30 September 2013

Karimeen Pollichathu/Pearl spot fish baked/grilled in Banana leaves


My previous post was Karimeen Porichathu/Pearl Spot fish fry and this is also the same fish,Karimeen's/Pearl spot's recipe but this recipe makes the previous one just "Extraordinary".If Karimeen porichathu is the king of any Kerala fish fries ,then this recipe,Karimeen pollichathu is the king of king's fish fry /grilled/baked.It is a pretty popular, one of a kind, must try traditional delicacy of Kerala,southern state of India.They are quite famous in well known restaurants in Kerala and moreover in houseboats as one of the must and  most sought after dish in their respective menus.It is a spicy cum tangy fish fry.The word "Pollichathu" means "burnt/grilled".Initially fish is marinated and mildly fried and eventually wrapped in Banana leaves and deep steamed/baked/grilled with Kerala spices for a spicy kick and tomato/tamarinds/cambodge(Malabar Tamarind) for the tanginess. Once you have this dish , you are never ever going to forget this fish in your life and you will be always thanking Kerala or a Keraltie for sure ;).

Since I am from The Venice....I mean "The Venice from the East" ;),"Alleppey" , Kerala, we get this fish abundantly yet they are quite pricey .Therefore , it is not a staple fish in every household .This fish is prepared mostly during any special occasions. However, luckily my aunts, my mom's sister and my dad's sister live in beautiful houses located near by (different) backwaters and so whenever we visited them, we were pampered with this delicacy and  it used to be a fun filled sights to watch loads of local people gathering near the backwater for fishing and the way they would catch some fresh fighting for life fish and how they would distribute among themselves and eventually people retiring to their home happily gearing up for a yummy meal of the day .

I kinda envy my aunts (in a good way though) :).. How lucky they are to live near beautiful backwaters, surrounded by coconut trees & paddy fields, boats, fresh varieties of fish every day, like a serene life in the lap of mother nature.. How simple & peaceful !!

Anyways, my aunts like my mom are undoubtedly great at cooking .They all have their own way of cooking style and everything they cook become simply finger licking ones. Since I was raised in North India, we never got this fish and so mom never made this until we got settled in Kerala. So, I got a chance to try this recipe at my aunt's house first and then in the houseboat. The flavor varied but the tastes lingers and tickles my palate every now and then.

Alleppey Houseboat-What a beauty..what a sight !!

Karimeen Polichathu


Karimeen/Pearl spot fish (medium)- 2 nos.

For marination
Red chili powder - 1 tablespoon
Coriander powder - 1/4 teaspoon(optional)
Pepper powder- 1 teaspoon
Fennel powder-1/4 teaspoon(optional)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Water-1 teaspoon
Lemon juice- 1 teaspoon
Salt-to taste

To grind 
Ginger,chopped - 1 teaspoon
Garlic,chopped- 1 teaspoon
Shallots- 2 nos.

For masala gravy 
Shallots, chopped - 1 cup
Green chillies, chopped- 2-4 nos.
Tomato, chopped - 1 no.
Red chili powder - 1 tablespoon
Coriander powder- 1 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder-1/4 teaspoon
Pepper powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt - to taste
Thick coconut milk - 4 tablespoon
Coconut Oil-2-4 tablespoon
Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
Banana leaves, Long enough for wrapping - 2 nos.
Lemon juice- As needed

Preparation method:

