Sunday, January 5, 2014

Meen Pollichathu ~ Kerala style Baked Fish

One thing I miss the most here in the US, is a ventilated kitchen. Whatever you cook, the smell just remains within the house. If its some baked goodies, its ok because they leave the smell of the essence. But what if it is fish? Fishy smell is not really pleasant, isn't it? So we have almost given up frying fish, but the malayali in me can't resist it when I see the fish lined at the Indian/Asian stores here. So we indulge in these occasionally.

I remember having meen pollichathu long back, made by my mom's cousin, when we had come down to Kerala during our vacation. Those were delicious. I wanted to try it for so long.

Given the fact that, that week's Indian store shopping got us lucky with fish and some banana leaf, I thought of finally making it a reality, else I would have to wait for another batch of banana leaf to appear, which I would be unsure of.

This is the recipe of the Meen pollichathu that we made and had it till we were done having the last crumbs, off the banana leaf.


For the cleaning, marination and frying of fish

  1. 1 tbsp of vinegar
  2. One whole fish or 2 fish fillets - I used whole Pomfret for this recipe
  3. 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
  4. 1/2 tsp of red chilly powder
  5. 1/2 tsp of pepper powder
  6. Salt to taste
  7. 2-3 strands of curry leaves
  8. 1-2 tbsp of oil for frying the fish (preferably coconut oil)
For the masala
  1. 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp of oil (preferably coconut oil)
  2. 5-6 shallots finely sliced
  3. 1/2 tbsp of finely chopped ginger
  4. 1/2 tbsp of finely chopped garlic
  5. 2 green chillies finely chopped
  6. 1/2 tsp of coriander powder
  7. 1/2 tsp of chilly powder
  8. 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
  9. 1/2 tsp of lemon juice
  10. Curry leaves
  11. Salt to taste
  12. 1/4 cup of thick coconut milk
  13. Banana leaf/ aluminium foil


Cleaning, marination and frying of fish
  • Clean the fish thoroughly. Give it a final rinse in a bowl of water, vinegar and 1/2 tbsp of salt. Pat it dry using a paper towel and make gashes on both sides of the fish. 
  • Marinate the fish with turmeric powder, red chilly powder, pepper powder and salt. Keep it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. 
  • Heat a pan and pour the oil. Line the strands of curry leaves and place the fish on top of it. Fry both the sides of the fish lightly, by flipping it when necessary. Remove it on to a plate when done.

Preparing the masala
  1. In the same pan, pour the oil. Once hot, drop in the ginger, garlic and green chillies. Once they loose their rawness, add the sliced shallots, curry leaves and salt. Let the shallots turn soft. 
  2. Add in the coriander powder, chilly powder and turmeric powder. Give it a stir and add the lemon juice. Give it another stir. Now add the coconut milk. Let it heat up untill it just starts to boil. The masala mixture should be more like a paste and not too runny. 
  3. Spread the aluminium foil or banana leaf (which ever you are using to bake the fish) on a baking sheet. Spread half of the masala on it and place the fried fish on top of it. Now spread the remaining masala on top of the fish. Fold the aluminium foil/banana leaf to wrap up the fish completely. If using the banana leaf, tie it up with a twine. 
  4. Bake it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes @ 400 F.
  5. You could also grill it on the stove. Just place the wrapped up fish in a hot cast iron skillet and place another heavy pan on top of it. Grill it on medium high heat flipping it every 10 minutes to cook them evenly.
  6. Serve it hot with some steamed rice and it would be heavenly. All you would be missing, would be a real Alappuzha house boat.

  1. Do not over fry the fish, it should be half fried. 
  2. Placing the strands of curry leaves, when frying the fish helps to prevent the fish from sticking on to the pan and also adds flavor and taste.
  3. If using banana leaf, wash the banana leaf and wipe off excess water from it. Heat up the stove and turn it on low. Place the banana leaf on the stove on low heat for just seconds just untill they start to change from bright green to dull green, so that it looses its stiffness and is flexible enough to wrap the fish in it, without tearing off the leaf. You need to be very careful doing it else you might just burn up the leaf.


