Fish Molly / Molee / Kerala Style Fish Stew - Pepper Delight

How to make Fish Molee

Fish Molee, also spelled Meen Moilee, is a traditional dish originating from Kerala, a state in Southern India known for its picturesque backwaters and extensive spice trade with the world. This mellow yet flavorful curry represents the unique culinary traditions of Kerala, where coconuts and seafood play a fundamental role in the local cuisine.

The dish contrasts with other South Indian curries due to its relatively mild heat and the subtle interplay of spices that highlight, rather than overpower, the natural taste of the fish. ‘Meen’ means fish in Malayalam, and ‘Molee’ refers to the style of stewing it in coconut milk.

Fish Molee involves simmering fish fillets or slices in a fragrant bath of coconut milk, seasoned with fresh curry leaves, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and sometimes fenugreek seeds. The fish is gently poached in this sauce until tender, absorbing the delicate array of flavors. The use of green chilies imparts a subtle heat, which is expertly balanced by the creamy coconut milk, making this dish suitable for those who enjoy milder Indian cuisines.

Fish Molee Recipe

Fish Molly / Molee / Kerala Style Fish Stew - Pepper Delight

Fish Molee|

Molee is a Kerala-style fish stew with coconut milk. Fish molee is a Portuguese-influenced mild stew made with cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and coconut milk. Use tilapia, pomfret, or cod for this stew.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 people
Calories 574 kcal


  • 1 paper towels
  • 1 large skillet


  • 1 pound fish fillets such as tilapia, pomfret, or cod
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice divided
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil divided
  • 1 15-ounce can full-fat coconut milk (do not shake)
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 2 green chiles slit lengthwise
  • 3 curry leaf sprigs
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tomato sliced
  • 1 teaspoon red chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Line a plate with paper towels and set aside.
  • Place the fish in a large bowl and sprinkle it with turmeric, salt, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.
  • Add the fish and cook for 1 minute per side until lightly fried but not cooked through. Remove the fish from the skillet and set aside on the paper towel–lined plate to drain.
  • Open the can of coconut milk and separate the thick cream from the thinner liquid. Set aside.
  • Wipe the skillet clean, place it over medium-high heat, and heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.
  • Add the cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, for a few seconds, until fragrant.
  • Add the onion, green chiles, and curry leaves and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is transluscent.
  • Add the garlic and ginger to the skillet and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Add the tomato and chile powder and cook for about 1 minute, gently stirring so as not to break up the tomato.
  • Stir in the thinner coconut milk and the pepper, mixing well.
  • Gently lower the fish pieces on top of the curry and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, until they are cooked through.
  • Add the thicker coconut cream to the top of curry, reduce the heat to low, and let it melt into the curry. Gently stir it into the sauce without breaking up the fish.
  • Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Taste and season with salt, if needed, and serve.


Serve the curry hot alongside rice, Dosai, chapati, or Appam.
Keyword fish fillets

Cooking Tips about Fish Molee

Fish Molly Molee Kerala Style Fish Stew Pepper Delight, 52% OFF

  • Choice of Fish: Choose fish with a firm texture such as seer fish or kingfish; they hold up well in the curry without disintegrating. Make sure the fish is fresh to preserve the flavors.
  • Coconut Milk: Use freshly extracted coconut milk if possible, for its richness and sweetness. If using canned coconut milk, shake the can well before opening to combine any separated cream and liquid.
  • Layering Coconut Milk: Often, Fish Molee recipes use both thin and thick coconut milk. Start by cooking the spices in the thin milk, which is more watery, and finish with thick coconut milk added towards the end for creaminess and to avoid curdling.
  • Gentle Simmer: Avoid boiling the curry vigorously once you add the coconut milk, as this can cause it to split. Simmer gently to allow flavors to meld.
  • Balancing Flavors: The essence of Fish Molee lies in its delicate balance of flavors—mild spices and slight tanginess from tomatoes or a little vinegar. Adjust these elements to ensure no one taste overpowers the others.
  • Marination: Lightly marinate the fish with turmeric, salt, and a bit of lime or lemon juice before adding it to the curry to give it an initial layer of flavor.
  • Curry Leaves: Do not omit the curry leaves as they provide a distinctive aroma and taste that is key to the curry’s authenticity.
  • Poaching the Fish: Poach the fish gently in the simmering sauce until just cooked through. Overcooking will make the fish tough.
  • Seasoning: Check for seasoning at the end and adjust salt as per your taste. A small amount of sugar can be added if you prefer a hint of sweetness to counterbalance the acidity.
  • Resting Time: Let the Fish Molee sit for a while off the heat before serving. This resting period allows the fish to absorb the flavors fully.

Serving suggestions about Fish Molee

N8. Fish Molee - Main Menu - Chennai Cafe

  • Appam: These lacy, bowl-shaped rice pancakes are a quintessential Keralite delicacy. The spongy center of appam soaks up the rich coconut milk-based gravy beautifully.
  • Steamed Rice: A simple plate of steamed basmati or Kerala matta rice offers a neutral background that allows the subtle flavors of Fish Molee to shine.
  • Bread: Soft white bread or dinner rolls can also be used to mop up the gravy, giving a more continental flair to the meal.
  • Idiyappam: Also known as string hoppers, these rice flour noodles are another traditional accompaniment that pairs well with the creamy texture of Fish Molee.
  • Vegetable Side Dishes: Lightly seasoned vegetable stir-fries or thoran (a Keralan dish made with vegetables, grated coconut, mustard seeds, and curry leaves) work well as a side dish, offering a contrast in texture and freshness.
  • Pickles and Chutneys: To add a bit of zing to the meal, serve with mild pickles or chutneys like mango or lime.
  • Salads: A simple Kachumber salad made from onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers can provide a refreshing counterpoint to the flavors of the curry.
  • Papadums: Crisp papadums on the side will add a pleasant crunch to the meal.

Top 5 FAQs about Fish Molee

Fish Molee Recipe – How To Make Fish Molee - Licious

  • What type of fish is most suitable for Fish Molee?
    Seer fish or kingfish are commonly preferred for their firm texture that holds up well in the curry. However, other fish varieties such as pomfret are also used in Fish Molee.
  • Can I use canned coconut milk instead of fresh coconut milk?
    Yes, you can use canned coconut milk. Shake the can well before opening to mix any separated cream and liquid. For the most authentic taste, fresh coconut milk is recommended if available.
  • How do I prevent the coconut milk from curdling in the curry?
    To avoid curdling, do not bring the curry to a boil once the coconut milk has been added. Instead, simmer gently and add the thicker milk towards the end of cooking time.
  • Is Fish Molee spicy?
    Fish Molee is known for its mild heat, with green chilies adding just a subtle kick. The creamy coconut milk balances the mild spices, making it suitable for those who prefer milder Indian cuisines.
  • What are the best accompaniments for Fish Molee?
    Fish Molee is traditionally served with appam (rice pancakes), steamed rice, or bread. These accompaniments help soak up the flavorful curry and complement the creamy texture of the dish.

In conclusion, Fish Molee is an exquisite representation of Kerala’s rich culinary heritage, offering an explosion of flavors while maintaining a delicate balance that respects the primary ingredient – the fish. This dish exemplifies the ingenuity of Keralan cuisine, combining the local bounty of fresh seafood with the versatility of coconut milk, and a tempered mix of spices to produce a curry that is both comforting and nuanced.


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