Fish Pulusu

Fish Pulusu Recipe (Chepala Pulusu)

Updated: May 5, 2024, By Swasthi, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Fish Pulusu is a traditional Andhra style stewed fish that’s a staple in the Telugu speaking households. It is spicy, hot and tangy with a thin or runny stew/ sauce. It is usually eaten with rice but also goes well with chapati or parathas. In this post I share my Mom’s popular recipe to make fish pulusu. Plan and make this ahead because this tastes fantastic the next day or at least after 3 to 4 hours.

Fish Pulusu

About Fish Pulusu

Everyone has a signature dish and this one is my Mom’s. Growing up we heard a lot of our friends and family members always complimented her Fish pulusu, Garelu, Pulihora and Masala Vada. Though this is not how the dish is made traditionally, appreciations were endless on how good the pulusu tasted.

Like the traditional dish, she would use tamarind, red chili powder, turmeric etc. But the secret ingredient was the poppy seeds, which gave a new twist, texture and flavor to the pulusu. But I know a pulusu is tamarind based and has fenugreek seeds or powder as the flavouring ingredient. It does not use garam masala so the fishy flavor is kept intact.

But she used a mild garam masala which is not as strong as the North Indian blend. It just had coriander, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper and cardamoms. These spices cut down the fishy smell and infuses mild spicy flavors to the dish.

If you are wondering, will this taste like the traditional pulusu? I can say this is an upgraded version of the pulusu and tastes better. It still has the flavor and taste of the tamarind with many more flavors infused from the spices. The pulusu doesn’t taste anything like a creamy curry because a small amount of the poppy seeds are used.

What to use in the absence of poppy seeds? (because they are not available in many countries.) They are not available in Singapore so I make this with cashew paste/ coconut. Other option is to use a little coconut milk. It tastes super good and delicious.

For more Fish recipes
Fish curry
Easy fish fry
Fish vepudu
Dum style fish biryani

How to make Fish Pulusu (stepwise photos)


1. Marinate the fish with red chili powder, turmeric, salt and lemon juice. Set aside for 15 minutes while you prep up the rest. Soak tamarind in hot water. When softened, squeeze with your fingers, extract the juice and filter it. Set this aside. Heat oil in a wide pan (no kadai here). Add the whole spices and when they begin to sizzle, add curry leaves, onions and chilies. Saute until the onions turn golden.

marinate fish

2. While the onions fry, make a fine paste of cashews or roasted poppy seeds or raw coconut with little water. Set aside. Read notes in the recipe card to prep up this.

poppy seeds paste

Make Chepala Pulusu

3. Add ginger garlic paste to the onions and fry until the raw smell is gone. Place the fish pieces and fry for 3 minutes on each side, turn with a spatula. Be careful, we don’t want to break them.

fry onions golden for fish pulusu

4. Add garam masala, red chili powder and more salt. Pour the tamarind juice all over the fish and cook covered for 3 to 4 minutes. Do not stir them till the end because they will break. Gently swirl the pan to coat the fish with the tamarind juices.

tamarind pulp fish pulusu

5. Pour water just enough to partially cover the pieces. Bring it to a boil and simmer until the fish is cooked through. You know it is cooked when the fish flakes easily with the prick of a fork. Taste test and add more tamarind water or salt to taste. Add cashew/coconut/ poppy paste to the boiling pulusu. Swirl gently and cook till the pulusu begins to bubble up. Add coriander leaves with the stalks and Switch off the stove. Discard the coriander stalks while serving.


Serve Andhra style fish pulusu with rice or chapati.

Fish Pulusu Recipe

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

Fish Pulusu Recipe

Fish Pulusu (Chepala Pulusu)

4.83 from 45 votes
This Andhra style Fish Pulusu is stewed fish with tamarind and spices. It is tangy, saucy, spicy and slightly hot. Serve it over rice or with chapati.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time40 minutes

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )


  • 1 kg firm fish cut to thick pieces (check the pics for the size)
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • teaspoon salt (½ teaspoon more to add later)
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice

Other Ingredients

  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 cup onions finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 green chilies slit
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 8 stalks coriander leaves with tender stems
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons oil
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon red chili powder (use as needed, it can be very hot)
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala (adjust to taste)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Tamarind or as needed (soaked in ¾ cup hot water)
  • 10 cashew nuts or 2 tbsps poppy seeds or ½ cup raw coconut or coconut milk

Whole spices (optional except cumin)

  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 green cardamom



  • Marinate the cleaned fish pieces with lemon juice, salt, turmeric and red chili powder. Set aside up to 15 mins while you prep up the rest.
  • Soak tamarind in hot water until soft. Later squeeze with your fingers and strain to extract thick clean juice. Grind cashews with ¼ cup water to a smooth puree. If you want to use poppy seeds or coconut read notes section below.

