Margarita's International Recipes

Bene Israel

Fish Molee

Meen Molee, literally "fish stew," is a popular Kerala dish, of possible Portuguese origins. During colonial times, it spread through the British empire and today there are many recipes for this dish online. Most are more ellaborate than this very simple Bene Israel version. And yet, I cannot imagine they'd be more delicious. I hesitate to call this dish a curry, but if I do, I'll have to admit it's by far the best curry I've ever cooked.

The Bene Israel version of the dish calls for the sauce to be flavored by kokums, or dried mangosteens. You can find this in Indian grocery stores, mine called them "jungle plums". You can also substitute with about 1 1/2 Tbsp. tamarind juice or even some coconut balsamic vinegar. Or skip it and add some extra lemon juice at the end.

The original recipe (which I've doubled in the recipe below) asks for fresh green chilis. I didn't have any so I substituted with dry red ones. I like my food mild, so I barely put any and used no seeds - if you like heat, make sure to include some.

Serve this dish with rice as a first course or light lunch.

Fish Molee


  • 3 Tbsp. cooking oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2" ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 large tomato, thinly sliced
  • 2 lbs white fish fillet, sliced into 1" wide strips
  • 8-12 green chilies, desseded (or substitute with dried chilies)
  • 6 kokum.
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice


Heat oil in wok or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add the chopped ginger and garlic and stir fry for 2 more minutes. Add the cumin, salt and turmeric and stir. Add the tomato and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the fish, the chilies and the kokum and stir well, until the fish is coated with the onions and spices. Add the coconut milk, bring to a boil, then turn down temperature and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the lemon juice and serve with rice.

Adapted from a recipe in Copeland Marks' Sephardic Cooking

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