My husband was going through my old food photographs, looking at one photo he said,:you have never made me this one". So I decided to cook it for him today.The recipe is Fish pollichathu. I was introduced to this dish by my dad - the fish lover,and this is one of my his favorite recipe.My dad used to go to a restaurant in R.S.Puram, Coimbatore, to eat this dish and this dish alone costs more than it would cost for whole family meal in Annapoorna (it's a famous south Indian chain of restaurant). I was so angry at my dad cos, he had a budding cook (:D) at home and went out to eat this dish, so i decided to cook it for him and
he said it tasted very similar to the restaurant and i was elated.
This dish is a kerala style dish called as "meen pollichathu" meaning fish in banana leaf.Today i am using aluminium foil instead of banana leaf, with fish marinated in spices and a smothered in a spicy gravy,covered and baked in the oven. The aroma fills the room once you open the foil and its is so so gud when eaten hot. This can be served with rice,roti. Today I served it with couscous, simply cooked in water with salt,cumin and chilly powder. You can use any white fleshed fish as a whole one or individual fillets. I used Tilapia fillets.
Most of the kerela dishes are prepared with coconut oil, but you can substitute with any olive oil or any oil of your preference.Traditional pollichathu dish doesn't have cashews in it, but tats my twist.
I couldn't get a proper photo of the cooked fish because my husband was in a hurry to go to office and I waited till the last minute to put the fish in the oven cos I wanted him to eat it hot. I just was able to steal an OK foto of it.You can actually see the hot steam coming out, it clouded my lens :(
If you are using whole fish, clean it,scale it and score it.This is a spicy dish reduce the red chilly if you want it less spicy. I have also given the option of using coconut milk to tone down the spice a bit.
Fish Pollichathu Serves 4
Fish fillets - 4
Pearl onions / small onion, chopped - 5 (can substitute with regular onions)
Ginger and garlic paste - 2 tspn
Red chilly - 4 / 5
Curry leaves - half stem
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tspn
Cashew - 4
Salt - 1/2 tspn
Red onion chopped - 1 big
Tomato chopped - 2
Coriander powder - 1 tspn
Pepper powder - 1/2 tspb
Curry leaf - 1/2 stem
Chilly powder - 1/4 tspn
Coconut milk / cream- 3 tspn (optional)
Coconut oil or any oil of choice - 2 tspn
Salt to taste - 1/2 tspn
Method:Preheat the oven to 350 F
Blend all the marinade ingredients together, score the fish with a knife so that the marinade seeps in. Add the fish to the marinade and let it rest in the fridge for 30 mins.
In a pan add oil, once hot add,curry leaves and chopped onion and fry until the onions are translucent and caramelized.
At this stage remove the fish from the marinade and keep aside.Scrape all the marinade from the fish.
Add the marinade to the pan with the onion.
Add the chopped tomatoes,coriander powder,chilly powder,cover the pan let the mixture cook for 5 minutes
Add the coconut cream / milk ,salt and simmer for 2 minutes.Do not let the coconut mil to cook for long bcos it might curdle.This step is optional.
Take a large piece of foil and place it on the baking tray. Place a dollop of gravy on the middle and place the fish on top of the gravy and cover the whole fish with the gravy.You can use more or less gravy according to your liking.
Fold one end of the foil over the fish and the other end on the top and fold in the sides as well. The fish has to bake inside the foil so wrap it in any fashion you find easier taking care that the steam doesn't not escape the foil. There should be no holes on it as well.
Cook for 10 - 15 minutes or until the fish is fully cooked.Cooking time may vary according to the size of the fish.