – “It is Mothers day tomorrow”. I explain the concept to them. I dwell on the part about making it special for the mother.

I then ask Yuvi – “What are you going to do tomorrow?”

“I am going to ride my cycle”

I look at Jagan for any signs of training. He seems surprised and amused.

Hasini was very excited about getting me a present for mother’s day. She pushed us out from the couch, into the car and to the store to get me a cotton top. I really do love the top.

Fish Moilee

I had a lot of leftover fish from Mother’s day that I was wont to fry. I made Fish Moilee instead. I learnt this recipe on one of our trips to Kerala. I cannot believe I’ve waited so long to make it. You could use this basic stew recipe and substitute prawns instead of the fish to make Prawn Moilee. This is one of those fragrant, delicately spiced but gorgeously flavourful stews that can be served with Idiyappams or Appams. It’s the best. Try it!

Fish Moilee


Fish Moilee

Fish Moilee

Jayanthi Padmanabhan
Fragrant, delicately spiced kerala style Fish stew that pairs beautifully with Idiyappams and Appams!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Servings 4


  • Fish – ½ kilo in slices I used Seer fish
  • Coconut milk – from 1 whole coconut about 2 cups first and second extract kept separate
  • Ginger – 2 inches peeled and minced
  • Green chillies – 7-8 chopped fine
  • Onion – 1 medium chopped fine
  • Mustard seeds – ¾ tsp
  • Curry leaves – 3 stems
  • Turmeric powder – ¾ tsp + 1 tsp
  • Black pepper powder – 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder – 1 tsp optional
  • Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves – a handful chopped
  • Coconut oil – 1 tbsp + 3 tbsp


  • Clean fish and pat dry. Rub 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp red chilli powder and salt on the fishes and set aside for 10 minutes.
  • Heat a pan. Add 3 tbsp oil and fry the fish slices until cooked through, not necessary to brown them. Remove the fried fishes to a plate.
  • Pour the extra oil from the pan into a kadai. Pour the remaining 1 tbsp oil also into the kadai. When the oil is hot, add in cinnamon and mustard seeds and let the mustard splutter.
  • Add the chopped onions, ginger and green chillies, three-fourths of the curry leaves and fry till the onions turn translucent.
  • Add turmeric powder and mix well. Pour in the thin second extract of the coconut milk. Add salt and black pepper powder. Mix well.
  • When the mixture comes to a boil, drop in the cooked fish pieces. Pour in the second extract of coconut milk. Add in the remaining curry leaves and chopped coriander leaves. Mix gently. Taste and adjust seasoning. Turn heat to low and cook till the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Switch off. Serve hot with idiyappams or Appams. Enjoy!
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