"This is a journey of my life since I was all of 12 yrs when I started my hand in cooking to now with displays of my learning and creations of recipes from around the world. My inspiration and role model has always been my Mum who has always created dishes from around the world and excellently well. I do not believe I would ever match to her culinary skills. I remember the times she could cook and bake almost 4-5 dishes in one go without ever letting one go under cooked or burnt! I was born and raised in Dubai, UAE and recently moved to India for family reasons. Kitchenette just means that over the decades, my kitchen has changed from that of my mum's to my uncle and aunt's, to my home in UAE and now in India. Pala't'te, describes both global cuisines ('Palatte'-diverse flavours) and pleasing diverse 'Palates'."

Friday, 17 June 2016

Pearl Spot Fish Pan fried in a Banana leaf (Kuttanadan Karimeen Pollichathu) #FishFridayFoodies

This month's Fish Friday Foodies' event is 'Pan or Deep Fried Fish' chosen by April of Angels Home Sweet Homestead. Thanks April for choosing this theme.

I have always wanted to make the Pearl spot in  our traditional Keralite manner. It tastes awesome and is packed with flavour. Not only that it takes very little oil/fat to make it. I tried the traditional Kuttanadan recipe. Read more about the Kuttanad region of Kerala (India) here

Pearl spot is called 'Karimeen' in Kerala and 'Pollichathu' essentially means burnt (in literal terms)/grilled/ pan fried in a Banana leaf. The fish is cleaned and wrapped in whole in the leaf.

This batch of extremely fresh Pearl Spot fish was procured through a good friend Michael Bejoy at our community where we stay. Michael essentially was the first person who helped me out when we moved to Kochi after Mummy had passed away. 

We settled down much faster in Kochi owing to him. I was lost without much assistance since Hubby was traveling most of the time and he kind of did what Mum would have in that circumstance. He pushed me into getting out of home and mingling with the women of our community, who have gone on to being good friends, neighbours and more like family. I can count on them. So I guess besides getting a good batch of fish, I actually got much more. So thank you Michael for being such a good person and friend. Oh and he also helped me avail the banana leaves plus extra Pearl spot fishes for my buck as it was his friend who was selling them. (Happy Me!)

I made the Karimeen Pollichathu in two ways as most of my readers are well aware by now that my little one is anti-spice. We say she is not supposed to have been born into an Indian household owing to her taste buds for non-spicy food. 

As a result all fish in my home is cooked in two clay pots or pans and so also this one was done the same way. The only difference in the recipe being, I did not add the green chilies or chili powder and substituted the chili powder with coriander powder for my little's one's preparation. She loved it!

 I did not share this with my hubby as he was traveling all week and by the time he got home quite late that night, he saw only the bones and the leaf in the food trash and one or two last ones refrigerated. He thought I had bought it from this particular hotel. So I am pleased as it looked like one that was professionally prepared by a chef. *happy smiles* :D! I need to make this one more time for him. Michael will order another batch of Karimeen soon :)!

The spicier version

The one without chili

On with the recipe,

You need:

  • Pearlspot fish / Karimeen (medium sized) : 6 nos, cleaned in whole and oblique incisions made on both sides of each fish
  • 1/2 kg diced Onions
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 2 strips of Cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp Vinegar
  • 4 tbsp Coconut oil
  • Salt – to taste
  • 1" diced Ginger
  • 1 medium sized whole garlic, diced finely (you can reduce the quantity of garlic depending on taste)
  • 6 green chilies
  • 1 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper powder
  • 6 Tomatoes, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp Chilli powder
  • Drinking water
  • 1 large banana leaf or 2 medium sized banana leaves, cleaned and air dried

The Make:
Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 20-30 minutes | Servings: 6

1. Drain the fish well before use.
2. Grind the chili powder, turmeric powder, pepper powder and cumin seeds with 1/2 tbsp vinegar to a fine paste. (For the non-spicy version, as mentioned use coriander powder and try to do that as the first grind to avoid the transference of the chili powder spice. If you are making 2 versions remember to divide the quantities of all the ingredients by half or in relation to the ratios in which you plan to make it).
3. In a clay pot or any other heavy bottomed pot(s), heat a little of the coconut oil.
Fry the cinnamon pieces in the pan.
4.Add the onions, ginger, garlic and green chilies to the pan and saute it well.
Once the onions are cooked well, add the finely ground paste  and saute it well in a low flame.
5. Next add the tomatoes until softened and cooked. Add 2 cups of the boiling water to the cooked mixture.
6. Add salt and the remaining vinegar and mix well. Add the whole fishes to the spices and saute it the gravy thickens and the fish is half cooked which takes about 5-10 minutes. The spices essentially is cooked this way for the Kuttanad version and acts as a marinade for the fish.
7. Each banana leaf can act as a wrap for at least 6 fishes. So using a sharp kitchen knife or blade, slit it vertically into 6-7 pieces and skin off some of the stem from behind the leaf.
8.Wrap each fish, along with the thickened marinade/gravy in a banana leaf. Secure it with banana fibers(from the banana stem) or a use a kitchen string. Heat a pan with some oil and pan fry the fish in the banana leaf with 5 minutes on each side.

Serve it with a choice of your favourite Appams, Steamed rice or Idiyappams (String hoppers)

Would you like to join Fish Friday Foodies?  We post and share new seafood/fish recipes on the third Friday of the month.  To join our group please email Wendy at wendyklik1517@gmail.com.

Visit our Facebook page and Pinterest page for more wonderful fish and seafood recipe ideas.

Do check out what the rest of the Fish Friday Foodies have made for this fabulous June event:


  1. Frying fish in banana leaf give an awesome taste to it.. delicious..

  2. What an amazing and interesting preparation for this fish. Thanks so much for posting this recipe and all the photos.

    1. Thanks Wendy! It is true to the traditional preparation of our hometown. Appreciate the kind feedback and response <3

  3. This looks wonderful! So glad you shared it this month!

    1. Thanks Colleen! I almost missed it but was determined to push through. It came at a price though, I missed traveling yesterday for the weekend home and had to leave early morning. That is fine though as I feel happy that I could get this out to you all :)

  4. What a great story. This is a new fish for me! I'm not sure I've even heard of pearlspot. You dish is gorgeous!!

    1. Thanks Karen! <3 Pearl spot is my Dad's and Hubby's favourite fish. It tastes awesome when fried directly in a pan as well as there are a lot of fish bones to deal with :) So it is a sit down and take your time to eat fish :) Thank you! :)

    2. Hi Karen, check this out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_chromide It is also called Green Chromide :)

  5. I'd never heard of Pearl Spot fish, this was new to me, but the spices sound so good. I'll have to see about trying this. I do have some banana plants I can steal some leaves from...


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