Meen pollichathu- Meen vazhayilayil Pollichathu is a very popular dish in Kerala especially in top rated restaurants, resorts and toddy shops. It is one of the lip smacking foods of Kerala, marinated fish with spices and masala is wrapped in banana leaf and grilled in pan is one of the delicious fish delicacy of central Kerala. Meen pollichathu is usually done with karimeen, as it is difficult to get karimeen always here. So I had to satisfy with vatta para/bluefin trevally a local fish available here and it was delicious. This kuttanadan fish preparation is unique and really interesting. The detailed recipe with step by step cooking pictures follows.
Meen pollichathu is a must try local delicacy which is generally prepared in banana leaf. Banana leaves or vazhayila is very important in this preparation, do not substitute with aluminium foil, as the taste and flavor will be compromised. The cleaned whole fish is marinated with various spiced and a masala paste of shallots/ small onions, green chilies, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and coconut milk, then cooked in banana leaf wraps. Traditionally, most Kerala recipes use shallots/ cheriya ulli and it taste too good compare to onions. So I would always recommend using shallots to get that authentic traditional taste of the dish.
Tips- Use any fresh fish for this particular recipe, Karimeen is used for the authentic preparation. Pour little oil in the pan, before placing the wrapped fish and cook in a low fire until both sides are cooked. While using banana leaf, wash and wipe off the excess water from it, heat up the stove and turn it on low. Place the banana leaf on the stove on low heat for seconds just until the leaf changes its color to dull green, so it looses its stiffness and will be flexible and without tearing off and you can easily wrap the fish.
How to Make Meen Pollichathu Recipe- Kerala Kuttanadan Style Fish in Banana Leaf Wraps
Clean the fish thoroughly, make deep slits in the fish for the marination to get inside.
Make a masala paste for the fish marination, kashmiri chilly powder, turmeric powder, pepper powder, lemon juice, salt, garlic paste and ginger paste.
Marinate the fish with masala paste and keep in refrigerator for 1 hour.
Take a wide non stick pan with oil, fry the fish slightly both sides and drain on paper towels. Do not over fry the fish.
Heat same pan with little more oil and saute sliced shallots, crushed ginger, crushed garlic, green chilies, curry leaves and tomatoes. Saute until shallots turn soft and translucent.
Then add in red chilly powder, coriander powder and salt. Stir and saute until raw smell fully goes on.
Then add in garam masala powder and combine well.
Add thick coconut milk and boil for a few minutes. Cook until masala are fully cooked. Off the flame the masala is ready use, set aside.
Slightly heat a plantain leaf on stove top, then place the banana leaf and add 1 spoon of cooked masala gravy on the leaf and place the fish on top.
Add 1 more spoon of masala gravy on top of the fish and make parcels of the fish inside the banana leaf. Secure it tightly with a string.
Heat a skillet or wide pan with oil, place the fish packet on top and close it with a lid.
Simmer the fire for 5-7 mins on each side and serve hot.
Enjoy!! Happy Cooking and stay healthy.