Meen pollichathu. Fish coated in spicy masala is wrapped in banana leaf and cooked to perfection. This melt-in-your-mouth fish is one of the iconic dishes of cuisine of Kerala. Without a doubt, it’s stunning enough to be the centerpiece at your next seafood meal.
Clearly, this is the perfect recipe to celebrate the traditional cuisine of Kerala (Indian state). If you’ve ever been on a houseboat on the backwaters of Kerala, you might be very familiar with this dish featuring whole fish cooked in banana leaf.
Inspired by the signature dish of my favorite restaurant in my hometown, I decided on this meen pollichathu recipe aiming to recreate one of the very classic dishes of Kerala cuisine. Traditionally, this dish is made with pearlspot (karimeen in Malayalam). Since pearlspot is not easily available here, I decided to go with sweep. Apart from pearlspot, pomfret, tilapia, salmon, black bream and small barramundi tastes amazing in this recipe.
Make sure you choose small whole fish. After you clean the fish, remove the head, and make diagonal slits on both sides. That way, the flavors of the marinade and masala will be absorbed right into the fish creating mouthwatering meen pollichathu dish.
To start with, marinate fish in a spicy mixture of ground turmeric, crushed black pepper, chili powder, lemon juice and oil. Let it sit in the refrigerator for about one hour.
Now, make the masala. Fry a few chopped shallots in oil followed by sautéing ginger, garlic, green chilies and curry leaves. Fry tomatoes and spices. If the masala is too dry, add a little water to create a semi solid consistency.
Next up, to prep the banana leaf, show it over flame to make it soft and flexible. Both fresh and frozen leaves are perfect in this recipe.
You’ll also need to shallow fry the fish at this stage. Just make sure both sides are browned, don’t worry about cooking the fish. Now, place a little masala on the leaf, and top with fish and more masala.
The final step – cover fish in banana leaf, and fry. Flavor from wilted banana leaf, melt in your mouth fish, lip-smacking masala – this meen pollichathu is about to become one of your favorite ways to enjoy fish.
More classic fish recipes:
- Kerala Fish Curry
- Malabar Fish Roast
- Fish Molee (Kerala Fish Stew)
- Goan Fish Curry
- Fish Coconut Curry (Varutharacha Meen Curry)
- Fish Tikka Masala
- Chettinad Fish Fry
- Amritsari Fish (Indian Style Fish and Chips)
- Fish Cutlets (Indian Fish Cakes)