If you have loved fish cuisine in all its different forms, this easy-to-prepare tangy dry fish chutney will be a welcome addition to your staple diet. Fish (or meen as they call in Tulu) chutney paired with the nutritious Ganji (brown rice porridge or gruel) is comfort food at its best.
Gazing out on a rainy day in Chicago, my mind flashes back to Bombay (Mumbai) a city that sees rains in its full fury; a whole season devoted to the monsoons. For a coastal city with some of the best seafood, the monsoons ensure fishermen stay away and fresh fish is pretty much unavailable. Yet, fish lovers aren’t morose, with some of the best dishes with dried fish being cooked up in this season.
The rain brings back those memories – walking back home from school in my raincoat to the door opening to those wafting flavors of fish/meen chutney.
How to make dry fish / nungel meen chutney
If you haven’t heard of dried fish (nungel meen) chutney before, it is a tangy and spicy chutney, made from dried fish, usually a shrimp, mackerel, anchovies or shark fish. A popular side dish with fish-eating communities across India, fish chutney is made by slow roasting dried fish in a bit of oil and coarsely grinding the roasted fish with freshly grated coconut, garlic cloves, and a few other spices. Finally, a tad bit of tamarind is added to bring about the right amount of tanginess in the dish.
For years, having moved to the US, I’d assumed eating fish chutney would be confined to those India visits. That was until we discovered dried anchovies in our local store and I couldn’t wait to make it. My kids wrinkled their noses at first but having tasted it, their gustatory senses won over the olfactory ones 🙂
Pair this meen chutney with yogurt rice (dahi rice) or Ganji dish and it will instantly add that extra bit of flavor to your meal, making it an absolute lip smacker.
How to make dry fish / nungel meen chutney with Kundapur masala powder
Substitute byadgi chilies, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns and fenugreek seeds with 3 tablespoons of Kundapur masala powder. This will save you time and effort associated with roasting these spices.
- 50 gms dried fish (dried shark fish, anchovies or dried prawns/shrimp)
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 8-10 byadgi chilies (can substitute with Kashmiri chillies)
- 1 tablespoon coriander(dhania) seeds
- ¼ teaspoon cumin (jeera) seeds
- a pinch of fenugreek (methi) seeds
- a pinch of carom (ajwain) seeds
- 8-10 whole black pepper
- ½ a teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ cup onions, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon tamarind paste (size of a small marble if using fresh tamarind)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 cups freshly grated coconut
- Slowly roast the dried fish over medium-low heat for approximately 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat when the fish has turned crispy and can easily be broken to pieces. Break them into bite size pieces and discard the tail (if using shark fish or thatte). Set it aside to cool.
- Heat a teaspoon of coconut oil in a medium sized pan and over medium heat.
- Add chilies to it and roast them till an aroma emanates from it. Remove the chilies and keep it aside.
- Roast remaining ingredients (coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, ajwain and fenugreek seeds and turmeric powder) for a minute or till it turns aromatic. Set it aside to cool it down (for approximately 10 minutes)
- Transfer them to a blender along with the chilies, onions, garlic and tamarind paste and grind them to a fine paste. Add the coconut and pulse 2-3 times. Transfer the coconut-spice powder to a bowl and mix the fried fish.
- Store in an air-tight container in a refrigerator and consume within 4-5 days.
This recipe definitely recreated my childhood memories, and hope it creates new memories for you and your kids.
Do you have any questions about this fish chutney recipe? Leave a comment below, and I will be happy to help.