  • Clean the fish properly and slit them both the sides.
  • Marinate them with chili powder, coriander powder, pepper powder, fennel powder, turmeric powder, lemon juice,little water and salt both the sides and keep it aside/refrigerate it for 15-30 minutes.
  • Heat a pan with coconut oil , put 2 sprig of curry leaves and on that shallow fry the fish ,should not be completely cooked or crispy just a light fry both sides until like light brown on medium flame.Remove the fish keep them aside.
  • If there is enough oil left continue making the gravy in the same pan or else add enough oil or heat it in another pan,saute the onions till transparent,then add green chillies,ginger-garlic-shallot ground paste and saute for a while until the ginger-garlic's raw smell disappears.
  • Add red chili powder,coriander powder,turmeric powder,pepper powder,salt (bear in mind that there is already salt in the fried fish ,so add accordingly) and saute until oil separates.
  • Add tomato,curry leaves and cook covered until it becomes a gravy.
  • Add the coconut milk ,mix well and cook on medium to slow flame until it becomes a thick paste/masala consistency.
  • Take the banana leaves and wilt it under a slow flame/pass it slowly from end to end over the low flame of a cooking gas/stove.Make sure you don't burn them.Once done wipe it with a damp cloth.This is done to make it flexible to fold properly so that the leaf doesn't tear apart.
  • Now put a layer of masala on the banana leaf and the fried fish on the top ,followed by a second layer of masala on the top of the fish.
  • Now wrap the masala fish like a food parcel and tie it with a Banana string , so that the flavor remains trapped inside the wrap and fish cooks well infused in the masala mix completely.
  • Heat a pan with enough oil and place the banana wrapped fish and cook it covered on medium flame for like 15 minutes both the sides.
  • Remove the cover and the Karimeen pollichathu is ready to be served with a plate of steamed rice.     

  1.  If the fish is a frozen one and you want fish from your freezer to taste like it was freshly caught, place the frozen fish in a bath of milk until it thaws. (Courtesy: Reader's digest) 
  2.  You can either grind the ginger garlic or use the chopped ones directly. But shallot should be ground.
  3.  If you don't have Banana leaves, use Aluminium foil instead but the taste will suffer then.
  4. You can also steam the banana wrapped fish like in an idli maker for 15 minutes approx. Or bake it for 20-30 minutes or until done at 350 F.
Here is a parcel for YOU. (Warning: Dig in before Honey P would attack U & make your pollichathu ..hehe :P.This is one of his favorite food.)Eating

BTW,did u check my celebration gallery,do check the Celebration page ..hope u'll like it ;)...

Bon Appetit,

26 September 2013

Karimeen Porichathu/ Pearl spot fish fry


Where the land is covered with lush green paddy fields,
Swaying in pride , the coconut trees,
Surrounded by sun kissed seas,
Simple and generous people live,
All sorts of flora & fauna abundantly thrives,
Beautiful mountains high and lows,
Whispering waterfalls, lakes, canals, sea ,rivers serenely flows,
The land of rice, coconuts and spices,
A picturesque natural beauty that always mesmerizes,
The land found by the almighty, lord,
There do I belong and proudly abode.........
(A small poem written by me dedicated to my native place in India,God's own country,Kerala)

Yes that's a small poetic glimpse of my home state, Kerala and my home town is famously known as ,"The Venice of the East","Alappuzha "(previously known as Alleppey) ,the name honored by one of the viceroy of the Indian empire of the early 20th century,Lord Curzon.

"Here nature has spent up on the land her richest bounties. In his exhilaration, he exclaimed, Alleppey, the Venice of the East." ~ Lord Curzon

Alappuzha , the name itself means an amalgamation of the sea and a network of rivers. And so my town is quite popular for its spectacular backwaters with its pride ride , the humble yet magnificent houseboats, simplicity at its best -the lifestyle, the residents and their attitudes thereby. A must to see , enjoy & cherish forever activity/destination for any die hard traveler and you'll know why this southern part of India is proudly called ,"God's own country".

Last year I got a golden chance to enjoy the p"RIDE" of Alappuzha backwaters, the houseboats .Here is a sneak peek through my eyes (or my camera's eyes) just for YOU.

Row of  beauties swinging back & forth on the backwater....

Do you know what's the speciality food served in these riding abodes? Varieties of sea foods plus other Kerala favorite lip smacking menu. One such tantalizing special sea food item is hot "Karimeen Porichathu/Pearl spot fish fry" with boiled plain rice and other tasty curries and side dish.The specialty about this fish is not only that they are found abundantly here in Alappuzha ,but also that they are freshly caught and freshly made for you on the spot. How yummy is that? Are you drooling? ...well, I don't know about you but I am Big Drooling.It's my favorite and I betcha every proud Keralite's too :). A quite sought after delicacy of Kerala.

Here's a snap of the celebrity sea food of God's own country ,"Karimeen aka Pearl spot ".
Something FISHy here-is that a French kiss session going on here ;O))..damn there's a villain 2..playing gooseberry huh ?..Love is tough indeed!!

