Andhra Chepa Pulusu – Fish Cooked in Tamarind Sauce



Today is the third day of Sankranti festival and is called ‘Kanuma’ ..traditionally its the day devoted to giving thanks to cattle. Cows and bulls in the villages are adorned with bells on their neck and offered prasadam (food offering). Non-vegetarian delicacies are cooked and all the younger members of the family pay their respects to the elders and the elders gift them money and clothes. According to tradition followed since our forefathers, the new sons-in-law of the family are treated to lavish lunch spread with authentic Andhra non-vegetarian flavours like gongura mamasam (mutton cooked in red sorrel leaves), chepa pulusu (fish cooked in spicy tangy tamarind sauce), kodi kura (chicken curry), royallu vepudu (prawns/shrimp fry) and many more.. on ‘Kanuma’ day.

We had a very sumptuous lunch spread this afternoon with non-vegetarian delicacies being the ‘theme’. During the festive season all the woman folk of the family lend a helping hand in the kitchen and since it’s a large family gathering everybody puts in their best effort to prepare the best tasting food possible that isn’t too hot and has a nice balance of spices with aromatic flavors. They say “Too many cooks spoil the broth” ..well that quote sure doesn’t apply here as many cooks add a lot of love, spice and flavor to the dishes being cooked this festive season. :) Its fun and that’s what celebrating festivals is all about – a day of sharing, caring, laughter and relaxation.

Today I tried my hand at cooking a traditional Andhra fish gravy recipe, Chepa Pulusu, which is amma’s speciality dish. Chepa Pulusu is fresh fish cooked in a tangy tamarind sauce with freshly ground spices. This particular dish tastes best the next day (after the fish pieces are soaked in the tamarind and spice juices) served with hot steamed white rice and sliced onions. Must say that everyone enjoyed the dish though I felt it was no where compared to amma’s Chepa pulusu. I have come to realise that when I cook traditional recipes, they are so close to my heart as I have grown up eating amma’s cooking and observing how she combines it all together to make the most tasteful dish one can ever eat. I guess it’s the hand of amma’s love. :)

Ingredients:

7-8 fish fillets (mackarel or catfish or tilapia)
1 cup finely chopped onions
4 slit green chillis
1 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp cumin pwd
1 tsp coriander pwd
1 1/2 tsp red chilli pwd
1/4 tsp turmeric pwd
10-12 curry leaves
1 big lemon-sized tamarind pulp (soak tamarind in 1 1/2 cup of warm water and extract thick juice)
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves (optional)
salt to taste
1/2 cup oil

Tempering:
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp methi seeds (fenugreek)

Heat oil in a wide vessel and add the mustard seeds and let them splutter.Add the methi seeds and let it brown.Add the curry leaves and stir for a few seconds.
Add the chopped onions and fry on medium heat till the onions turn transparent. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for 3 mts. Add the turmeric pwd, coriander pwd, cumin pwd, red chilli pwd and salt and fry for a minute. Add the tamarind extract and bring it to boil.
Now carefully place the fish pieces in the vessel and cook covered for 3 mts. Add the green chillis. Turn the fish pieces over and cook. Cover and cook on low heat for 10 mts. Let the sauce thicken and till the oil separates or leaves. Adjust salt and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Note: Do not stir too much lest the fish pieces break and be gentle while stirring the fish pieces. Serve it after a couple of hours of cooking so that the fish pieces absorb the tangy flavour of the tamarind sauce and spices. In Andhra, we generally prepare this pulusu with Koramenu, Vanjaram, Thella chepa or Bocha. Generally we dry roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and dry red chillis and make a powder for this dish.You can use the ready made powders also to save time. But if you have time to spare it would be best to dry roast the spices and make a powder.

Andhra Chepa Pulusu – Fish Cooked in Tamarind Sauce

  • Prep time:
  • Cook time:
  • Serves:

Main Ingredients:

  1. fish

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Today is the third day of Sankranti festival and is called ‘Kanuma’ ..traditionally its the day devoted to giving thanks to cattle. Cows and bulls in the villages are adorned with bells on their...

