Tuesday, 20 September 2011




     1)    Large Karimeen or Mackerel or Pomfret – 1 kg.
     2)    Tomato – 200 gm.
     3)    Ginger – 50 gm.
     4)    Garlic – 2 bulbs
     5)    Shallots – 300 gm.
     6)    Hot green chilies – 4 Nos.
     7)    Red chili powder – 2 teaspoon
     8)    Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
     9)    Tender curry leaves -  2 sprigs
     10)     Coconut oil – 3 tablespoon
     11)     Lime – half a piece
     12)     Salt – 2 teaspoon
     13)     Banana leaves to wrap the fish

To Prepare:

          Clean the fish. If you are using Karimeen (the tastiest of Kerala fishes), skin it before use. If you are using Mackerel or Pomfret, remember to make 3 or 4 shallow cuts or grooves on either side of the fish for marinating nicely. After removing the fins and guts, wash well in water laced with vinegar. This will get rid of any fishy smells and make the fish thoroughly clean. Sprinkle a little salt and squeeze on the lime juice and set aside to marinate.

To Cook:

          Chop and nicely puree the tomatoes. Peel the shallots, ginger and garlic. Chop the chilies, the shallots, the ginger, the garlic and the curry leaves. Grind to fine paste.

          Cut the banana leaves into pieces large enough to wrap the fish. Hold the cut leaves over the stove to wilt them a little so that they are softer and will not tear when the fish are wrapped.

          Pour the coconut oil into a wok. Tip in the tomato puree and stir until it reduces and thickens nicely. Now all the other paste and stir on low heat for 10 minutes. Add the chilli powder, the turmeric powder and the salt. Stir for a minute and turn off the heat. Taste and add more seasoning if required. Your masala is now ready.

          Now scoop up the masala and smear thickly on either side of a fish. Stuff a little in the gut area too. Now wrap with the banana leaf and tie with a cotton string so that it stays wrapped. Likewise, prepare the remaining fish too.

          Put a thick non–stick pan on the stove on low heat. Place the wrapped fish in the pan. Take care to put only a single layer of fish with adequate space to flip over. Cover with a cloche or lid and roast the fish very slowly so that it cooks in its own juice without burning.

          When the lower side is roasted, flip over to the other side. Put the lid on again. You will know the fish is cooked when the banana leaf is roasted and the most appetizing aroma fills your kitchen.

Enjoy hot.

          Karimeen is a brackish water, air breathing, mouth brooder fish found abundantly in the rivers and backwaters of Kerala. It is around 6 to 10 inches long, around 5 inches wide and around an inch and a half thick.

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