Sardine Pulimunchi – spicy, tangy fish curry

Sardine Pulimunchi

Sardine Pulimunchi or Boothai Pulimunchi is a spicy, tangy fish curry from the coastal city of Mangalore . Boothai  stands for Sardines in Tulu. (“Tulu” is the local language spoken in Mangalore) Puli is tamarind and munchi means chillies. Mangalore, being a coastal city, fish forms the staple diet of people staying there. Mangalorean cuisine is known for its fish and chicken dishes like Bangude Pulimunchi, Chicken Sukka, Kori Rotti etc.

Sardine Pulimunchi is a hot and sour fish curry made by grinding roasted whole spices alongwith onion, garlic and tamarind. This tastes great with hot steamed rice, preferably brown (boiled) rice alongwith  some veggies on the side  like cabbage sabzi or bhindi (ladyfinger) sabzi. I have used a clay pot to make this curry which makes it all the more tasty.  Here is the recipe for Sardine Pulimunchi:


500 grams sardines (taarli)
10  dry red byadgi chillies  (sookhi laal mirch)
2 tbsp coriander seeds (dhaniya)
1 tbsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tsp mustard seeds (rai / sarso)
½ tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
¼ tsp whole black pepper (kali mirch)
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
1 ½ medium sized onion, sliced (pyaaz)
6 to 7 cloves of garlic (lehsun)
2 lemon sized ball of tamarind (imli)
½ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1 ½ tsp oil (tel)
Few curry leaves (kadi patta)
Salt as per taste (namak)

Sardine Pulimunchi


  • Cut and clean the fishes.  
  • Add  some salt to the fish while cleaning.
  • Change the water 4 to 5 times while cleaning the fishes.
  • Keep the cleaned fishes aside.  
  • Soak tamarind in little water and keep aside for 20 minutes.
  • Heat few drops of oil  in a pan and add dry red chillies.
  • Roast the chillies for few minutes.
  • Remove and keep aside.
  • Now, add coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, carom seeds, black pepper and  fenugreek seeds.
  • Roast the spices till they turn aromatic.
  • Transfer the roasted spices alongwith roasted chillies to a mixer jar.
  • Add chopped onion, garlic, soaked tamarind and turmeric powder.
  • Add little water and blend to a smooth paste.  
  • Keep this masala paste aside. 
  • Take a clay pot and add 1 tbsp oil into it.
  • Heat the pot.
  • Add half onion (chopped).
  • Add curry leaves and saute for few seconds.
  • Now, add the masala paste.
  • Add salt as per taste. /Add little water  and allow the curry to boil.
  • Water should be added as per the desired consistency of the curry. 
  • When the curry starts boiling, drop the fishes into the curry.
  • After adding the fishes, swirl the pot so that the fishes are coated well with the masala.
  • Avoid using spoon/ladle  to give a mix.  
  • If using a spoon, you will have to gently move the fish pieces in the curry.
  • Cook covered for 8 to 10 minutes or until the fishes are cooked.  
  • Serve hot with steamed rice.