Sailu

I'm a food blogger, food photographer and organic gardener based out of India. I enjoy cooking for my family using fresh produce from my vegetable garden and farmer's market. I love to try out various cuisines and perfect my cooking skills. I believe that hard work, self-discipline, and a positive attitude cannot help but reap a harvest of fantastic results. Say hello and join me on Pinterest, Google Plus, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

38 Responses

  1. Meena says:

    Wow Sailu!!

    I love fish in a tamarind based curry, my mom makes one Malay style and its my favourite. I have the recipe here,

    http://hookedonheat.blogspot.com/2005/09/i-smell-something-fishy.html

    I hope you like it. I’ll definitely try your recipe!

    And thanks for your wishes!! :o)

  2. Zoubida says:

    Hello Sailu,
    I hope you’re enjoying your festival.
    This fish recipe sounds so flavorful ! All of a sudden I feel hungry for it. I too will definetly try it.
    Thank you for sharing it along with tidbits of your fascinating culture.

  3. sailu says:

    Your welcome,Meena.I will check out the link of your mom’s recipe.

    I sure am enjoying the festivities here,Zoubida.You will love this fish recipe.

  4. Paz says:

    This recipe sounds like a feast indeed! I like all kinds of fish dishes. I also like to read and learn about other traditions. Thanks for sharing, Sailu!

    Paz

  5. Kay says:

    Sailu, I love fish curries, esp the tamarind based ones! I have to try your recipe sometime.

  6. sailu says:

    It’s sure is a feast,Paz.

    Kay,do let me know how it turned out.

  7. Vamsee says:

    OHHhhhh! this is my all time fav! chaapala pulusu…abba, I am drooling all over!

  8. Ram says:

    Can I use the same recipe for Peethalu (crab) pulusu?
    It some how turned a little bitter (chedu).. what could I have possibly done wrong?

    btw, thanks for all those wonderful recipes! really appreciate it.

  9. sailu says:

    Thank you Vamsee..:)

    Hi Ram,I am glad you tried it out.
    Probably you added too much methi..just a pinch is enough.Once the tamarind extract is added..it must boil till rawness disappears and then fish should be added and the amount of tamarind added should be just enough and not too much as it can get too tangy.And not all varieties of fish taste good when cooked in a pulusu.

  10. ram says:

    Thanks Sailu, I will keep it in mind next time. I don’t know much about the fishes available here in US. I found some place where they sell live fish .. so, just got what ever had the least bones (mullu) :).

  11. Kirthi says:

    Hi Sailu, I tried the fish pulusu and it turned out great. Was a real hit among all family members. Thanks so much for sharing such wonderful recipes :)

    Kirthi

  12. mae gabriel says:

    Everytime i come here, i drool over this photo…

  13. Thanks Sailu. I have taken the recipe a prinout and gonna try today in my home. Thanks :)

  14. Madhu says:

    Hi Shailu,
    I am new to your blog. I really enjoyed the recipes u have posted. Its really detailed and great pictures. I want to thank you for doing this coz there are lot of people like me who dont know much about cooking and it really makes it easy for us to follow the instructions and get praises from everyone from home. My aunt makes masala puri and I love it soo much. I have asked her for the recipe but she doesnt like to share. I am really craving so bad for it I am in US and my aunt is in India, so I cant ask her to make it for me. If u know the recipe pls post it. I would really appriciate it. Thank you so much. Keep up the good work.
    Madhu

    Thank you Madhu, for your kind words. I am so happy to hear that the recipes are helping
    you in your kitchen and earning your praises..:).I will post Masala Puri recipe for you, Madhu.

  15. sharmi says:

    hai thanks for the recipes

  16. reshma says:

    hi sailu, how r u? i tred your recipe, its very tasty. thanks for the recipe.

  17. prasu says:

    hi sailu, thanks a lot i was waiting for this recepie my mom used to do in the same way but i forgot it
    so thanks a lot and i have a doubt, can we fry cat fish prior to cooking it because some fish cannot be fried so pls let me know about it.
    thank u

    For chepa pulusu, there is no need to fry the fish, Prasu.