Unfortunately, here in the US I have never ever got the fresh Pearl spots, so I end up using the frozen ones from the Kerala store. They taste not that close to what we get back in Kerala. Nevertheless, Thank God at least,"Something is better than nothing" ; P. Hard to get but easy & tasty to make & eat.


Karimeen Fry


Karimeen cleaned and slit-2 nos.
Red chili powder- 1 1/2 tablespoon
Coriander powder- 1/4 teaspoon (optional)
Turmeric powder- 1/4 teaspoon
Pepper powder-2 teaspoon
Ginger-garlic paste- 1 tablespoon
Water-1-2 teaspoon
Salt-To taste
Lemon juice- 1 tablespoon
Coconut oil-As required.

Preparation Method

  • Clean the fish properly , make 4-5 slits on both the sides and smear the lemon juice all over them and keep it aside.
  • Meantime,grind the shallot,ginger-garlic paste,salt,water and all the powders into a fine thick paste.
  • Apply this paste on the slit fish on both the sides and keep it aside /refrigerate it(15-30 minutes).
    Add caption
  • After 3o minutes or so, heat a pan with enough coconut oil to fry the fish.
  • Deep fry both sides of the fish until they get golden in color on medium heat .
  • Karimeen is ready to be served with hot rice and curry and side dish if any.
  1.  If your fish is a frozen one and you want fish from your freezer to taste like it was freshly caught, place the frozen fish in a bath of milk until it thaws. (Courtesy: Reader's digest) 



Bon Appetit

24 September 2013

Spinach Rice

I think if there is any leafy vegetable from the vegetable kingdom that screams "Go green" that should be the Spinach leaves.These green leaves are the powerhouse of multi-vitamins,minerals ,fibre,proteins,even plant derived Omega fatty acids.So nutirent rich,low in calorie and so good for health.Right from our brain,eyes,heart,stomach,blood,skin ,hair and what not it keeps tip to toe,inside out of a human body healthy and going.With its antioxidant properties it keeps the deadly cancers especially prostrate cancers in check.In short a 5 star super food it is and must have in our daily menu. Moreover, so easy and fast to cook .


Inspite of all these benefits lectured by my parents when I was little,I somehow liked it,ate it but still hate it for a very funny reason.

Since my mom is very fair and lovely lady and myself with a wheatish complexion,I often complained that I didn't get my mom's fair complexion.The main culprits were my relatives and other near and dear ones from my native place,Kerala .Whenever we visited Kerala during school vacation (from North India ) ,all my relatives at my mom's place would say ,"Oh sweety,u look like your dad cutchicoo"..some would say,"Sweety,what happened to your complexion,u look dull and dark?" and at my dad's place everyone would be like ,"Awww..she is so cute (I was kinda South Indian child actress,Baby Shalini's look alike they said) BUT not like her mom,her mom used to be more fairer than she is now ,just like a doll " . Embarrassed smiley face.Well,it's always nice to hear about my mom's beauty ,very proud :) but why do they have to compare always..In my mind it was like ,"Look who is talking,u non-fair racist ".I Hate You.Moreover, to add fuel to the fire,they would say ,"Your brother is just like your mama,very fair". Bang head on wall.You know,during childhood days small sibling rivalries,jealousy etc used to be there but not anymore though but yeah once there was and it irked me more then.Phewss... Girl says Whatever.Whatever ! Really??


Nope it wasn't. I approached my parents especially mommy dearest with my heart and skin felt concern.She with her warm lovely smile that can melt anyone's heart in a second said,"My beautiful daughter ,they are just kidding and you should be proud that you look like your father,Isn't your father,a very handsome man? " 
Blushing Smile(<- mom blushing !!). I was like,"Ofcourse mom,my dad is and I am very happy to be my handsome daddy's little girl".BUT STILL !

Mom would come up with second explanation.Since your birth star (astrological stuff..phew) and Lord Krishna's star are same,look at his unique lovely complexion baby :).She would step ahead and say,"You are afterall God's fave child dear "! . That didn't sound that convincing to me and I overruled saying mom no wonder why even Lord Krishna once complained the same and we both were singing the song from the old Hindi flick,"Satyam Shivam Sundaram" ,"Yashomati maiya se bole nandalalaa,Radha kyu gori mein kyu kaala " (Lord Krishna asked hs mother ,"Why is Radha fairer than me"? ) ...to this we all Big grin.


