The proximity of the Andhra city of Nellore to Chennai has left an imprint on Chennai’s culinary culture. I saw this influence closely when I moved to the city in 2000. Back then, there were not many good Kerala restaurants, so whenever I craved seafood, I would go to an Andhra restaurant for Nellore Fish Curry. It has a wonderful depth of flavour – tamarind and tomatoes give it acidity, and chillies add a pop of heat. Try it out and enjoy it with steamed rice.

  • Serves


  • Cook Time



  • 1 cup fish cubes
  • 2 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp gingelly oil
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek
  • 8 shallots, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3-4 dried red chillies
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, pureed
  • 3 green chillies, slit
  • 1 lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  • 1 strip curry leaves
  • Salt to taste

For Masala

  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dhaniya seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds 


  1. Soak a lemon-sized ball of tamarind in 1 cup of water. After 15 minutes, mash it into a pulp.
  2. Heat a pan and roast the masala ingredients: cumin, mustard, fenugreek and dhaniya seeds. Grind to a powder.
  3. In another pan, heat gingelly oil and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek, dried red chillies and curry leaves. Fry until curry leaves are crisp.
  4. Toss in chopped garlic, slit green chillies and chopped shallots. Add green chillies according to your taste. Fry till lightly brown.
  5. Drop in the tomato puree, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and salt.
  6. With the pan covered, simmer the gravy for 30 minutes on low flame, stirring every 5 minutes, until the oil begins to float on top.
  7. Slip in the fish cubes, bring to a boil, pour in tamarind water and let it all cook for 15 minutes on low flame.
  8. Mix the ground masala powder into the fish curry. Simmer for a minute. Remove from heat and serve hot with rice.
Regi Mathew

Regi Mathew

Regi Mathew, co-owner and culinary director of Kappa Chakka Kandhari in Chennai and Bengaluru, is Scroll Food’s Chef of the Month for September. His culinary career, which began with the Taj Group of Hotels, has taken him to several countries, where he has learnt many cuisines. After 25 years in the F&B industry, he decided to closely explore the cuisine of his home state, Kerala. For three years, he travelled through 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 in his career, including being adjudged the Chef of the Year at the Times Food Awards, Chennai, in 2018.

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