Meen Pollichathu – Fish cooked in banana leaves

meen-pollichathu

kerala-meen-pollichathu-recipe-pic

Meen Pollichathu – Kerala style Meen Pollichathu cooked in coconut oil covered with banana leaves – vazhayila. Traditionally done with karimeen – pearl spot fish. Anthony Bourdain during his trip to Kerala compared the technique of cooking the fish in banana leaf to the classic french technique of fish en papillote (fish steamed in parchment pouches). The flavor penetrates well into the fish and the aroma of banana leaf is divine. This is one of the very classic preparation that everyone loves.

First, lets marinate the fish briefly. I don’t get karimeen – pearl spot fish here. You can use a good thick cut of fish and it works just fine. Sprinkle salt, turmeric and chilli powder on both sides of the fish and spread it evenly all over the meat. Marinate the fish for 10 minutes. Set aside.

kerala-meen-pollichathu-marinate

Fry the fish in a tablespoon of coconut oil. Fry for one to two minutes on each side. The fish might take more time to cook if its thick. I just cooked for a minute on each side. We will again cook it in banana leaf. So do not over cook the fish else the fish will become hard and dry. Use your own judgement. Remove from heat and set aside on a plate to cool.

kerala-meen-pollichathu-roast

Now lets make the masala. Traditionally, Indian shallots (small onions) are used for making the masala. Onions can be used too!
Heat coconut oil in a pan and add in the chopped onions, curry leaves and crushed ginger. Fry till the onions are soft and starting to brown.

kerala-meen-pollichathu-masala

Add in the chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and salt. Fry till the tomatoes are cooked and juicy.
Add in the fresh shredded coconut and coriander leaves. Remove from heat and mix well to combine. Set aside.

kerala-meen-pollichathu-coconut

Lets get the banana leaves ready for wrapping. The banana leaves need to be wilted. Using the raw leaf would likely tear when folded. To avoid this problem, it needs to be wilted on fire. Run the banana leaf on fire for 2-3 seconds. The leaf would have become soft. Set aside. Just mere seconds is good enough. Do not show the leaf on fire for a long time. It might burn.

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Take a big piece of wilted banana leaf and add in two tablespoon of the prepared masala in the center. Add a piece of the fried fish and cover the fish with two tablespoon of masala.

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Fold the banana leaf to make a small packet. Fold from both the sides.

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Fold again on the top and bottom. Place it seam side down so it does not open. Repeat with all the fish pieces. Set aside.

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Place the prepared pockets on a pan and cook for 5 minutes on a low flame, seam side down first. Cover the pan with a lid and cook.The flavor of the banana leaf will penetrate well on a covered pan.

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Turn the pockets and cook again for five minutes. Cover with a lid and cook.

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Remove from heat and serve with lime / lemon wedges. This dish is traditionally served as is or accompanied with Kerala matta rice.

kerala-meen-pollichathu

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kerala-meen-pollichathu-recipe

Meen Pollichathu – Fish cooked in banana leaves

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4.8 from 6 reviews

Meen Pollichathu – Kerala style Meen Pollichathu in coconut oil covered in banana leaves – vazhayila. Traditionally done with karimeen – pearl spot fish.

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

Ingredients

Scale

For Frying Fish

  • 4 slices of fish filet
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

For the masala

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 20 shallots or 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1 inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sprigs coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoon fresh shredded coconut

Other ingredients

  • 45 foot banana leaf
  • 45 lime / lemon wedges

Instructions

For Frying Fish

  1. Sprinkle salt, turmeric and chilli powder on both sides of the fish and spread it evenly all over the meat. Marinate the fish for 10 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Fry the fish in a tablespoon of coconut oil. Fry for one minute on each side. Remove from heat and set aside on a plate to cool.

For the Masala

  1. Heat coconut oil in a pan and add in the chopped onions, curry leaves and crushed ginger. Fry till the onions are soft and starting to brown.
  2. Add in the chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and salt. Fry till the tomatoes are cooked and juicy.
  3. Add in the fresh shredded coconut and coriander leaves. Remove from heat and mix well to combine. Set aside.

Cooking the fish in banana leaves

  1. Run the banana leaf on fire for 2-3 seconds. The leaf would have become soft. Set aside.
  2. Take a big piece of wilted banana leaf and add in two tablespoon of the prepared masala in the center. Add a piece of the fried fish and cover the fish with two tablespoon of masala.
  3. Fold the banana leaf to make a small packet. Place it seam side down so it does not open. Repeat with all the fish pieces. Set aside.
  4. Place the prepared pockets on a pan and cook for 5 minutes on a low flame, seam side down first. Cover the pan with a lid and cook. Turn the pockets and cook again for five minutes. Cover with a lid and cook.
  5. Remove from heat and serve with lime / lemon wedges.
  • Author: Kannamma - Suguna Vinodh
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: Kerala

meen-pollichathu

18 thoughts on “Meen Pollichathu – Fish cooked in banana leaves”

  1. Ma’am, this my family ‘s all time favourite recipe. I have done this many times.. But seeing you do this in a video will be helpful. Can you please add a video for this recipe ?






  2. Suganya Narayanaswamy

    Is there an alternative for banana leaf? Never seen a banana leaf in US. Thanks.

  3. I tried it today.I enjoyed the taste of the fish in banana leaf.I drove 30 minutes to buy the banana leaf and it’s worth for this recipe.

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