Kallumakkaya Varuthad (Kerala Style Stir Fried Mussels)


  • Mussel Meat (16 ounces/ 1 pound)
  • Shallots (5-6 shallots; thinly sliced; if not available use onions)
  • Tomatoes (2 medium-sized; finely chopped)
  • Tamarind (1-2 tablespoons)
  • Turmeric Powder (2 teaspoons)
  • Chili Powder (1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • Coriander Powder (1 tablespoon)
  • Asafoetida Powder (Hing) (a pinch; optional)
  • Curry Leaves (3-4 springs)
  • Green Chilies (3-4 chilies; chopped)
  • Garlic (1/2 tablespoon; minced)
  • Ginger (1 inch; finely chopped)
  • Mustard Seeds (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Coconut Oil (if not available use any other oil)


If you’re getting the mussels with the shell on; you have to remove the beard and any impurities on the shell and discard any shell that won’t close. In a pot add the mussels and 1 cup of water. Cover and cook for 5-8 minutes stirring occasionally till the shells open up. If after 8 minutes the shells don’t open up discard them. Let it cool and then remove the meat from the shell and set it aside.

If you’re getting just the mussel meat, skip the first step and jump right to marination. Add some salt, one teaspoon of turmeric powder, half tablespoon of chili powder and asafoetida powder and set it aside for 30 minutes.

In a pan, add a tablespoon of coconut oil and once hot add the mussels in and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat stirring occasionally. Remove them from the pan and set it aside.

In a bowl add 1/4 cup of warm water and the tamarind and let it soak till ready to use.

In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and don’t worry about the stick bits on the pan if any. Once the oil is hot add the mustard seeds and let it crackle; then add 2 springs of curry leaves and cook for 10 seconds before adding in the shallots. Let the shallots cook for 5 – 7 minutes on medium heat and stir occasionally to avoid the shallots from sticking to the pan till they have a golden brown shade. This should also help you release some of the sticky bits as the shallots start to sweat.

Add the ginger, garlic and the chopped green chilies in and cook for a minute or two till the raw smell of the ginger and garlic goes away. Now add the chopped tomatoes and cook them till they have become mushy.

Now, add the remaining ground spices one teaspoon of turmeric powder, one tablespoon of chili powder and one tablespoon of coriander powder and give it a nice mix and cook for a minute.

Add the mussels back into the pan along with any accumulated liquid. Add the tamarind water into the pan by passing it through the sieve and then using a spoon squeeze out as much water as you can from the solid bits.

Add another 1/4 of water and cook on low heat for 30 – 40 minutes and keep stirring. You want to dry it till the shallots start getting a darker shade almost black but you’re not burning them out. Finally add the last spring of curry leaves and give it a mix and serve it with a drizzle of coconut oil.


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