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Discover an ingenious use of lemon turmeric water in the preparation process at one of Singapore's oldest family-run restaurants. Image:

Muthu's Curry Cooking Tip: Soak Fish Head In Lemon Turmeric Water

When you’ve got a winning money-making formula - especially something like a hit recipe - chances are, you’re going to keep it to yourself or, at the very least, your immediate family.

It’s no different when it comes to the hit South Indian fish head curry dish at Muthu’s Curry, which started out as a small shop in Klang Lane in 1969, and was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand last year. (Incidentally, the restaurant celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and since this National Day, the restaurant has gone straw-free in a move to promote a sustainable dining culture.)


In a bid to promote a sustainable dining culture, Muthu's Curry has been straw-free since National Day this year!Photo: Facebook/Muthu's Curry

The recipe for the secret spice mix used in its famous fish head curry was known only to its founder, Ayyakkanu S who died in 1996 at the age of 49 after a sudden heart attack in India. Today the secret lies with his two sons, Kasivishvanaath A and Srinivasan A (Srini).

“I’m a firm believer that the recipe doesn’t make the dish,” says Srini, who runs the restaurant outlet located at 138 Race Course Road. “It’s whatever else you put into it - the effort, the care. For us, this has been a family tradition since 1969.”

What Srini can share, however, is a priceless tip on how to make fish heads taste better if you’re cooking your own fish head curry. “To ensure your fish head doesn’t have that bitter taste like most fish heads do, soak it in lemon turmeric water,” advises Srini. “It takes away all of the bitterness and that fishy smell.”

Something you might not know about fish head curry: In India, there’s no such thing as fish head curry. There, they - gasp! - throw away the head and eat the body of the fish only. Fish head curry was adapted for the multicultural Singaporean palate because it was common at that time for the Chinese in Singapore to consume fish heads.

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