Try This Traditional Andhra Style Pulasa Chepa Pulusu
Image Credit: Pulasa Chepala Pulusu, Image Credit: Athidi ruchulu @YouTube

Born in a Bengali family, my introduction to Ilish or hilsa happened quite early. During those rainy seasons, almost every alternate day, my plate would look gorgeous with rich Bengali delicacies prepared with ilish maach. Thanks to that early rendezvous, I trained my tongue to eat the flesh of this fish without encountering any threat posed by its multiple thin bones. Ilish is love; that's what I believe in. Last year, a friend invited me home for a weekend trip to enjoy the raved monsoon of Vadapalem village in East Godavari district. This is when, I came across, Pulasa pulusu. My palate experienced a burst of flavours as I devoured this native dish of the region. 

I was told that the fishermen from the Godavari basin and some of its tributaries eagerly anticipate their prize catch during the monsoon season. The pulasa, which is one of the most expensive fish in that region, enters these rivers from the sea to lay eggs in the sweet water. During this period, the fish is sold in these areas for a regal price, a few thousand rupees per kg. Rich and wealthy are the first ones to lap the best pulasa. The only agenda is to relish it as the rich gravy pulasa pulusu with steamed rice. 


The elderly women of my friend's family got on to the job of preparing Pulasa Pulusu early in the morning. The gravy gets a tangy and fiery taste with tomatoes, tamarind, and green chillies. The traditional recipe also include okra. Proper fish sourcing is crucial since high-quality fish can significantly improve flavour. Instead of a thick consistency, it has a thin gravy, and a lot of water is added. The dish is usually slow-cooked in an earthen clay pot on a traditional chulha (stove).  It is claimed that eating the pulusu a day later makes it taste even better.

Pulasa Chepa Pulusu

Pulasa pulusu with rice, Image Credit: Gayathri Bites


    1 kg pulasa fish 

    200 gm tamarind 

    3 tomatoes (finely chopped)

    4 onions (medium size)

    2 sprigs of curry leaves 

    fresh coriander leaves chopped

    Salt as per requirement

    2 teaspoon chilli powder

    1 tsp turmeric powder

    6 green chillies

    1 tsp cumin seeds

    Oil - 50ml


  1. Clean pulasa, remove the shells and cut them into round slices. Marinate with turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt
  2. Soak the tamarind in enough water and crush the pulp thoroughly.
  3. Heat oil in a wok or earthnen clay pot, add cumin seeds, chopped onions, green chillies, and curry leaves, and saute until the onion turns translucent. 
  4. Add the tomatoes. Keep the flame on medium. Saute the vegetables and spices for 2 mins.
  5. Now for seasoning, add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt to taste. Cook it on low flame for 3-5mins.
  6. Now add tamarind pulp paste and cook on simmer for another 5 minutes.
  7. Add the fish slices and stir them carefully. Slow cook the fish on the lowest flame till the flesh is cooked. 
  8. Now add the chopped coriander leaves for garnishing.
  9. For best taste, cook and leave it overnight and have it the next day.
  10. Serve it with steamed rice.