Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Meen Pollichathu / Fish baked in homemade sauce

    Fishing is my uncle's hobby.  He is so good one feels he can catch them with his bare hands.    He can fish with fishing rods, nets and also by one of the more primitive ways of forking out the fish.  If you are not squeamish about watching a fish being caught then watching him fish is worthwhile. It amazes me every time I accompany him on his fishing expeditions.  He plops some cooked tapioca by the edge of the river and keeps a close watch from the banks.  After a couple of minutes, he positions the spear (an iron rod with a pointed tip) and in a sweeping movement cuts through the water and hits the target.  He's got his pearl spot (fish) of the day .  Tapioca according to him is the best lure to catch black pearl spot from the river.

Once the fish is caught it is mostly fried.  But once in a while a more elaborate preparation, pollichathu.  The malayalam word pollichathu more or less means 'searing.' However, the preparation for this dish includes two processes.  Searing and then slow cooking.  Once the fish is lightly browned on both sides it's wrapped in banana leaf with a sauce and cooked in a shallow earthen pot turning intermittently.  The flavor of this dish is acquired from 1. Obviously the sauce 2. From banana leaf paired with the fact its cooking in an earthen pot on coal.  The slow burning of the banana leaf in the earthen port exudes a flavor which cannot be mimicked in a modern day oven.  However, to indulge in anything even remotely tasting like the real deal of a meen pollichathu is worthwhile.  I bought some whole tilapia (by the way it has an uncanny resemblance to pearl spot) on my last shopping fix and regaled, so to speak.  I have given a modern day approach for cooking a traditional dish here.  The method given below is using foil paper instead of banana leaf and cooking in a electric oven as against the earthen pot.  Hope you enjoy this favorite of mine.
Ingredients:
Whole Tilapia with skin and tail on - 2
Onions - 1 Medium
Tomato - 1 large
Kokum - 1 small piece
Ginger - 1 Tbspn
Garlic - 1 Tbspn
Curry Leaves - 2 sprigs
Turmeric - 1  tspn
Chili powder - 1 Tbspn
Pepper powder - 1 tspn
Coconut Milk - 1/4 cup
Method:
1. Clean and gash the fish and pat dry.  I cleaned out the gills, fins etc.  I mostly get fish which is already gutted
2. Rub salt about 1/2 tspn, turmeric 1/2 tspn, pepper a little and vinegar just enought to moisten the powders or help you spread it on the fish.  Marinate for about 1/2 hour
3. Soak the kokum in as little water as you need to soak
3. At this point you can start on your sauce.  Saute the onions to tanslucent and add ginger followed by garlic and saute
4. Add all the powders turmeric, chili and pepper and once oil clears or you get the cooked smell add chopped tomatoes
5. Saute till oil seperates and add the kokum with the water.
6. You need a thick consistency for the sauce so if there is a lot of water cook it down and reducing the heat  add coconut milk.  Mix in and turn off the heat.
7. Place foil paper in case you do not have banana leaves into a baking pan big enough to hold the fish
8. Spread half of your sauce at the base

Searing the Fish
8. In a non stick skillet add a tinge or oil and brown the fish on both sides turning carefully to keep the fish in tact.
9. Place it over the sauce in the baking pan and top it with the remaining sauce
10. Close the foil over to wrap the fish and sauce
11. Bake in 300 F oven for 35 - 40 minutes. 

Contributor : Sunitha

58 comments:

  1. Wow Sunitha...LOVE Ur Meen Pollichathu..and thanks for letting us know the traditional way of making it..I'm sure it tastes divine..UR take on this recipe is SUPERB..Since I love sea food..I have to try this soon. CLICK is AWESOME !!!. Also my older son Jay loves fishing , I guess I can send him to ur uncle to learn the ABC's of fishing...LOL

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  2. great recipe!.. never knew tapioca is used as bait for fishing!

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  3. Absolute matter of facts have been shared by you sunitha,have n't tried hands on fishing yet but would like to.Stunning baked fish,looks classic .Thanks for the recipe.

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  4. What a lovely looking dish. I'm sure it must be delicious. I didn't know tapioca could be used for fishing. I hope you are having a wonderful day.
    Blessings...Mary

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  5. Hi sunitha the dish is just awesome...I am literarily drooling....the colour and snap is just superb....bookmarked.....

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  6. Fish gravy looks yum...luv ur clicks!

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  7. Wonderful click dear... beautiful. Gravy looks yumm too.

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  8. Slurp!!!.....I love these....I just had it once in whole of my lifetime and that too prepared by me!!!!It is not a regular in kannur area at all....I also prepared like u, with tilapia and using foil...but i did it on the stove top in a large frying pan:)...Yummy...but its a bit of work..:)...but i love it...:)

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  9. Gulmohar, i have an award for u on my blog, please do the meme...i would love to read it...

