Friday 27 June 2014

Fish Thokku | Spicy Shredded Fish Masala

To people who don't know what thokku is, it is a spicy masala/curry prepared usually with vegetables or any kind of meat or fish and served most commonly as spreads or mix and sometimes as sides in the Southern part of India. It has masalas and spices dominating the main ingredient (meat/vegetable) so that it balances well when used as a mix. Some even call pickles as thokku but I'd say its between the pickle and curry. I love all kind of thokkus but my favorite remains the fish thokku. Here shredded fish is cooked in a spicy onion-tomato curry base and served along with rice commonly. I even like to have it as sides with dosa, idli and chapatis. If using as a spread or mix increase the amount of salt, i.e. the thokku should be salty, but if using a side-dish reduce salt. Thokku is usually stored like pickles, but I'd always use it up within a week and have not experimented with fish thokku. Now lets get to see how to prepare this tasty Tamilian fiery delicacy. Fish lovers...!! you should not miss this one. 


Serves 2 generously as sides
Total Preparation Time - 30 minutes
  1. Fish - 2 pieces (I used Barracuda; nearly 120 grams) 
  2. Big onions - 2 (or) Shallots - 10 
  3. Tomatoes - 3 (small, ripe, red ones) 
  4. Green chillies - 1 long chilly 
  5. Ginger - 1 inch long piece 
  6. Garlic pods - 4 
  7. Chopped coriander leaves - 2 tablespoon 
  8. Curry leaves - From 3 sprigs 
  9. Fennel seeds / Sombu - 1/4 teaspoon
  10. Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon 
  11. Red chilli powder - 2 tablespoons
  12. Cumin powder - 1 teaspoon 
  13. Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon 
  14. Vinegar - 2 teaspoons (or) Lemon juice - 2 tsps
  15. Salt - As per taste (app 1 tsp)
  16. Oil - 6 to 8 tablespoons (using 8 tbsps will give a nice texture to the masala) 


  • Steam fish pieces and remove bones. Shred well using a fork and set aside. To steam fish pieces I used an idli pot; for this you must place an idli pot on flame and pour some water into it. Place the idli plates inside the pot and close the lid; wait until water starts boiling and steam gets generated, now open lid, place the fish pieces on the idli moulds like in the picture and close the lid. Steam on medium flame for about 4 to 5 minutes. Check if the fish has turned white and pale, if so it means, the pieces have got cooked. Now remove from flame, set aside until it cools down to room temperature. Then carefully separate the flesh and pick out the bones. Shred the flesh using a fork. For a better illustration on how to steam fish pieces using an idli pot check out my fish manchurian recipe
  • Peel and chop onions, chop tomatoes, scrape skin of ginger, remove skin from garlic. Then add them to a blender and grind coarsely; set aside. 
  • Now place a pan on flame and pour oil. After it heats up add mustard seeds and wait until it splutters. 
  • Then add curry leaves, fennel seeds, chopped green chillies and saute for a few seconds. 
  • Then add turmeric powder and mix well. 
  • Add the coarsely ground mixture, some salt and stir. 
  • Saute on a lower flame until the raw smell leaves. Then add red chilli powder and saute again for a few more minutes, add vinegar/lemon juice and cook until the masala seems well cooked and oil separates out. 
  • Now add chopped coriander leaves and the shredded fish. 
  • Stir well until the masala mixes up well with fish. 
  • Cover the pan with a lid and cook on low flame for a minute. 
  • Remove from flame and serve as sides or mix it up with hot rice and enjoy.

TIP 1: You can use any kind of fish, but see that they have fewer bones; else it will be difficult while shredding them. Use Barracuda, Seer fish, Salmons and similar fishes that are less boney. I used Barracuda. 

TIP 2: Adding more oil will make the thokku consistency glossy good and will also stay good for days, I have used lesser oil for health sake. 

TIP 3: I have made it spicy, you can reduce red chilli powder according to your tolerance. But when using as a mix you will have to add more red chilli powder so that it balances well. 

TIP 4: I have not stored it for more than a week. If using lemons finish it up soon, if using vinegar you can store it for 3 to 4 days. When stored in a clean container and refrigerated it will stay for a week. I haven't experimented longer than that. 

Tasty and super fiery Fish thokku is now ready!! Serve as sides or spreads and enjoy the hot tickling flavors of South!!


  1. Such a delicious thokkku sis :) so inviting, love to combine it with rasam and rice yum!

  2. My mouth is just watering here, Hard to resist to this thokku.

  3. Nice thokku, it's tempting. onion and tomotto in grams or cup measure


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