Mangalorean Fish curry (Meen Gassi)
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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, kingfish 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 is 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 unique 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.
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)
Mangalorean Fish curry (Meen Gassi)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 8 kadipatta (curry leaves)
- ¾ cup chopped onions finely cut
- ⅛ teaspoon ajwain seeds ground in a pestle
- ⅛ teaspoon methi seeds ground in a pestle
- 1 pound mackerel or (catfish/pomfret /tilapia) cut into the desired size
- ¼ teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 green chilies slit lengthwise
To be ground
- 7-8 pieces jaargey 1/2 teaspoon tamarind paste [ see note 1]
- 5-6 cloves garlic crushed
- ¾ cup chopped onions
- 2 tablespoons Kundapur Masala Powder see note 2
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- salt as needed
- ½ cup grated coconut
- water as needed
- In a bowl, soak jaargey in water for 6-8 hours or leave it overnight. After the stipulated time 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 1/4th - 1/2 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.
- If you have forgotten to soak jaargey in water, you can always put in hot water for 20-30 minutes to get the same effect.
- To make Kundapur masala powder for this recipe, you need - 10 byadgi chilies, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1/4 teaspoon methi seeds, 7-8 black pepper seeds. Follow the directions below to get a fine powder -
- Heat 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, pepper seeds, and fenugreek seeds) 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 and grind them to a fine powder. Store it in an airtight container for future use.
Disclaimer: Approximate nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.
Thank you for the recipe. Love the Mangalorean gassis&curries. How do you get your gassi/curry super fine.. Even though you slice&fry onions? What is the trick? Or should we grind onions fine? Thanks
I know what you are saying. I had the same issue when I started off. Cook the onions properly till they have completely softened that way they’ll not stand out in the curry. Does that make sense?
I would like to specify, that Jaargey and kudampuli are entirely two different things. While they may look almost the same, Jaargey has a slightly rough surface when compared to kudampuli or gambooje. Albeit the taste may not vary much.
Hi Doreen – Thanks for the insight. It is good to know that.
Thank you for this stunning recipe!
I first ate a fish gassi with appams at an ill-fated restaurant in Delhi run by Manu Sharma (of murderous infamy). The taste never left my imagination but I only thought every so many years later to try to reproduce it for my family. I didn’t have Jaarge on hand so I used 2 pieces of kudampuli/garcinia cambogia soaked and it worked beautifully. I also used plump white mahi-mahi fish and the contrast with the smooth spicy gravy was exquisite. Bookmarking this one!
My family loves it.
Thanks, Susan for your lovely comment. Glad your family loved the recipe.
Loved your curry…. When I was a kid, my neighbor (who was also from mangalore) used to give me this curry…. I used to relish it…. I got the same taste after decades… Thanks a millions 😀
Thank you so much for your comment, Sudipta! You made my day 🙂
Did you manage to find the english name for jaargey?
If possible can you update this blog post with a picture of how it looks.
I posted a picture of Jaargey. I will try to find out the English name as well.
Thanks for visiting!
I finally managed to get hold of Jaargey from a mangalore store that i just happend to spot today. In case anybody else in Mumbai is searching for this elusive spice then you can get it at this address
Mangalore General Stores
8, Mohammed Eidu Manzil, Opposite Paradise Cinema, 76-A, L.J. Road ( Main Road), Mahim West, Mahim, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400016
Phone:022 2445 7542
Cooking the dish now.. will let you know how it turns out.. my mouth is watering already 🙂
Thank you, Satyajeet for the Mangalore store address. I can’t wait to hear how your Meen Gassi turned out.
Actually i made a prawns gassi.. and the spice didnt make much of a difference to be honest.. even tamarind does just as well. But still if people are wondering what this is I found out. The english botanical name is garcinia cambogia. Its used in Kerala cooking predominantly and they call it Kudampuli or Gamboogee and if you do a “Buy kudampuli” search in google you will find many online sites that wil mail it to you 🙂
Thanks Satyajeet. You have been very helpful to me and my readers 🙂