Monday, 31 October 2011

Foil-baked pomfret with Indian spices (meen pollichathu)

I didn't mean to stay away from the blog for 2 weeks, but things just got a wee bit crazy over at my end with guests one after the other and then the lethargy and laziness that caught on, leaving me drained and void of energy. I mean I have completely ignored my work for the past 2 weeks, stopped swimming classes and cooking has invariably taken a back seat.

So tomorrow being a new month altogether, I have decided to get my bearings right and get back on track with the whole routine life. September according to me was kept aside for time with friends and relatives, theatre shows and short breaks, loads of eating out and drinking (yes it has started to show, again!!!), and sometimes just doing nothing at all. As much as I enjoyed that phase, I feel much better when I'm swamped with work and under pressure. Its really strange, I know, but it makes a weekend or a mid week break much more enjoyable and worth it. 

So it was after a long time that we enjoyed a quiet weekend at home and strangely I was in the mood to cook, not simple unnerving things, but elaborate dishes that needed a lot of prep and time. Saturday I made a gorgeous Sri Lankan beef roast, which I thought I should take pics and blog but as usual after that long procedure, all I wanted to do was dig into it. A hungry Ro who kept asking, is it done yet? is it done yet? was not helping either. And then for dinner (which is usually leftover stuff or we go out) I made aloo parathas which were not really awesome, but after a movie we were so hungry that they actually tasted decent. 

Came Sunday and there was no stopping. I'd picked up a whole pomfret from the Chinese store nearby and decided to work with it. Well after Ro cleaned it up and did the needful that is. I must say, I have the awesomest husband ever when it comes to things like this. As mentioned before, I'm not a big fish fan and if it has bones, I don't even go near it, leave alone clean it. So if at all I buy fish, I pick up the cleaned fillets from the grocery store and masala-fy it so much, it hardly tastes like fish anymore. This preparation was no different, and if it wasn't for the whole cleaning and dealing with the stench, I would have made it a regular.
I'd taken it out of the freezer to thaw it and when it was about 3/4th thawed Ro cleaned the fins and peeled off the entire skin (which was a great idea) and then we marinated it over night. The fish is wrapped in banana leaves and then roasted, which is the traditional way of doing this preparation. But since I couldn't get hold of banana leaves, I had to make do with the foil. No worries, it still tasted amazing to me, the gravy/masala was the best and the next time I try it, it would be with a fish fillet and loads of gravy. This time, although the gravy had covered the fish well enough, I still preferred some more to quench my craving.

Also, here's a really late Halloween wish coming your way. We didn't do anything exciting, except I made these super cute 'Boo'tatoes which I'm rather proud of :)
Recipe adapted from here and appears in the book Flavours of the Spice Coast by Mrs K. M. Mathew
To marinate
Black Pomfret- 500 gms (any firm fish should be fine-King Fish, Tilapia, River Cobbler, Pearl Spot etc.)
Pepper powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Salt- to taste

For the masala
Coriander powder- 1 tsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Pepper powder- 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek powder- a pinch
Ginger paste- 1/2 tbsp
Garlic paste- 1/2 tbsp
Shallots/ button onions- 1 cup, finely chopped
Garlic cloves- 8 to 10, peeled and roughly chopped
Green chilli- 1, chopped
Tomato paste- 1 tsp
Curry leaves- a sprig
Coconut milk- 1/3rd cup
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Oil- 1 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Clean the fish, and if using a large one with skin on, make gashes on both sides.
Mix together the marinade ingredients and generously rub it on to the fish. Keep aside for at least 1 hour. 
About an hour or so before you start preparation, bring the fish to room temperature.
Make a paste with coriander, chilli, turmeric, pepper and fenugreek powder along with the ginger and garlic paste and keep aside.
Heat about 1/2 tbsp of oil in a large non-stick frying pan, swirl it around and fry the fish till lightly brown on both sides. You don't need to cook the fish, just sear it on both sides, say about a minute or so on each side.
Remove and drain on a paper towel.
Into the remaining oil (or add some more if required) add the shallots, garlic, green chillies and curry leaves and sauté till the onions have wilted a bit. Remove and keep aside.
Add the remaining oil and splutter the mustard seeds.
Keeping heat to low add the previously prepared paste and cook, stirring continuously, till it is no longer raw. It might splutter vigorously, so be careful.
Tip in the cooked onion mix, followed by the tomato paste and salt and mix it all together.
Keep the heat to medium and cook this masala till you start noticing the oil surfacing.
Add the coconut milk at this point, bit by bit and stir it into the masala.
You would get a semi-gravy like consistency and at this point add the fried fish.
Carefully cover the fish with the masala as much as possible on both sides and turn off the heat. 
Leave the fish in the pan as it is, while you get your foil ready.
Preheat the oven to 175C at this point
Place a large sheet of silver foil on a baking tray and layer with some masala from the frying pan.
Carefully place the fish on top and cover with the remaining masala from the pan. Clean it out completely.
Place another large sheet of aluminium foil over the fish and crimp the sides to make a parcel. Make sure you seal the edges well so that no steam can escape.
Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Take it out and check if the fish is done. If it flakes off easily, then you are good to go. Otherwise cook for a further 10 more minutes.
Serve hot with steamed rice.
Notes: This is not a spicy preparation. If you want it spicier, use normal chilli pwd instead of the Kashmiri one.
I marinated the fish over night and so placed it on a plate, covered with a cling film and then refrigerated.
The process might look elaborate, but it really is not that difficult :)


s said...

this looks fantastic. Been looking for a prep like this one since i had it at afriends house. yummmm

MyKitchen Flavors-BonAppetit!. said...

Luv ur Yumm space of awesome recipes.Glad to follow U.

Hamaree Rasoi said...

Delicious looking fish preparation. Simply a class act!

Hamaree Rasoi

Sharmilee! :) said...

Wow looks so good with the flavour of indian spices...

Reflections said...

The fish looks yummilicious.....I thot this kind of preparation was called meen polichathu.

p.s: Ur bootatoes are sho shweet, the guy in front actually has a cute expression on his face;-D

Tina said...

Nishammoooo ingane kothipikkalleeee...beautiful clicks dear..

the Junkie book said...

you've written a to come back here.

divya said...

looks awesome and fabulous...

Suja said...

Drooling here,looks awesome..

Priyanka said...

Awesome recipe and nice technique

Priya said...

Omg, mouthwatering here, wat an irresistible fish.

Krithi's Kitchen said...

This is so awesome!
Krithi's Kitchen
Event: Serve It - Savory Baked

vineetha said...

I m a huge fish fan , especially pomfret and king fish...Nice preparation ! I have seen this recipe in Gordon Ramseys show last year when he visited kerala,would love to give this a try.

Torviewtoronto said...

lovely flavourful presentation fish looks wonderful

aipi said...

That looks like a delicacy so perfectly done!

Sarah said...

what a beauty!!!!

Rinku Naveen said...

Nish meen pollichathu looks so perfect. Crisp and full of flavours. I am gonna try this next time. Have tried 2 versions but not successful. This looks like the one I was looking for. 'Boo'tatoes are so cute. Quite innovative :)

Shema George said...

yummy...mouthwatering !!

Sarah Naveen said...

Bootatoes adipoli Gal!!!
and i recently tried this recipe and it was really good..
Nice pics too

Nitha said...

Looks super delicious... Loved that bootatoes too..

Umm Mymoonah said...

Never tried fish this way, looks really yummy and the Boo tatoes are so cute.

Plateful said...

This's one of my favorite ways to enjoy fish-- so addictive! Your pictures are seriously tempting! Hey Nisha, you have an fb page..?

M D said...

Your pictures are sensational! Loads of spice, surely great with simple meal like curd rice.

Plateful said...

I'm not using my personal fb id, for now. So unless you have a fb page, I'll not be able to connect with you :( Bummer!

the Junkie book said...

i wish you had those banana leaves too. like tht special taste it lends to pothi choru.

it's a spine tingling delicacy and i always like it when it's made for me. it makes me sad that sth prepared with so much effort is gone in mins!

chk out he has a flickr page. everything is good. macro Nature set is more conventional. watch it as slide show. it's mind blowing!

Neelam Hooda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.