Our menu at Kappa Chakka Kandhari, of which this recipe is a part, is a tribute to the food I grew up with and to mothers’ cooking. A mother’s recipe is a pathway to childhood memories. It is created not through well-documented notes, but through spontaneity and estimation.

Karimeen, or pearl spot fish, is a favourite of the sea-food lovers in Kerala. Living in the backwaters, the fish gets uniquely flavoured with the salinity of the seawater and the sweetness of the freshwater. At the toddy shops in the state, it is shallow fried in coconut oil. This recipe comes from one such toddy shop.

  • Serves


  • Cook Time



  • 4 Karimeen or pearl spot fish, cleaned and with head intact
  • 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp pepper powder
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Coconut oil for frying


  1. In a bowl, mix the ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, red chilli, pepper, salt and lemon juice.
  2. Smear the masala on the Karimeen and leave for 30 minutes.
  3. Deep fry in coconut oil. Serve hot.
Regi Mathew

Regi Mathew

A champion of ethnic cuisine, leading Indian chef Regi Mathew is the Co-Owner and Culinary Director of Kappa Chakka Kandhari, a popular Kerala cuisine restaurant in Chennai that recently opened another space in Bengaluru. Chef Regi’s culinary career, which began with the Taj Group of Hotels, has taken him to several countries and enabled him to learn many cuisines. After 25 years in the F&B industry, he decided to closely explore the cuisine of his home state, Kerala. He spent three years travelling the state, researching its food, and working with 265 housewives and 70 toddy shops, some of whom are now part of the restaurant’s kitchen. He has won several accolades through his career, including being adjudged the Chef of the Year at the Times Food Awards, Chennai, in 2018. Kappa Chakka Kandhari, Chennai, was ranked No 23 at the Conde Nast Top Restaurant Awards 2019.

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