Beyond Curry: Kerala Shrimp Moilee (Curried Shrimp and Coconut Soup)

Beyond Curry

Inspired Indian home cooking.


Mild from the natural sweetness of the coconut milk and aromatic from the whole spices used, the Moilee is a delicate introduction to the distinctive flavors of the coastal Indian state of Kerala. [Photograph: Prasanna Sankhe]

In the Southern state of Kerala, whole spices form an integral part of the region's cuisine. This traditional shrimp or fish preparation is a window into the distinctive flavors of the region, known more for the aromatic nature of its spices than the actual heat they impart.

Coconut forms an integral part of the cuisine and is used liberally in this dish as well. The resulting amalgamation of naturally sweet coconut milk and fragrant whole spices gives this dish a unique but mild flavor that's decidedly different from the more robust dishes of the north.

You can choose to use a firm fleshed fish if you're not a big fan of shrimp—the taste is just as addictive. Moilee is best served with rice pancakes called Pappalam, but plain white rice and a healthy serving of poppadoms does the trick, too.