Amaze your friends and family with this dish – tangy and spicy Mangalorean Fish curry or as it’s locally called, ‘Meen Gassi‘. If you were wondering what Meen Gassi stands for – Meen means fish in quite a few South Indian languages and Gassi is a Mangalorean term for curry.
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The most honest endorsement (or evidence) of a dish well done is a child lapping it up in record time and asking for a second helping.
Our four-year-old is normally fond of curries but has exacting standards, so to see her ask for more is always a joy.
This Mangalorean version of fish curry is one of my favorites – and the writer here is not Anu, but her better half (I use that term very sparingly!). Making this dish marked my elevation from the ‘the dad who can only fry fish’ to a full meal provider on a weekend.
What is Meen Gassi?
Meen Gassi (Mangalorean fish curry) is a popular dish served with rice in the coastal area of Mangalore, located in the southern state of Karnataka, India. Various types of fish curries are popular along the long coastline starting from Goa to Mangalore and further south to Kerala.
The urban metropolis of Mumbai (Bombay) also has quite a few restaurants that serve this dish in the form of Pomfret Gassi with the authentic flavors, but nothing quite beats making it at home with fresh fish. The most common types of fish used for this dish are Pomfret, Mackerel (Bangude), Lady Fish (Kane) or Sardines (Boothai).
For those located outside India, despair not – a lot of fish taste just as fantastic in this gassi masala. Try it with Tilapia, catfish, king fish and even shrimp or prawns.
How to make Meen Gassi
This lightly spiced dish with the tangy flavor gets its flavor from Jaargey (picture below). Jaargey are the dried exterior of a fruit local to Mangalore. It is soaked in water overnight or a minimum of 6 hours. The water turns a pale yellow and has a uniquely tangy flavor – a tad sour but mostly something that just excites your taste buds.
Now, I fully understand that a unique ingredient such as jaargey may not be easily available to you if you don’t live in India, so again, despair not, tamarind that’s a lot more universally available, does the job just as well. (Note – if you live in India, most Mangalorean stores carry jaargey).
Once you have decided the ingredient to make the curry tangy, the next step is to make the masala. It requires spices such as Byadgi chilies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black pepper seeds and fenugreek (methi) seeds to be roasted, before being ground into a fine masala or paste along with other ingredients such as grated coconut, onions, tomatoes, and garlic. Alternatively, you can substitute the spices with Kundapur Masala Powder to reduce the prep time.
Follow the recipe below to make this authentic Mangalorean style fish curry. For all you know, your kid might ask for a second helping as well and make your day.
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 sprig of kadipatta (curry leaves)
- ½ of medium sized onion, finely cut (~3/4th cup of chopped onions)
- a pinch of ajwain seeds and methi seeds, ground in a pestle
- 1 pound of mackerel or catfish or pomfret or tilapia, cut into the desired size
- ¼ teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 green chilies, slit lengthwise
- 7-8 pieces of jaargey or ½ teaspoon tamarind paste [ see note 1]
- 5-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
- ½ of medium sized onion, chopped (~3/4th cup of chopped onions)
- 2 tablespoons Kundapur Masala Powder (see note 2)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- salt to taste
- ½ cup grated coconut
- water as needed
- In a bowl, soak jaargey in water for 6-8 hours or leave it overnight. The next morning, remove the soaked jaargey pieces from the water and discard it. Pass the water through a sieve to remove any remnant bits of jaargey. Set the jaargey water aside.
- Heat oil in a kadhai or a wok over medium heat. Once hot, add mustard seeds to it. As they start spluttering, add kadipatta to the oil. Let it fry for around 20 seconds and then add onions and fry them till they are translucent. Add ground ajwain and methi seeds and mix well. Reduce heat to low.
- Grind garlic, onions, coconut, salt, turmeric, chili powder, Kundapur masala powder and jaargey water to make it into a fine paste. (Note - to save time, you can also grind this gassi masala as the onions are frying). Also, if you are using tamarind paste, make sure to add approximately ¼th - ½ cup water or as needed while grinding the masala.
- Add the ground paste to the onions and add 1 cup of water or enough water to make it into a curry like consistency. Increase heat to medium-high.
- When the gravy starts to boil, add the cut fish, green chilies, and grated ginger and cook until done.
- Serve hot with steamed rice.
Note 2 - To make Kundapur masala powder for this recipe - you need 10 byadgi chilies,1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, ¼ teaspoon methi seeds, 7-8 black pepper seeds.
1. Heat oil in a medium sized pan and over medium heat.
2. Add chilies to it and roast them till an aroma emanates from it. Remove the chilies and keep it aside.
3. Roast remaining ingredients (coriander seeds, cumin seeds, pepper seeds and fenugreek seeds) for a minute or till it turns aromatic. Set it aside to cool it down (for approximately 10 minutes)
4.Transfer them to a blender along with the chilies and grind them to a fine powder. Store it in an airtight container for future use.
Other Mangalorean recipes that may interest you
- Kori Gassi (Mangalorean chicken curry)
- Kori ajadina or chicken sukka (Dry chicken dish)
- Shrimp Ajadina (Dry shrimp/prawn Curry)
- Yeti Gassi (Shrimp curry)
- Bhuthai Gassi (Sardines in a Mangalorean gravy)
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