  1. Delicious meen pollichathu...

  2. Love it any day :-) Its been a while since I made them though. Love the rice picture!

  3. chudukkan kuthari chorrunodoppam ah policha meen kezhikan enthu ruchiya....thanda pics enikku nadu orma paduthunnu doh...wonderful clicks man

    1. Thank u Divya :) Your description is making me tempt to go make another batch right now :P

  4. i was just smiling at ur first para... my sis during her short stint at the states, used to get shouted by her husband for frying fish most of the day, she's one fish crazy person and she couldn't resist not having it, and that poor guy would have his shirts smelling of fish! :) I love pollichathu, and ur snaps are just tempting me too much... especially love that snap with the hot hot rice...

    1. Oh ya Rafee... preparing a simple curry would leave the home with all that smell. We try closing the bedroom doors and closets before we cook but still somehow the smell circulates within the whole home

  5. My neighbor's daughter who is settled in U.S also complains of the same thing that the smell just would not go.They being keralite cook fish daily. lovely snaps especially the steaming bowl of rice.

    1. Funny it may sound but when we shift apartments and look out to make new friends within the apartment...taking a round of the apartment during dinner time would be enough to get hold of Indian families :D

  6. You can sail a boat in my mouth...drooling here!

  7. looks real yumm...lovely clicks too

  8. Lovely Anupa, lookms so yummy and delicious...

  9. I am drooling... This is by far one of my favorite dishes... Loved it dear!

  10. Nice capture of luks delcious n making me hungry..

  11. Meen pollicahthu adipoli Anupa, Love that steam coming click.

  12. Ayyo i know exaclty what u r saying..that fishy smell never goes away rt ? But we still fry fish and open the kitchen window through out even when its freezing but still it wont go,our coats, tops, shirts eveything get that smell, my friend who went to return a cloth for a refund had a funny experience here,saying that it has got some food smell and didnt get a refund =D BTW kothipichu konallo..

    1. I don't have a window in the kitchen *sigh*.... so the smell has to pass all the way through the front room (distributing some to the bedroom) and then go out through the front then we would anyways be left smelling of food... If I have to surprise Jacob by making something can never be a surprise...he can smell it the time he steps into the house.

  13. Anupa....I cannot take my eyes of the fish...I loved the picture of the steaming rice...nice capture there..

    Meen Pollichathu is in my to do list for a long time and wanted to do it outside on a grill, but never got a chance to do in in last summer. I have a window in my kitchen and got one of the fans that Malayalis put here in US :), but the thing is that whenever I cook, the smell goes to the neighbor's driveway side ..hehe..they are Italians, but his wife like Indian food...her husband thinks that I am in the kitchen 24/7...hehe.. Even thought I have enough ventilation and door for the kitchen, the smell of sauteing onions, garlic & ginger lingers in the house. I bake afterwards when I cook something that is really pungent in smell.

    You can boil water with some cinnamon sticks and orange rinds in a saucepan to get rid of the cooking smell.

    1. Thank u Shibi... I never knew abt that little trick...should try it soon..
      ha ha ha...24/7 cooking... athe kollam... so the smell does last that long ehh... we stay in apartment so all the apartments surrounding ours get that curry smell..noone complaints thought but we ourself hate too much of the curry smell

      if we call someone to our place, we make sure we r done with the cooking 1 hr before that and keep spraying room freshners...which I hate..ellam koodi oru vrithiketta manam akkum

  14. I immediately searched for this recipe after visiting allepey house boat. Thanks a lot. Can we try this with Red snapper?

    1. U can...but personally I feel pearl spot/sardines go well for this recipe :)

  15. Thank you chechi. Everything I tried in reference to ur reverie has been a hit. Since I am in US too the methodologies really has been very useful

    1. Glad to know that you liked it :).. Thanks for trying and coming back and letting me know


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