"This is a journey of my life since I was all of 12 yrs when I started my hand in cooking to now with displays of my learning and creations of recipes from around the world. My inspiration and role model has always been my Mum who has always created dishes from around the world and excellently well. I do not believe I would ever match to her culinary skills. I remember the times she could cook and bake almost 4-5 dishes in one go without ever letting one go under cooked or burnt! I was born and raised in Dubai, UAE and recently moved to India for family reasons. Kitchenette just means that over the decades, my kitchen has changed from that of my mum's to my uncle and aunt's, to my home in UAE and now in India. Pala't'te, describes both global cuisines ('Palatte'-diverse flavours) and pleasing diverse 'Palates'."

Friday, 17 August 2012

Andhra Chepala Pulusu (Tangy Tilapia Fish Curry)

I had been away for a little over a month in Kerala and have many posts to come to delight my readers. I have been asked many a time to post my Andhra cuisine adventures. Well here goes...
Tangy Tilapia Fish Curry (Chepala Pulusu)

Tilapia is a fresh water fish that is common to  Bengali cuisine in India. 'Chepala' indicates River fish or Fresh water fish. This type of 'Pulusu' preparation is indicative of the tanginess and is common to places like Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, India. Andhra dishes are quite spicy and are not for the faint hearted. This is especially because the Red Chilli Powder that you find in AP is quite spicy itself. I compare it with the likes of Kerala and it is nowhere close to the spiciness of the Chili powder in Kerala.

In most of my Indian dishes I nowadays use Kashmiri Chili Powder as it is close to the Sweet Paprika and not so spicy as the Chilli Powder I find here in AP. Also as you get older I believe the stomach lining can take only so much:)

As an alternate to Tilapia, you can use Mullet or Blue Warehou if you cannot find Tilapia in your local produce.

Remember not to stir this fish around much as I can guarantee it would break during the cooking process. When I indicate "stir" in this recipe, make sure you are rotate the pot around.

Ready to be served
This preparation goes well with boiled rice or even idlis or Appams (although Appams are not common to this region as much as in Kerala).

To make this dish,

You need:
  1. 1 kg Tilapia fish - cut into medium size pieces
  2. 2 onions - 1sliced finely lengthwise, 1 grated to a paste (with Cinnamon-optional)
  3. 4 tbsp Ginger-Garlic paste
  4. 2-3 green chillis slit lengthwise
  5. 3 medium size tomatoes diced
  6. 1-2 lemon-sized Tamarind pieces
  7. 1 bunch of cilantro or coriander leaves diced finely
  8. 1" cinnamon (optional)
  9. 2-3 tbsp of Red Chili Powder (I used Kashmiri Chili Powder)
  10. 1/2 tsp of Turmeric Powder
  11. 1 tsp of Garam Masala powder
  12. Oil - as needed or about 5-6 tbsp
  13. Salt to taste
The make

Cooking Time: 35-40 minutes| Preparation Time : 30 minutes| Serves 6 adults

  • Marinate the clean pieces of fish with 2 tbsp of ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, salt and 1 tbsp of Red Chili Powder. The longer you leave it to stand the better. You can do this for 30 minutes at minimum.
  • Heat the oil in a rounded pan or a clay pot. Fry the marinated fish pieces about a minute on each side or until lightly brown. Once this is done, set aside the fried fish and add the sliced onion and toss till translucent on medium heat in the same pot adding additional oil as required.
  • In the meantime, take the tamarind pieces and tomatoes in a small vessel and add boiling water to it and leave it to stand for about 5-10 minutes. Strain and remove all the pulp and set aside the strained juices.
  • Next add the slit green chilis to the same pot and toss for about a minute and add the remaining ginger-garlic paste and toss till light brown.
  • Add the onion paste and fry till a thick paste it formed. Next add remaining Chili Powder, Garam Masala and salt as required and blend well.
  • Bring to a boil
  • Add the tomato-tamarind juices and stir well. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes on a medium-low heat. Uncover and add water as required for the gravy and bring it to a boil. 
  • Lower the heat and add fried fish pieces and allow it to cook and blend in for about 5-10 minutes. Turn off the flame and top with diced cilantro.
Your Fish curry is now ready to be served with rice or idlis or Appams as per your choice. Bon Appetit!

Served up with rice


  1. Very nice and informative blog posting. Among all the fish, tilapia fish is Awesome! Tilapia fish farming is very profitable and easy. I like this fish very much for it's unique taste and nutritional value.

    1. Thank You Modern Farming. I do take an interest in learning more about the nutritional value of the foods I allow to enter my kitchen. Thanks to my Mum who provides her wealth of knowledge of nutritious food and its value.

  2. looks good, but what is tilapia called in malayalam

    1. From what I gather its called Kerala Karimeen although it looks different from Pearl spot (Karimeen)

  3. I tried out this recipe and it came out very well... I made few changes though... 1. While marinating I added lemon along with other ingredients... 2. I added kadi patta in onion paste 3. I added sambar powder to the gravy...

    1. Thanks for sharing your twist. Glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe.

  4. And as sambar powder is spicy I reduced ginger garlic and green chilli quantity....

    1. Did you take pictures of your version? Would be nice to see it. Do email it to me on gginazkitchenette@gmail.com


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