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
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 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.
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.