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Meen Nirvana

Chef Suresh Pillai’s legendary fish nirvana recipe. Fish fried in spices and then poached in a banana leaf wrapped ginger coconut milk sauce. Recipe with step by step pictures.

  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: 4 serving 1x



For Shaloow frying the fish

  • 4 Pomfret fish or any firm fish
  • 1.5 tablespoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of a small lemon or lime
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoon vegetable oil to shallow fry the fish
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves

For the sauce

  • 2 banana leaves, cut in half (4 pieces)
  • 34 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1.5 inch piece ginger, minced
  • 1.5 cup thick coconut milk (use 1/3 cup milk for one fish)
  • 2 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 8 green chillies, slit
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoon coconut oil


  1. Wash, clean and prep the fish. Make small gashes on the fish with a sharp knife so the masalas can penetrate and season the fish throughout.
  2. Take a plate and add in the turmeric, red chilli powder, black pepper powder and salt. Add in juice of a small lemon.
  3. Add in a tablespoon of coconut oil and mix well to make a thick paste.
  4. Apply the marinade on the fish. Make sure that the masalas are evenly coated. Apply masala in the gashes so the fish gets evenly seasoned. Marinate the fish in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Heat oil in a pan until hot. Gently place the fish in oil. Add in some curry leaves on top of the fish. Do not disturb or move the fish for the first two-three minutes. Let it cook. That’s the trick so the masalas will stick properly and wont separate. Cook the fish for 3 minutes on each side.
  6. In the mean time, Heat an appa pan / appa chatty or any kadai and place a big banana leaf on the pan. Add in the fried fish. Add in few sprigs of curry leaves and ginger.
  7. Add in the coconut milk on the sides on the pan. Pour it only on the sides. First pressed coconut milk is needed for this recipe. I have used canned coconut milk today and it just works best. If you are in a hurry or a beginner, use readymade / canned coconut milk.
  8. To the sides of the pan where the coconut milk is simmering, sprinkle black pepper powder, some ginger and slit green chillies. Add a pinch of salt to the sides. Let the fish poach in the sauce for 3-4 minutes on a low-medium flame.
  9. Finally, add a teaspoon of coconut oil for aroma.
  10. Amazing Fish Nirvana is ready. Serve with Appam, idiyappam, Parotta or matta rice.
  • Author: Kannamma - Suguna Vinodh
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Category: Main
  • Cuisine: Kerala