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.

clementine, chocolate, and date m’hencha…an alternative christmas treat.

 

As I’m twiddling my thumbs until I start my new job next week, I’ve been looking at what ingredients I’ve got hanging about the kitchen and what deliciousness I can make. I first came across a recipe for M’hencha a couple of years ago but didn’t make it, although I was interested in making one at some point. Then this year I bought a date and orange one, it was delicious, the m’hencha was just on another level and for the last couple of months it’s been at the back of my mind that I need to make one. So I did and it turns out it’s really easy to make, which could be a little dangerous.

The dish served today is a spiced clementine, date and chocolate m’hencha, otherwise known as a snake cake from morocco. This M’hencha is a mix of nuts, dates, spices, and chocolate encased is crisp phyllo pastry, dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon. I’m really pleased with my first attempt and think it makes a rather nice alternative to a mince pie or piece of Christmas cake. I’ll definitely be making this later in the month for the festivities and I hope you do too.

Clementine, Chocolate and Date M'hencha
clementine, chocolate and date m’hencha

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 35-40 minutes

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 12 sheets phyllo pastry
  • 150ml clementine juice
  • Zest of 4 clementines
  • 200g date paste
  • 165g almonds
  • 50g pistachios, shelled
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 100g vanilla sugar
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 tsp green cardamom, ground
  • 1/4 tsp cloves, ground
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted

Decoration

  • 2 tsp icing sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon, ground

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180c

Grease and line a 10-inch cake tin

In a food processor place the clementine juice, zest, almonds, pistachios, cocoa powder,  date paste, vanilla sugar, icing sugar, egg white, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and orange blossom water, pulse the mixture to get a textured paste and place in a bowl.

To assemble the pastry, melt the butter and lay out a large length of cling wrap.

Unwrap the phyllo pastry, placing 4 sheets each over lapping short ends on top of the cling wrap.

Using a pastry brush work quickly and brush the pastry with the melted butter, ensure you brush between the over lapping edges. Then place a sheet of pastry over each of the buttered layer and repeat with the rest of the phyllo, making sure the top layer is also buttered.

Take the m’hencha filling; make a line of filling along the longest edge of the pastry nearest to you.

Using the cling wrap to help you start to turn the edge of the pastry over the filling and continue to roll, remove the cling film and discard.

Ensure the pastry seam is on the underside of the rolled pastry, brush with the remaining butter and gently coil the pastry around itself, at the end tuck the pastry slightly under the coil, place in the cake tin and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and cool in the tin.

When cooled, remove from the tin and dust with the icing sugar and cinnamon. Serve on its own or with some whipped cream and a mint tea.