Alappuzha or Alleppey is labeled as the ‘Venice of the east’ because of its breathtaking view of the backwaters and house-boats; it’s a beautiful small town, famous for its network of canals and lagoons, crisscrossing the center of the town as well as boat races and coir products.I am a proud descendant from alappuzha.
Meen Pollichathu (Roasted Fish in a Banana leaf Wrap) is a ‘must try’ local delicacy which is generally prepared with a fresh catch of karimeen (Pearl Spots), marinated with various spices and a ground paste of pearl onion/small onions, green chilies, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and coconut milk and then cooked in banana leaf wraps.
Instead of using one whole fish, the same preparation can be done with fish steak pieces, wrapped individually in banana leaf, to serve for a group. This is one of the most famous central Kerala delicacy that adorns the dining table at the time of guest arrivals as well as Christmas and Easter lunches.
Ingredients (depends on the quantity and size of the fish,spices can be adjusted according to the fish quantity)
- Ingredients for Marinating and roasting the fish:
- 1 whole fish cleaned, usually Karimeen (pearl Spots); King Fish,Pomfret,Tilapia(i used king fish pieces (pic at end of the post) as well as karimeen(pic above ))
- 3 tsp chilly powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp pepper powder
- ¼ tsp ginger paste
- ¼ tsp garlic paste
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Coconut oil for frying
- Ingredients for the gravy:
- 1 cup finely chopped red pearl onions/small onions (around 20-22 nos)
- 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
- 6-8 finely chopped green chillies(as per your tolerance level)
- 1 sprig of curry leaves
- A pinch of turmeric powder
- A pinch of chilli powder
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- ¼ cup thick coconut milk
- Salt to taste
- The Main ingredient:
- Banana Leaf – big enough to wrap the fish from all the sides.you can also make small fish pieces and wrap .It helps in getting cooked faster.
Marinating and Roasting the fish
- Make 4-5 slits on the fish; marinate with chilly powder, turmeric powder, pepper powder, ginger and garlic paste, lemon juice and salt with a little water to make a thick paste and apply the fish evenly on both sides and keep it for a minimum of 2 hours.
- The slits made on the fish will help the marinade to penetrate into the fish during this time.If fish pieces are used ,depending on the size of pieces you can make the slits.
- Heat oil in a flat non-stick pan and shallow fry the fish at medium heat by flipping each side ; it shouldn’t be too crispy and do not overcook ; it should be soft and moist to allow the gravy to get infused at the final stage.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and sauté the chopped small onions, ginger, green chilies and curry leaves, in low heat, until they are golden brown in colour
- Add a pinch of turmeric powder and chilly powder and saute well. At this stage, add the thick coconut milk ,salt and mix well to make the gravy; just combine the gravy well and turn off the stove; do not cook .
Cooking in Banana Leaf Wrap
- Mildly wilt(vattiyedukuka) the fresh and washed banana leaf by keeping it on a low flame.The prevents the leaf from tearing off while we wrap and fold the fish.
- Place it in a large flat non-stick pan; Make a thin layer with half of the gravy and keep the roasted fish and top it with the rest of the gravy. Cover and wrap the fish completely by folding the banana leaf, from all the sides and place a lid on top and let it cook for 15 minutes on low flame, until the gravy is thick.
- Serve hot with rice.
Thanks And Regards