Karimeen Mappas (Pearl Spot)/ Kerala Fish Mappas

Karimeen Mappas is an extremely delicious, traditional Kerala Fish curry. Karimeen/ Pearl Spot is cooked in a spicy coconut gravy. Rich in flavors and spices, Karimeen Mappas is really incredible and is a much desired fare during special occasions. Mappas curry is a specialty dish in Kerala, and Karimeen Mappas, Beef Mappas, Cauliflower MappasKadachakka MappasVendakka Mappas etc. are very popular Mappas dishes. The coconut milk provides a creamy texture to the Fish Mappas gravy, making it extremely delicious. Like Fish Molee, Karimeen Mappas can be classified as Fish stew;it has a different set of spices to make it flavourful. 

Karimeen / Pearl Spot can be rightly called as “Icon fish” in Kerala, as Karimeen have exotic taste, and is usually expensive. It is featured as a top delicacy in all posh restaurants and a must try dish for all tourists. In Alappuzha region, house boat rides are considered incomplete without Karimeen varieties and Tharavu Roast for Lunch; a true way of experiencing the “Taste of Kerala”. Meen Mutta Thoran, Chemmeen Ularthiyathu, Sqiud Roast, Kakka Erachi, Alleppey Fish curry,Mathi Peera Pattichathu , Chemmen Chammanthi, Karimeen Thilappichathu, Fish Molee, Beef Roast etc are all much savored and sought after dishes here.

Karimeen fish bones are very hard and one have to be extremely careful while eating them. Even cleaning the scales is an art; you need to cut/ peel the scales off from the sides with a sharp knife, keeping the white skin intact. Some people just take the scales off which leaves a black mark, and then brush it against a stone to take out the black skin. I learned to clean Karimeen from mummy (my mil), and most of the times get a white clean fish, though I am not an expert like mummy or Kochammu. Karimeen Mappas is a much coveted dish in my home, but I make this fish curry only for special occasions! Karimeen Mappas goes well with Vellayappam Appam, Idiyappam or rice. Hope you will try my special Karimeen Mappas soon!

Time: 20 -30  mts

Serves: 3

Ingredients (for marination):

Karimeen/ Pearl Spot: 1 kg.
Ginger Garlic paste: ¾ tsp
Kashmiri Chili Powder: 1tbsp 
Turmeric Powder: ½ tsp
Pepper Powder: ¾ tsp
Salt : 1 tsp

For Karimeen Mappas:

Onion: 1 no.
Shallots/ Small Onion: 8 nos.
Cardamom: 3 nos.
Cloves: 4 nos.
Cinnamon: 1 “ piece
Garlic: 8 – 10 cloves
Ginger: 1” piece
Curry leaves: 4 sprigs
Green Chilly: 4 – 5 nos.
Red Chilly Pdr (optional): ½ tsp
Coriander Pdr: 1 tbsp
Turmeric Pdr: ½ tsp
Fennel Powder/ Perumjeera Pdr: ½ tsp
Tomato: 1 no.
Vinegar: 1 tsp
Cashew nuts: 10- 15 nos.
Coconut Milk: 2 cups (1 ½ + ½ )

Watch Video Recipe (https://youtu.be/EVtH_dR-9QY)


Clean the Karimeen/ Pearl Spot nicely. Make small gashes on both sides and keep aside. Mix all marinade ingredients with just enough water. Coat the Karimeen with this masala. Heat coconut oil in a pan and very slightly fry the Karimeen; be careful not to brown. Keep aside. Heat another pan and pour the oil used for frying without grains. Add whole Masalas, thinly sliced Onions, small onions, chopped ginger, garlic and slit green chilies and sauté. When limp, add Coriander and Turmeric powder, Chili Powder and Fennel/ Perumjeera Powder and sauté.

Karimeen Mappas Karimeen Mappas

Then add chopped tomatoes and fry for another two minutes. Add salt and fry till mashed. Add cashew paste next and fry for some time Now, add the light coconut milk (Randaam paal) and bring to a boil. Then add 1 tsp vinegar and mix well. Adjust the salt and add the fried Karimeen (Pearl Spot) to the gravy.

Karimeen Mappas Karimeen Mappas

Cover and cook for few minutes. Decorate with thin round tomato pieces. (optional). Now add the thick Coconut milk and swirl the pan slowly to combine well. Switch off the flame and cover with a lid and leave for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve hot with Idiyappam, Appam or rice.


  • Green chilly should be medium spicy. If it is too hot, add less.
  • Red chili powder is optional. If you like it spicy add the Chili Powder, it gives the gravy a light orange color.
  • You may also add Karimeen without frying. Slightly frying holds the fish intact and tastes more delicious.
  • You can also do this with white Pomfret (Vella Avoli).
  • Cashew paste makes the gravy rich and creamy.
  • Mappas is also a fish stew recipe like Fish Molee. Mappas has Coriander and fennel powder to add more flavours.

Please try and let me know if you like it through comments. You can also share this recipe with your friends.  God Bless!!

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