However I didnot yet forget my question ..Didn't get the root of my problem.So,I still bothered my mom.As I grew up .Thanks to Biology classes hehe ;). I asked my mom ,"Amma what exactly did you eat while carrying bhaiya/brother and me? I mean anything you ate more,unusual while you were expecting me Pancake..huh?...To which she replied,yeah her Ob/Gyn suggested her to amp up the iron level and she did !!

Guess what she ate a lot.....The culprit i believe and I blame her that made me not fair like mom and my bhai jaan..."SPINACH THE GREAT" !!! Cute Sad Smiley.

I still pull my mom's leg for the same :D .She would just laugh it off saying,"You are my Golden precious little girl". You know like "SU" nehriii from the Hindi movie ,Dhoom 2 ;D :P.
My mom would say,"Always be grateful to God for what he gave you,for you are blessed ".Keep your heart pure and white always ,for God resides there,that matters :).

Though I know that spinach might have played a tiny role because of the iron content but then there are many other factors like gene related etc that contributes to skin color,texture etc.It's still fun you know :D.All such silly teeny weeny incidents makes life more interesting and later memorable I believe.

I do eat Spinach ,I didn't give up on it .Afterall,how can I forgot my parents also taught me never to give up on anybody/anything ,value everything.

What I like the most about spinach are that they are so quick to make,kind of melts and blends fast, as a healthy juice,hot soup,an easy yummy side dish or one pot meal like the one I usually make ,The Spinach rice.

Time to wake up people.Hope you didn't sleep after reading my lifestory :D.Hellooo...wake uppp..
Here is the recipe for you :

Spinach Rice


Basmati Rice - 1 1/2 cup
Water- 1 1/2 cup
Salt - To taste
Cinnamon - 1' piece
Cardamom- 2 
Clove- 4
Bay leaf- 3
Ghee - 2 tablespoon

Spinach ,pureed - 1 cup
Onion,chopped - 1/2 cup
Tomato,chopped (small/medium) - 1
Green Chili - 4 nos.
Potato,cubed- 1/2 cup
Toor Dal- 1/2 cup(Optional)
Garlic minced- 2 nos.
Garam Masala powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds- 1/2 teaspoon
Coconut powder- 1/2 teaspoon(optional)

Preparation Method :

  • Heat ghee in the pressure cooker and put cumin seeds,cinnamon,cardamom,cloves ,coconut powder and Bay leaf and stir for a sec or two.
  • Add chopped onion and green chili and fry until onion becomes translucent.
  • Add minced/pressed Garlic and stir lightly until its raw smell disappears.
  • Add tomato and let it become soft and mushy.
  • Add Garam masala powder.Give a stir.
  • Add cubed potato pieces,toor dal and pureed spinach and stir for a few minutes until raw smell of spinach disappears.
  • Add the rice ,salt and water.Stir everything.

  • Pressure cook for two whistles (my cooker's cooking time,adjust yours) or until it is cooked.
  • That's it Spinach Rice/Pulao/Pilaf is ready to be served.
  • Enjoy it with a simple raita/yogurt sauce and pickle or any curry of your choice.
  1. Did you know that when you cook spinach ,it's nutrient level increases unlike other vegetables ?
  2. Always buy "ORGANIC" spinach as the other ones are laden with pesticides which don't clear out simply by washing under water.
  3. Toor Dal is optional .I add it to make it more healthy and I love spinach and potato combo. That's why the potato is there. You can omit it. You can even try with ginger-garlic paste.The taste will vary. Similarly,instead of garam masala,even sambar powder or any curry powder can be used.The taste will be different but good ofcourse.

Bon Appetit ,

20 September 2013

Parippu vada/Lentil fritters


I love travelling in trains, be it long journeys or short ones. Love it. However, I hate AC compartments (in Indian trains) because it makes me feel caged ,literally choked up and everything looks just black & white inside..what you can do there other than sleep or gup-shup/chit chat :-\ instead I like the first class or the second class compartments better as I feel free, enjoying the beautiful sceneries at best (except the toilet though.. eww). You know for me, a simple pleasure of life I would say (especially if I get a window seat & it's not over crowded).