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  10. Meen Curry looks simply awesome. Very Colorful and Spicy looking preparation. This month I am visiting Thiruvananthapuram with my family . Would definitely try it even once during my stay.

    Hamaree Rasoi

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  11. Fish looks fabulous....Loved your version....sure to give it a try.

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  12. Wonderful click dear... beautiful. Gravy looks yumm too

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  13. Love this recipe, very neatly explained. I have bookmarked this one.

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  14. your meen polluchathu looks awesome... photos kalakki... beautiful clicks... We will definitely try this one...

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  15. WOW!! Great pics! I'm drooling over that last picture..Thanks for sharing..

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  16. I like to bake fish, healthier than deep fried! Nice with all the creamy and spicy gravy on top!

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  17. Fish looks simply superb.Love the colour.great click.

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  18. Sunitha,

    Meen pollichathu adipoli.

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  19. Healthy and yummy fish, great pic too...

    http://treatntrick.blogspot.com

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  20. Good for your uncle! Amazing and I would love to watch him catching the fish! The recipe sounds delicious and would love it baked!

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  21. What a tasty fish recipe - it looks great.

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  22. The fish looks simply fabulous!I didn't know Tapioca was the best lure..Last picture is too good..making me wish i was there for a bite!

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  23. Lovely and mouth watering recipe. Fish looks tempting and delicious.

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  24. Omg, cant take my eyes from the click, truly tempting and makes me hungry..

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  25. Oh, I love fishing very much. I wish your uncle will take me as his student in fishing :P It's so fun! Love your fish recipe. The ingredients are my favourite. I can just imagine the fish is very delicious. Thanks for sharing. MaryMoh athttp://www.keeplearningkeepsmiling.com

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  26. my mouth is watering in spite of me being averse to sea food

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  27. Love the pic!!! And meen pollichathu is so delicious,I often wish we had some bananaa leaves handy!!Will try this for sure.

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  28. hello Sunitha, this is not fair, zooming that half of the fish, almost eaten ( certainly by you, lol) is so much temptation that I 'm almost sticking to my screen with the mouth wide open, hehehe

    nice explanation about how this polichadhu is done and about your uncle, it reminds me of a movie in which hrithik roshan catches the fish right from the river with his hands :P

    seriously, fishing is a nice hobby, there are so many passionate fishing men here too and curiously most of them are men :)

    delicious dish you've got there!!!

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  29. Great pics (as always) and the recipe..Thank a ton for sharing...

    Love
    Kairali sisters

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  30. Oh dear! what a picture. I am amazed at your uncle's fishing skill. True words on banana leaf's smell in that fish curry....Thanks for the polichathu recipe. You tempted me a lot.I will try to get some frozen banana leaf and try my best. Do they serve it in Trivandrum restaurants? If so I will get it when I visit my brother:)

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  31. this is wonderfully done! i love fish and it's nice to find new recipes that tickle my tastebuds!
    cheers!

    krissy @ thefoodaddicts.com

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  32. u r just making me drool here with such a mouth-watering fish...my diet is spoiled now:(

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  33. such an awesome looking dish...sunitha!

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  34. yumm love that sauce on top. Whats kokum? is it the same as tamarind?

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  35. This is just super. The gravy on the top is the attraction to me.
    Even I love to go fishing in the river nearby. May be next time I will used the cooked tapioca trick. Thanks for the lovely recipe.lOVELY LICK TOO DEAR.

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  36. Lovely click! Love that sauce on top of the fish. Can't wait to try it.

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  37. Hey dear thanks for visiting :)...ya I knw so true..but at least we found each other now :)....you have a gr8 space too and this fish curry wow to die for...looks so tempting...nice clicks...

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  38. I'm not a sea-food fan but your gorgeous photos make me want to try out this fish: Sounds and looks wonderful.

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  39. U have made it beautifully, the fish is awesome!

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  40. looks perfect and tempting!...nice click!

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  41. Fish curry loooks great n spicy colourful with nice photography dear,,,

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  42. the fish looks mouthwatering nice click too!

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  43. Very tempting fish curry..loved it sunita, great pics too

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  44. I've never heard of using tapioca as a bait! What an interesting idea!

    This fish looks delicious. That sauce - mouth-watering.

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  45. YUM! What a fresh and flavorful fish!

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  46. wow..ur fish looks sooo delicious..we had a pond in my mom's house and wen we were kids we used to try our hands on fishing..but i have never caught a single fishu need patience to let the fish catch the bait..ya..i dont..after a while ig et bored and go away..

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  47. Mouthwatering recipe, looks tempting and delicious.

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  48. Drooling !!! am a fish addict. I always explore for variety of ways to cook fish. With sauce and baking, definitely a must try recipe.

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