How to make Fish Pulusu

  • Heat a heavy bottomed wide pan with oil, add whole spices. When they begin to sizzle add curry leaves, green chilies and onions.
  • Saute until the onions turn golden. Add ginger garlic paste, sauté for a min.
  • Place the fish pieces and fry on a medium high for 3 mins. Turn carefully to the other side and fry for another 3 mins. Remember not to stir till the end else they can break.
  • Sprinkle garam masala, salt and more chili powder, Pour tamarind juice all over the pieces. Cover and simmer for 2 to 3 mins.
  • Pour water just enough to partially cover the pieces. Do not add a lot. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for just 4 to 5 mins on a medium flame, until the fish is cooked through.
  • Add the cashew/coconut and tilt the pan slightly to one side and get over the pulusu on to the pieces. Swirl gently & let cook until it begins to bubble. Taste test and add more tamarind or salt if you want. Add the coriander with the stalks as is and cover. Turn off and discard the coriander leaves before serving.
  • Serve Andhra fish pulusu with rice or roti.


  1. If you chose to use poppy seeds: Dry roast and grind poppy seeds to a fine paste. First powder the seeds finely, then add water and make a paste else your poppy seeds will remain coarse and you will get it in the mouth while you eat.
  2. If you choose to use grated coconut, grind coconut with ¼ cup of water and extract the milk. Discard the pulp. Take care not to add too much water while grinding.
  3.  Ensure that you use a wide pan, like a pressure pan. Do not crowd the pieces. 
  4. Do not stir or mix the curry too much while cooking. This will cause the pieces to break.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Fish Pulusu (Chepala Pulusu)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 311 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 125mg42%
Sodium 147mg6%
Potassium 891mg25%
Carbohydrates 11g4%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 52g104%
Vitamin A 120IU2%
Vitamin C 14.7mg18%
Calcium 103mg10%
Iron 2.4mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Fish Pulusu Recipe (Chepala Pulusu)

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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What kind of fish is this by the way? Living here in Germany this information would help find the source to buy this kind. Thanks

5 stars
Being an andhra fellow, but born n bought up in bombay…never my recipe tasted that taste of chepulu pulusu.. But ur recipe is so wonderful, I remembered my mom… Thanks alot..

really lovely ! thanks for sharing. everything from chicken to fish to chose to rajma seems to have onion and tomato as base… I was so tired of it. so happy to have found this option 🙂

Also, thanks for being my go to guide for all recipes… u r saviour :3

5 stars
Very tasty, never expected that my fish gravy would be like this. I used emperor fish and it was like ???. My brother just ?ed it a lot. Thank u so much for sharing this wonderful recipe.?

hi after roasting the poppy seeds and grinding them my mixture went brown. Is that ok?

Tamarind to be measured in tbsp or tamarind paste. Pls reply. I want to try this. Mention tamarind in size or gms.

Dear Swasti,
I tried this recipe and it turned out great. Not only this one all of your recipes turns out great for first time itself. Nice collection.


4 stars

I have made this more than twice n the same wonderful tangy pulusu every single time…. this is a really great recipe for first timers like me

5 stars
Hi swathi,
I tried this recipe with a twist of adding few slightly roasted whole Anaheim chilis, along with the fish and it turned out really tasty. My father in law liked it a lot, so it goes into my recipe collection. Thanks for your recipe.

5 stars
Can you provide recipe for steamed whole fish for fresh-faced water fishes. Thanks in advance. Anupam Goyal

5 stars
Thank you madam..

It came out excellent

5 stars
Hii dear..i am a bachlor & engg student.thaks for your recipes to makes our food delicous…when i think try some new item i just search in ur page & tried it..& its was amezing…supb

Thnks to u.

5 stars
Ma’am can you please add the pdf option in all fish receipies so we can print the same??

4 stars
Please add print option in fish recipes so we can print the same.

5 stars
Hello swathi garu, I tried fish recipe its very delicious thanks for recipe

4 stars
its vry delious dish..i luvd it..

andhra fish pulusu is very tasty. thank u.

hi …its verrry sweet
nice yaar. i like it …its my choice


what is …i like it…

3 stars
Very good recipies..i made a tasty fish curry for the first time after reading it..thank you…

realy good

Pls tell me some fish names with single bone.