  18. shanthi says:

    Hi sailu , I have checked ur chepala pulusu n I know it tastes great but nothing like what our moms used to make.I also add alittle bit of coconut paste raw to it n it really tastes good

  19. malati says:

    Iam 7th month pregnant and secrched for this recipe and found urs,, nice pic ,, mouthwatering :). tried last time with talapia and was good, now trying with catfish.Thnx for the dish .

  20. poonam srinivas says:

    hi sailu garu,
    mee recipes ki chaala tnxx andi..i always chk ur website wen i have any doubts in cooking or wenever i need some yummy authentic andhra recipes..Pls continue ur great work..mee chapala pulusu recipe nenu try chesanu..taste adhirindi.. :)

  21. kumar raja says:

    Hi, sailu garu !! chepala pulusu chesetappudu gravy chikkaga ravadam ledu!! koddiga cheppandi elago??

    Maybe you added too much water than required. Even if you did add more water, let it boil for a while longer than required to thicken.

  22. Kanchan says:

    Hi Sailu,
    Just wanted to let you know that I enjoy your blog a lot and have tried a few recipes which have turned out GREAT! i saw this (Chepala Puslusu) recipe and picture of the dish on another blog “I am hungry” copied word to word. Plagiarism comes to mind. Please check it out.

    Thanks for informing me, Kanchan.

  23. Deepa says:

    oops, someone already got to you Sailu, I just finished mailing you abt the same comment as above, anyway the post on that site is still there…u might want to check it out.

  24. BHAGYA says:

    shailu,
    repu try chestanu, bagunte neeto malli kalustanu.

    bye.
    from bangalore.

  25. Sree says:

    Sailaja – Fish curry turned out very well and I did not botch this time. Your instructions are easy and simple to follow.

    Would you please post recipes for Fish fry and Mutton Gongura? Thanks much.

  26. Nithya says:

    Will this work with salmon?

  27. srividya says:

    sailu can you post crab curry with tamarind sauce? i love that curry. since ure on seashore im sure u get fresh crabs.
    another suggestion for your site. you make awesome recipes something ladies of our generation wouldnt make. but i wish u would take better pictures. often the pictures dont represent the dishes very well. indira of mahanandi makes all experimental dishes, her measures are not right most of the time. but her pictures are awesome. im not comparing u with her, but if take bigger and more sophisticated pictures your site would be a hit!!

  28. Rayna says:

    Hi sailu,
    I tried this recipe and it turned out GREAT ! I tried it with Tilapia & it was mindblowing..Its funny..Its so simple yet so refreshingly..
    THanks a lot fo rthat recipe

  29. Anonymous says:

    Sailu – Hands down, this curry turns out fantastic everytime. Thank you for this wonderful website.

  30. sirisha says:

    Mine tasted better the next day (as it should)…

    Thanks Sailu!

  31. shisha says:

    wow its really mouth watering, thanks for sharing :)

  32. shisha says:

    wow its really mouth watering, thanks for sharing :)

  33. Uma says:

    Hi sailu, I tried this fish pulusu, its awesome except tempering. Thanks for sharing.

  34. maddy says:

    ur a darling shailu , thankz a lot 4 ur recipies u make us feel at home , without u our day is incomplete ,just finished with chapala pulusu

  35. Siri says:

    Can we use bommidalu with same recipe

  36. Barbie says:

    Hi Sailu, I’ve been using your recipes for a while and this one turned out really well. (I know it turns out good when my Andhra husband finishes a big plate full and checks to make sure there is enough left for the next meal too!) So…thank you!

  1. January 10, 2007

    […] Chicken masala balls have a hot and spicy aroma that fills the room while being cooked and a flavor that makes these party appetizers almost impossible to resist. I’ve made this recipe twice these past few days and I can tell you, it’s a keeper, guaranteed to add flavor to a festive day like Kanuma. Serve as a snack/appetizer or as a side dish with rice and curry. […]

  2. January 4, 2008

    […] tangy taste and an aroma that is a delight to the senses. A delicacy prepared in most homes on Kanuma, the third day of our traditional harvest festival, […]

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