Andhra Chepala Pulusu (Nellore Chepala Pulusu) Fish Curry In Telugu -  YouTube

How to make Fish Pulusu

To give you a brief introduction, Fish Pulusu is typically made with fish simmered in a tamarind-based sauce with spices like mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, chilli powder, turmeric, garlic, and onions. The tamarind gives the dish its characteristic tang, while the other spices contribute to a rich depth of flavor.

Fish Pulusu is often enjoyed with rice, as the grains are perfect for soaking up the delicious, flavorful gravy. It may also be served with flatbreads like chapati or roti. The dish embodies the warmth and vibrance of Andhra cooking, bringing together various elements like sourness from tamarind, heat from red chili powder, and aroma from the other spices for a delightful culinary experience.

Fish Pulusu Recipe

Andhra Chepala Pulusu (Nellore Chepala Pulusu) Fish Curry In Telugu -  YouTube

Fish Pulusu

Most South Indian stews are tamarind-based, making them tangy and spicy. But when served with rice and a dollop of ghee or sesame oil, the flavors are well balanced. This easy-to-make fish curry is from Telugu, and it can be prepared with tilapia, catfish, or mackerel. Be sure to prepare extra for the next day, because the fish will soak up even more flavor from the curry overnight.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 people
Calories 846 kcal


  • 1 blender


  • 1/3 cup seedless tamarind block soaked in 2 cups boiling water for 30 minutes
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Pinch fenugreek seeds
  • 2 curry leaf sprigs
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 green chiles finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons red chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 pound boneless skinless fish fillets, such as tilapia, catfish, or mackerel
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)


  • Stir the tamarind and the water it has been soaking in. Using your fingers, remove the tamarind flesh and squeeze the juice from the pods, removing any fibers and membranes as well. Pour the mixture into a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl and use a spoon to press as much of the pulp as possible through the strainer. Set the tamarind pulp aside.
  • In a blender or food processor, purée the tomatoes. Set aside.
  • In a large pot over medium heat, heat the vegetable oil. Add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and cook until they begin to sputter, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in the curry leaves.
  • Add the onion and green chiles. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the onion is transluscent.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.
  • Stir in the tomatoes and tamarind pulp, followed by the chile powder, cumin, coriander, pepper, and turmeric. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Carefully lower the fish fillets onto the curry. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets and cook for 5 to 10 minutes more, until the fish is cooked through and the oil begins to separate and rise to the top. Season with salt and garnish with cilantro (if using).


Serve this curry with rice.
Keyword fish fillets, tamarind block

Cooking Tips about Fish Pulusu

Fish Curry (Fish Masala) - Tea for Turmeric

  • Choosing the Fish: Opt for fish with firm flesh that holds up well to simmering, like snapper, kingfish, or catfish. Freshness is crucial for flavor and texture.
  • Balancing Sourness: Since tamarind is a key ingredient for the tangy flavor of Fish Pulusu, adjust the amount according to personal taste and the sourness of the tamarind you’re using.
  • Extracting Tamarind Juice: Soak the tamarind in warm water and extract the juice by squeezing it well. This ensures you get a smooth sauce without chunks of tamarind.
  • Tempering Spices: Crackle your mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, garlic, and curry leaves in oil first. This releases their flavors, which are foundational for the curry’s aroma and taste.
  • Sautéing Onions and Tomatoes: Cook the onions until they are golden brown and the tomatoes until they are mushy to create a rich base for your curry.
  • Seasoning: Add spices like chili powder, turmeric, and salt to the sautéed onions and tomatoes. Cook the masala well until the oil separates, ensuring that the spices are adequately roasted and integrated into the gravy.
  • Simmering: After adding the fish to the gravy, simmer on low heat to prevent breaking the pieces and to allow the flavors to penetrate the fish.
  • Thickness of Gravy: Adjust the thickness of the pulusu by adding water; some prefer it thin and soupy while others may like it slightly thicker.
  • Finishing Touch: Finish off with a garnish of chopped cilantro for freshness and a dash of fenugreek powder (methi powder) for an aromatic touch, if desired.
  • Resting Before Serving: Let the Fish Pulusu rest for a little while after cooking to let the flavors meld together before serving.

Serving suggestions about Fish Pulusu

Fish Curry (Fish Masala) - Tea for Turmeric

  • Rice: A bowl of hot, white rice pairs perfectly with Fish Pulusu, making for a comforting and filling meal.
  • Flatbreads: You could also offer flatbreads such as roti or chapati to dip into the gravy, although rice is more traditional.
  • Vegetable Sides: A stir-fried or lightly seasoned vegetable dish, perhaps made with okra (bhindi), eggplant (brinjal), or gourds could be a nice addition.
  • Pickle and Chutneys: Andhra cuisine is famous for its pickles (achar) and chutneys (pachadi), so a spicy mango pickle or a peanut chutney would add an extra layer of flavor to the meal.
  • Papadams: Crisp papadams can provide a crunchy texture that contrasts nicely with the soft fish and the soupy gravy.
  • Yogurt or Raita: A dollop of fresh yogurt or a cucumber raita could counterbalance the heat of the dish if it is particularly spicy.
  • Lemon Wedges: It’s common to serve lemon wedges on the side, as a quick squeeze of lemon juice over the fish can enhance the tangy taste.
  • Garnishing: Garnish the Pulusu with fresh coriander leaves for an aromatic finish before serving.

Top 5 FAQs about Fish Pulusu

Fish Curry (Fish Masala) - Tea for Turmeric

  • What type of fish is best to use for Fish Pulusu?
    Usually, firm-fleshed fish that holds up well to simmering, such as snapper, kingfish, or catfish, are preferred for making Fish Pulusu because they maintain their texture and absorb the flavors of the tamarind and spices well.
  • How important is tamarind in Fish Pulusu, and can it be substituted?
    Tamarind is a key ingredient for the tangy flavor characteristic of Fish Pulusu, and its sourness can be adjusted according to taste. If tamarind is not available, a substitute like lemon juice or vinegar may be used, but the flavor profile will be slightly different.
  • What is the significance of tempering spices for this dish?
    Tempering spices in oil, a process known as tadka, is crucial for developing deep, aromatic flavors in the curry. Mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, garlic, and other spices are usually tempered to release their essential oils, which impart the base flavor for Fish Pulusu.
  • Can Fish Pulusu be made less spicy without compromising its authenticity?
    Yes, the chili powder and green chilies can be adjusted to taste. The dish’s authenticity comes from the balance of tanginess and spices. A milder version can still be authentic if the core ingredients and preparation methods are respected.
  • What are some common side dishes served with Fish Pulusu?
    Fish Pulusu is traditionally served with rice, which absorbs its rich, flavorful sauce. It can also be accompanied by flatbreads like chapati or roti. Additional sides might include vegetable stir-fries, pickles, papadams, and raita to complement the tangy and spicy notes of the curry.

In conclusion, Fish Pulusu is a classic example of the rich and vibrant culinary traditions of Andhra Pradesh. This South Indian fish curry celebrates the depth of regional flavors, with its signature tanginess from tamarind and the warmth of spices such as mustard seeds, fenugreek, garlic, and chili powder. The dish’s comforting, homely essence is complemented by the way it seamlessly marries the sourness of the tamarind with heat from the spices, producing a flavor profile that is robust yet nuanced.


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