Karimeen pollichathu (pearl spot) is one of the "star" foods of Kerala, marinated pearl fish is wrapped in banana leaf and grilled resulting in one of the delicious fish delicacy of Kerala.
For meen pollichathu banana leaves or vazhayila is important, please do not use aluminium foil, as the taste and flavor will be compromised. With vazhayila, we are making fish packets, the sauteed masala is spread on the fish and the plantian leaf is closed and tied with a string....and it is grilled on a tawa. Traditionally, most kerala recipes calls for shallots or "cheriya ulli" and it does take the taste to a next level when you use shallots. I would always recommend using shallots to get that authentic Kerala taste. Here I am using onions though if you prefer you can use shallots.
If you like microwave cooking....you can bake it in it as per the time required....I do not use microwave cook nor cook in it....so I do not know anything more than this, that you can bake it in...and if you want 10-15 packets for a party or for a large gathering....you can stack it up in a microwave. I like to be a bit traditional with my cooking, so I stay away from microwave :)
The fish is lightly seared in coconut oil, searing or lightly frying the fish is to seal the juices of the fish, thus the fish will be juicy and tender. Wrapping the fish with the masala in banana leaf makes it more juicy and the flavors intact.
As always this is amma's recipe, I made this recipe with just one large fish. You can use fish like seer fish, butter fish, or pomfret, you can double up and make as many fish packets you would want to. ....bachelors are you listening!!
This is how I made karimeen pollichathu.
Karimeen Pollichathu (Kerala Style), Meen Pollichathu Step by Step Method:
Marinate the fish with Kashmiri chilly powder, pepper, turmeric, lime juice, and salt. Keep aside for 10-15 min.
Heat a pan with 1/2 tsp coconut oil, and lightly sear one side of fish...probably a minute or two.
Do the same with the other side with 1/2 tsp of coconut oil....keep it aside.
Slice the onions, finely slice or grate ginger, garlic, and tomatoes...
In another pan, heat 1 tbsp coconut oil, add in curry leaves.
Add the onions, green chilly, ginger, and garlic.....saute for two minutes. Then add in the Kashmiri chilly powder, turmeric, pepper powder, salt....mix well.
Saute it until the tomatoes are incorporated and all mixed...switch off the fire and keep aside.
Lightly heat a plantain leaf on stove top......this is done to make the leaf unbreakable and also gives a nonstick effect which we need for this curry.
I used a big leaf and then sliced into two. Now to assemble the fish, place one sprig of curry leaf.
Place half of the masala on top of it.
Then place the fish on top of it....and place another sprig of curry leaf.
And then top it with the rest of the masala.
Fold in .....from all 4 sides
And make it into a packet.....secure it tightly with a string.
Heat a skillet or tawa with little coconut oil...place the packet on top.....simmer the fire for 5-7 min on each side.
If needed drizzle little oil and then turn to other side.....oil helps the leaf from not sticking to the tawa....5-7 minutes is needed.
Serve hot, untie the string, and open the packet.......the flavor is OMG!
Enjoy this as an appetizer or simply as a snack.
Other recipes you may like: