Kerala Meen Pollichathu

Fish Recipes

product thumb

Banana leaves insulate sea bass fillets, keeping them moist while they roast in an aromatic masala fortified with fenugreek seeds, turmeric, and coriander.

Cooking Ingredients


    • 1/4 cup liquid coconut oil
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon red chile powder (such as Deep)
    • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
    • 1/2 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste (such as Taj Gourmet Foods) (see Note)
    • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 4 (6-ounce) skinless sea bass fillets


    • 2 tablespoons liquid coconut oil
    • 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
    • 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
    • 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
    • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced shallots
    • 2 fresh green Thai chiles, thinly sliced (about 1 tablespoon)
    • 1 (8-inch) curry leaf sprig
    • 1 teaspoon red chile powder (such as Deep)
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1/4 cup chopped tomato
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk, well shaken and stirred
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

    Additional Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup liquid coconut oil, divided
    • 4 (11- x 8-inch) banana leaf pieces
    • Lemon wedges, for serving

Cooking Direction

    Marinate the fish

    1. Whisk together coconut oil, lemon juice, chile powder, coriander, ginger-garlic paste, salt, pepper, and turmeric in a large bowl. Add fish, and turn to fully coat. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

    Meanwhile, make the masala

    1. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium. Add mustard seeds; cook, shaking pan often, until seeds have slowed popping, 2 to 3 minutes. Add fenugreek seeds; cook, shaking pan constantly, until seeds begin to turn golden brown, about 1 minute. Add ginger and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and just turning golden brown, about 1 minute. Add shallots, chiles, and curry leaf sprig; cook, stirring often, until shallots have softened and turned golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard curry sprig.

    2. Reduce heat to low, and add red chile powder, coriander, and turmeric to mixture in skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

    3. Stir chopped tomato into mixture in skillet; cover and cook, undisturbed, until tomato has completely softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and stir in coconut milk and salt. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until masala is thickened and slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool 30 minutes.

    4. Meanwhile, transfer fish from marinade to a large plate, and pat dry. Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add fish, and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes. Remove fish from skillet, and set aside.

    5. Place 1 banana leaf piece on a work surface, shiny side down. Spread a thin layer of masala (about 2 tablespoons) lengthwise down middle of each leaf, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border on both sides; top with 1 fish fillet. Spoon 2 tablespoons masala over fish. Fold long sides of banana leaf over fish, and bring short sides over to form a packet. Secure with wooden picks, or tie with kitchen twine to seal. Repeat process with remaining banana leaves, masala, and fish fillets.

    6. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over low. Add remaining 2 tablespoons coconut oil to skillet. Place fish packets in skillet, and cook until a digital thermometer inserted in center of fish registers 145°F, 5 to 7 minutes, flipping once halfway through cook time. Transfer fish packets to plates; open packets, and serve immediately with lemon wedges.