Kerala Style Fish Pickle

Pickles were never my favorite until I started my hostel life in college. The monotonous food at hostel was nowhere near to the homemade food. Eventually I relied on pickles. We friends used to bring bottles of different kinds of pickles to hostel and they never lasted over a month. Those were some days when you long for a holidays to go back to home and have something tasty. Weekend visits to restaurant was the only relief. And also we have to be back in time in the hostel within the permitted time. But hostel life was fun and we even enjoyed some cooking experiments in our small room.

Hostel life had made fish pickle one of my favorite pickles. Even now when I go and visit my parents, I check the refrigerator for my Mom's pickles. No matter how many curries she makes, I always ask for pickle :). Mom's touch makes it taste even better.  Here is the recipe I follow to make fish pickle.


To Marinate
1 1/2 lb - firm fish without bones cleaned and cubed into 1 cm thickness
1 tsp - ground pepper
1/2 tsp  - chili powder
1/2 tsp - turmeric powder
1/2 tsp - garlic powder
1 tsp - oil
salt to taste
oil to shallow fry

Ingredients for masala
1.5 inch - ginger chopped
10 - garlic cloves thinly sliced
2 - green chili splits
2 tsp - red chili powder
1/4 tsp - fenugreek powder
1/4 tsp - asafoetida powder
1 1/2 tsp - vinegar
1/2 cup - water
1/2 tsp - mustard seeds
1/4 cup - oil
1 sprig - fresh curry leaves

  • Mix all the ingredients for marination and apply on the clean cubed fish and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Take a heavy bottom pan and shallow fry the fish in minimum amount of oil.  It will take 5 - 7 minutes to cook the fish.  Drain the excess oil on a paper towel and keep the fried fish aside.
  • In another pan, splutter 1/2 tsp of mustard oil in 1/4 cup of oil.  Add ginger, garlic and green chili.  Cook till it is light golden brown.  Add chili powder, fenugreek, asafoetida and cook till the raw smell goes away.   Now add the curry leaves and cook for 1 minute.   Add 1/2 cup of water and vinegar and boil.  Add the fried fish pieces and cook for couple more minutes and turn of the burner.
  • Transfer to sterlized dry glass jars and let it cool uncovered. 
  • Once the jars are completely cooled, store them in the refrigerator.  Enjoy them with steamed rice, biriyani or fried rice.
  • Make sure that you don't over fry the fish pieces.  This will make the fish pieces hard.
  • The pickle should be good for a month or so.  If you feel there is not enough oil, warm extra oil and pour it over the pickle.
  • You can use kashmiri chili powder to avoid too much of heat.
  • Always use dry spoon to take the pickle. 
  • You can use the same recipe to make shrimp pickle.
  • If you want to store the pickle for more than couple of weeks, avoid using water.  Substitute oil for water.

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