Meen Pollichathu – Fish in Banana Leaf

 

This dish Meen Pollichathu (Fish cooked in Banana Leaf) was taught to me by good friend Divya in Chendamangalam, Kerala. This is a deliciously spicy dish that’s great served with rice or just with a parotta and will impress your guests for sure.

Traditionally this dish uses a fish that is local to the fresh waters of Kerala called Karimeen, which is not readily available in the UK so I have opted for sea bream but grey mullet or snapper lends itself well.

The banana leaves are a really important element in this dish as not only does it hold the whole dish together it imparts a flavour and keeps the fish moist and succulent.

Meen Pollichathu – Fish in Banana Leaf

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Serves: 2

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time:  30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 large whole sea bream, scaled and gutted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2-inch fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 5 small shallots
  • 2 fresh green finger chillies
  • 1tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 3 tsp coconut vinegar
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • 1 banana leaf, enough to wrap the fish twice.

Method

Prep the banana leaf by trimming into sheets to wrap the fish, taking care to remove the central spine of the leaf.  Wash in water, dry the leaves and run the leaves over a flame, this seal the leaves, making them more pliable.

Slash the fish and rub with 1tsp salt and ½ tsp turmeric.

In a wok or frying pan heat the coconut oil and fry the fish until sealed.

To make the masala place the ginger, garlic, shallots, fresh chilli green, chilli powder, pepper, salt and coconut vinegar in a masala grinder and grind until smooth.

Coat the inside and outside of the fish in all the masala, and leave to marinade for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes over lap the banana leaf sheets in a cross shape, place half the tomatoes, curry leaves and onion on top of the leaves.

Place the masala marinated fish on top of the leaves, add the remaining curry leaves, slices of onions and tomatoes, and wrap the fish in the leaves securing with a cocktail stick.

In a hot wok, add a little coconut oil and place the fish parcels in the wok frying for 10 minutes on each side.

Serve with steamed rice or parotta with wedges of limes.

Spice Kitchen : Murgh Hara Masala

Sundays are all about the chicken in most households, admitidly it’s usually a roasted. In the house I grew up in, our weekends didn’t culminate in a Sunday roast but a variety of spiced dishes. So if you ever come to mine on a Sunday it’s fairly unlikely that that I won’t  serve you a roast dinner, don’t get me wrong I enjoy a roast but I’m not bound by tradition of having one every Sunday or every month. 

If you don’t fancy a roast dinner try this dish that I wrote about when I was Malabar Aaanaa, it will liven up any dull Sunday.

This weekend was the first time I’ve had chance to get back on the spice trail to try something new and delicious. I did a fair bit of trawling through my recipe books and came across this tasty recipe for Murgh Hara Masala and being the person I am, I played about with it slightly.


Ingredients :

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium onion , thinly sliced

1 inch fresh ginger, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp masala chat

2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

2 chicken breasts, diced

2 chicken thighs, diced

100ml plain yoghurt

350 ml chicken stock

1 small handful of fresh mint, finely chopped

1 small handful of fresh coriander

1 green chilli, finely chopped

1 banana shallot, finely chopped

1tbsp lemon juice

100g fresh spinach, blanched and puréed

Salt to taste

1 stalk of fresh curry leaves

Method

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium flame and add the sliced onions. Brown the onions and then add the garlic and chilli and fry until the raw smell has gone.

In a small bowl mix the chat masala and Kashmiri chilli powder and add a little water so not to scorch the spices, add this mix to the onions , garlic and ginger. Cook out the spices for 1 minute.

Add the chicken and seal the meat coating it with the spice mix.

Add the chopped mint, coriander, lemon juice, shallot and green chilli to the chicken and cook out for 2 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick add a splash of water.

Add the yogurt and bring to a simmering point and cook for a further 2 minutes

Add the stock and spinach and cook until the chicken is tender for 10- 15 minutes.

Add the curry leaves and season with salt, cook for a further minute.


Serve with rice and chapatti.

Kerala Mutta Curry – eggs baked in masala 

Here’s a great brunch dish that will add spice to any weekend . I  made this for a clients 30th birthday brunch when I was running Malabar Aaanaa, all who attended loved this dish and said that the brunch added to a very special weekend.

Most of the egg curries I’ve had in Kerala have used hard boiled eggs. I feel the curry looses out on the silkiness of a soft yoke and a certain richness when combined with the masala, so with this in mind I cook the egg from the scratch in the masala sauce giving the dish a more enjoyable flavour and texture .


Kerala Mutta Curry – Baked Eggs in a Masala Sauce 

Ingredients

6 eggs, organic

For the Masala Sauce

1 tbsp coconut oil
2 medium onion, sliced

2 sprigs of curry leaves

2 tsp coriander seeds, ground

2 green chilli, deseeded and split lengthwise

1inch ginger, minced

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

5 fresh medium tomatoes, chopped

1 tbsp fennel seeds, ground

1 tbsp cumin, ground

1/2 tsp garam masala

2 inch cinnamon stick

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

Salt to taste

1 small handful of coriander, finely chopped

Method

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and temper following spices: cinnamon stick and curry leaves for 2 minutes, then add the sliced onions.

Fry the onions until soft and translucent then add the garlic, ginger and green chilli, cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the spices ( but not the garam masala) and cook until the tomatoes have broken down , add a cup of water gradually to stop the mixture from sticking.

Once the masala sauce has cooked down sprinkle with garam masala and season with salt and mix.

Pre-heat the oven to 180c

Transfer the sauce to an ovenproof dish and crack the eggs into the mixture, I find it handy to make a little well in the sauce to hold the egg.
Place in the oven and cook until the egg white is just set and the yoke is still soft.
Serve with Upma, Paratha and chutneys
 
  Note:

Instead of baking the eggs, you can just poach the eggs in the pan on the stove. To poach just cover with a  lid until  and cook over a medium heat until the egg white is cooked and the yoke is soft.