Different kinds of people from different places hop in, to reach different destinations , some busy gossiping, some busy studying, some playing games most likely antakshri, some sleeping , some reading, some staring and some busy eating for example "ME" :D. Ohh yes ! First thing I do (actually still do ) is hurrying up to get a window seat and the second thing ,something to munch,crunch and that will be one happy journey for me.One such snack I remember in Kerala local trains is,"Vada,vadai,parippu vadaaiii" :D ...I don't know why but for me any foods we get in train just tastes yummy even if I might not be a big fan of them .Thank God my parents are not reading this but they know it and their typical reply would be,"Yeah yeah anything not good for her health ,she will just love it" ..and yes I do love them :P though I prefer Uzhunnu vada/Black gram lentil fritters more than Parippu vada. At home I love uzhunnu vada and my brother loves parippu vada and my mom used to be like Facing Problems. But somehow mom would certainly make each one of them any week.My shweet mommaaa....


Parippu vada is also my better 1/2's favourite (as you can see I hardly got enough vadas (especially the good shaped ones) even to take a proper picture of ). Infact, snacks have the magical power to change my hubby into a happy kid like this Cheerful Dancing Baby(Only the dancing part ok ). Though I love the kid in him, I still resist myself making snacks especially the deep fried ones that often as I end up making a lot and it is too difficult to have just one and consequently not quite healthy.

Small sinful spellful magnets they are !! Ain't they?


This vada also reminds me my college days when I was ragged by my seniors  and I was asked to demonstrate how these vadas and chais/Teas are sold at train stations or in trains and guess what I without any hesitation ,I was like ,"Vadai vadai parippu vadai,chai chaiyaaaaaaaa" (Credit:Train journey effect) :D which they were like LOLing but then later made me sing as well ,which also I did and after that day during lunch times (that used to be their hunt times for ragging )I used to just hide and vanish in Library room :D....hmmm though at that time felt kinda uncomfortable now those moments are kind of sweet memories to LOL.

On to the recipe, Parippu Vadas are deep fried lentil fritters , a famous crunchy tea time snack of Kerala made up of Toor dal/Chana dal ,onion, chili and ginger mainly.They are available in every tea shops at every nook and corner of Kerala. Quite easy to prepare fresh at home as well. A hot tea and hot vada are just made for each other. A bliss to enjoy together.

This is how I make ,"Parippu vada"


Toor Dal /Yellow pigeon peas- 1 cup
Dry red chili - 2 nos.
(Medium) Onion, chopped - 1no.
Green chilies , chopped - 3-4 nos.
Ginger ,chopped & crushed - 1 1/2-2 teaspoon
Curry leaves, chopped - 1-2 sprigs
Fennel seeds/Perumjeerakam - 1/4 teaspoon (optional)
Asafoetida powder- a pinch
Salt- to taste
Coconut oil/Cooking oil - 2 cup

Preparation method:

  • Clean the toor dal in water properly and soak them in enough water for 1 1/2 hour .
  • Later drain the water completely and grind it with the dry red chilies into a coarse paste without adding water or just a teaspoon of water if it's too dry to grind properly .Do not make it a smooth paste at all,should look like dals were just crushed.
  • Now mix chopped onion, green chilies, ginger, curry leaves, fennel seeds, asafoetida and salt to the above ground mixture. Keep it aside for a few minutes- 10 minutes.
  • Now make small lime sized balls from the mixture and flatten them between your hands (should not be too thick or too thin like medium flat) and keep all of them aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan on high flame .
  • Put a bit/piece of the mixture into the oil, if it starts frying up properly, reduce the flame to medium-low and add the flattened Vadas into the oil without overcrowding it.
  • Deep fry it, flipping it both sides until golden brown or further more to make it extra crispy and then it will look dark brown not burnt though.
  • Remove the fried vadas onto the tissue paper to absorb the excess oil.
  • Enjoy crunchy hot vadas with a hot cup of cha/Tea.

Bon Appetit,