• Purely Home-made!

    Karuvadu Kulambu / Dry Fish Gravy

    Karuvadu/Dry fish gravy is a very authentic recipe of Tamil Nadu's cuisine. It has awesome flavors and aroma and is a very common preparation of the coastal villages. Excess fishes are salted and  sun dried for long term usage and storage purposes. Some people have an aversion to dry fish, whereas some people who have tasted it love it to the core. I have used sardine dry fish (Chalai/mathi karuvadu) you can use any other dry fish varieties also, like Barracuda dry fish (seela/sheela karuvadu), anchovies (Nethili karuvadu) etc. This delicious gravy goes well with hot rice accompanied with egg omelette or boiled egg and some vegetable stir-fry/poriyal. People with high blood pressure must avoid dry fish recipes as it has high salt content. Anyway once in a while will not cause harm. For another spicy dry fish recipe click here. And for all my sea-food recipes click here. Now lets move on to the preparation. 


    (Serves 5)

    1. Dry fish (Chalai/Seela karuvadu) - 6 pieces 
    2. Coconut - 1/2 of a coconut 
    3. Pearl onions (chopped) - 1/2 cup
    4. Brinjal - 3
    5. Drumstick - 2 
    6. Tamarind - a small lemon sized ball 
    7. Red chilli powder - 3 spoons 
    8. Coriander powder - 3 spoons 
    9. Turmeric powder - 1/4 spoon 
    10. Curry leaves - Few 
    11. Cumin seeds - 1/2 spoon
    12. Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 spoon 
    13. Mustard - 1/2 spoon 
    14. Salt - As per taste 
    15. Gingelly oil - 5 spoons 


    • Soak tamarind in a cup of water for 15 to 20 minutes. After it gets soaked well, mash it with your fingers and extract the tamarind juice (discard the pulp) and set aside. 
    • Chop brinjal into cubes and drumstick into long pieces (approximately 5 inch long).
    • If you are going to use chalai/mathi karuvadu (Indian sardines dry fish) then soak it for 10 minutes and remove the scales, dirt, excess salt and wash well. For seela/sheela karuvadu (Barracuda dry fish) wash it well to remove excess salt and dirt and set aside. Sometimes even seela karuvadu will also have scales in such cases it must also be soaked for 10-15 minutes depending on the fish type.
    • Make a fine paste of the following and set aside; (Make sure its a very fine paste)
    (Fine coconut paste)
    1. Coconut - 1/2 of one coconut
    2. Cumin seeds - 1/2 spoon
    • In a wide and deep pan or pot add the tamarind juice, 3 cups of water, coconut paste, red chilli powder and coriander powder, turmeric powder and mix well. 
    • Place this pot on flame and add the chopped vegetables and let it boil. Add more water if necessary. 
    • After it boils well add the dry fish pieces and cook on low flame. 
    • Check for salt now and add if necessary. 
    • In another pan/wok, add oil and after it heats up, add mustard and let it splutter. Then add fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, chopped onions and saute well until the onions turn slightly brownish. 
    • Add the above tempering mixture to the gravy and stir well.
    • Cook for 2 more minutes and remove from flame. 
    • Serve!! 

    TIP 1: Some dry fish variety, like chalai/mathi karuvadu (Indian sardines dry fish) will have lots of scales and excess salt and dirt in it so soak it in water prior to washing and remove the excess salt and scales. Then wash it well and use it for cooking. For other dry fish varieties like seela/sheela karuvadu (Barracuda dry fish) washing off the excess salt and dirt will be enough. But if it still has scales in it soak them and then wash to remove dirt, scales and excess salt.

    TIP 2: Even after washing, some fishes will have salt so always check and add salt to the gravy only after adding the dry fish pieces. 

    TIP 3: Always make a fine paste for preparing any type of seafood gravies. Or else the gravy consistency will not be good.

    TIP 4: While tempering for any curry/gravy, to get the best aroma tear the curry leaves and add it.

    TIP 5: Brinjal and drumstick gives a very good flavor, yet if you don't want to add it you can omit it. You can also add brinjal alone or drumstick alone.

    TIP 6: Use Gingelly oil for tempering, as it gives better flavor and aroma, but you can also use other edible oil except olive oil. 

    TIP 7: Some fishes may get cooked soon in such cases check the gravy often to find whether the pieces have got cooked, if overcooked the dry fish pieces will start dissolving and the fish bones will come out, which will cause discomfort while eating. 

    TIP 8: Add 2 green chillies if you like its flavor or aroma.

    Authentic, flavorful and delicious dry fish gravy is now ready!! Serve with Hot Steamed/Boiled Rice and enjoy!!

    Linking this recipe to Anu's "South Indian Cooking" (SIC) Series Event #1

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    1. OMG! mouthwatery kuzhambu dear.. i love karuvadu kuzhambu especially with ragi kazhi..

      1. Thanks Preeti :) Yeah I forgot to add about ragi kazhi :)

    2. More than 5 times i have scrolled the page before commenting, not able to take off my eyes...mouthwatering n tempting..MY MOST FAV DISH :)

      1. Oh wow thanks Priya :) I didn't know that there are people who still love karuvadu :)

    3. wow..its makes my tummy sound !!very tempting..

    4. Iam new to fish recipes. Kuzhambu looks colorful and delicious.

    5. Very colourful and tempting fish recipe. Also very new to me.

    6. I am very impressed by your blog. It looks really professional and your recipes are great. Following you now.

      1. Thanks Alida Welcome to my space :) Do visit again :)

    7. Replies
      1. Thanks Divya :) My Mom makes it often too :)

    8. wow, my favorite kulambu always. we like karuvadu more than fish...yours make me drool:) It is very expensive here and that too saalai meen karuvadu is very costly and extremely rare. I am enjoying my view and imagining with that omelet combo...yummy!

      1. Oh!! Better when you come to India buy some and stock it in your pantry, its more cheap and easily available here in India right :) Atleast am happy that you enjoyed this visual treat :)

    9. very good presentation....I love that small stone grinder :)

      1. Thanks Kavi!! That small stone grinder is my favorite one too :)

    10. though i am not a big fan of karuvadu, curry looks mouth watering.can i try the same method with fresh fish?or is this recipe only good with dry fish?

      1. Am not sure Vandana..I haven't tried this gravy with fresh fishes, you can try it out and share the results with us :) I hope it turns out good too :)

    11. Loved the pics and the presentation!

    12. omg..omg..mouth watering divya..

    13. tempting me...oh god..kuzhambu looks yummy and fantastic color...nice presentation ....reminding me of my mom's karuvadu kuzhambu

      1. Thanks Shanthi :) There is nothing like our Mom's preparations right? :)

    14. Looks good


    15. The first line caught my attention :)) when I think of TN its very difficult for me to associate it with non-veg food; as the image (in my mind) is of people who eat only pure vegetarian food.I believe TN has a huge variety on non-veg delicacies and am happy to read some here! Delicious!!

      1. Actually Gauri, TN is famous for its Non-veg cuisine especially chettinad are widely known for its non-veg preparations..TN without non-veg is impossible.. May be you'll be able to find more here :) Thanks Gauri!! :)

    16. Before reading ur post, ur clicks grabbed my attention... I cant take out my eyes....

      1. Wow that's a great compliment..Thank you Sangeetha :)

    17. Jus now came across your blog, very good collection of fish recipes.


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