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Karimeen Pollichathu/ Kerala Pearl Spot Fish Fry

Karimeen Pollichathu or Pearl spot fish fry is one of the authentic dish of Kerala. It is a sort of grilled fish in a spicy and tangy gravy. This seems to be the most famous dish among the tourists who visits Kerala especially if you go to regions like Alleppey. This fish delicacy is among the fabulous food served in houseboats as you take a ride enjoying the beauty of Kerala backwaters. Pollichathu means burnt fish. This fish is wrapped in banana leaf and grilled. Different regions have different versions.There is yet another method of steaming the fish. I used the tawa instead. The gravy should be a bit tangy and you may use either kokum, tamarind or tomatoes.  You will surely love this fish fry.

Marinating and frying

Pearl Spot fish- 2
Chilly powder- 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/3 tsp
Pepper powder- 1/3 tsp
Lemon juice- 1 tsp
Salt- to taste
oil to fry

For the masala gravy
Shallots chopped- 1 cup
Tomatoes - 2 medium
Green chilly - 2
Curry leaves chopped- 2 springs
Ginger- garlic paste- 2-3 tsp
Chilly powder- 1/2 tsp
coriander powder- 1 tsp
Fenugreek powder- 1/3 tsp
Fennel powder- 1/3 tsp
Thick coconut milk- 3 tbs
lemon juice - a few drops
(or tamarind pulp- 1 tsp)
salt to taste
oil for frying

Banana leaf for wrapping..I used the frozen one:)

Cut and clean the fish and make diagonal slits on them. Make a paste with chilly powder, turmeric powder, pepper powder, salt and lemon juice and marinate the fish and keep aside for ten minutes. Fry it till half done and keep aside.

In order to prepare the masala heat oil in a pan and saute green chilly, ginger garlic paste, curry leaves till its raw flavor disappears. Add shallots and saute till golden brown. Make a paste of chilly powder, coriander paste, fenugreek and fennel powder with a little water and saute it with onions till oil separates. Now add tomatoes and cook till it becomes soft. Mix in thick coconut milk. If you like it more tangy add in tamarind paste or one tsp of lemon juice. Place a layer of this masala on banana leaf and place the fish over and spread a second layer. Carefully wrap the leaf and tie it. Place it on a hot grill or tawa and grill both sides , you may cover it if you desire till a nice aroma comes.

Try this...

Hope you will all enjoy..


  1. Suja mine was roasted fish not fried. Nice clicks :)

  2. superb recipe...looks so beautiful

  3. wow Suja, hats off to you, even on tawa you got the perfect lloking pollichathu. NJ kittumo karimeen oke, kollalo..

    Kairali sisters

  4. suja really delicious one da..perfectly policha this fish is available there in ur place thats good.. i do it with avoli..
    anyway super one suja

  5. Thanks Sanyukta, Rach,Krishnaveni and Suman for the sweet comments.
    Thanks kairali sisters and prani..this fish is available here..oru malayali shop undu ivede:)

  6. oh ok Suja, Not an issue at all Dear :)

  7. Hey Suja thats a yummy one dear...really that was so colorfula nd bright making me good da...i hope i get this fish here too in our place...hope to prep it soon...

  8. Woww Suja, am drooling rite now here, wat a fabulous fry..cant take my eyes from the click..

  9. wow!! Fantastic karimeen polliachathu..Kandittu kothi sahikkan pattunillee..Evide Asian storesil aavoli kittum pakshe karimeen kazhikanengil naattil pokanam :(

  10. wow..lucky get karimeen in NJ :(

  11. wow.....wonderful and delisious...kandittu sahikkunilla keto...onnu kittyirunnankill kazhikkam ayirunnu....

  12. Suja, this dish looks simply great and tempting.

  13. I am drooling now. Superb pics Suja. I have no words to appreciate you. I wish I live nearby you :)

  14. ente Fav..athey ila evidunnu kitti??????
    looks mouthwatering ...

  15. wow adipoli kure nal ayi karimeen kazhichittu evide kittarilla. nattil chennale kittu. pinne nice presentaion

  16. Looks very tempting and mouthwatering Suja, Do you get banana leaf in US, wow! great.

  17. Thanks all for the sweet comments.
    Sarah I got illa in the frozen food section in our grocery store..also saw this in frozen food section in Asian Market:)

  18. Yum! I could eat the whole thing.

  19. first time here... OMG luks mouthwatering.. very tempting..... i love fish... really gr8t recipe.. happy to follow ur blog

  20. wow suja looks mouthwatering...and thanks so much for asking abt my health, now am feeling better...

  21. Thanks Jagruthi, Nostalgia, Guna and Sushma:)

  22. Your fish pollichathu makes me to try right away.Beautiful presentation.

  23. Suja I am loving this,the fish is absolutely as aunthetic as any food can get....and the description oooh Kerela,House boat...this is driving me crazy I can't stand it anylonger. You are one amazing cook !!! I can already tell that,keep it up :)!!!

  24. karimeenpollichathu adipolli....

  25. Suja, loved your recipe and the way you shared it.. I am living in NJ.. Could you tell me the shop where I can buy the Karimeen and the ila? - Fasila

  26. Thanks Fasila for stopping by,happy to know that you like my recipe..
    You can find Karimeen and ila in two shops in Edison. One is Surabhi Indian grocery- I believe it is in Talmadge road Edison) and second is an Indian store in Stelton Road, Piscataway. It is between two Indian resturants, Suksagar and Tawa. Ila will be in the freezer section..I am sure you will find it in any of these shops :)

  27. hai this is my 1 st visit ur blog.very happy to have found ur blog....u have so many gr8 recipes and most of the dishes are my personal fav.... is my blog.drop by when you get time..
    thanks in advance

  28. Can you please let me know where you buy your fresh mackerel in N.J? Asian food markets?

    1. Hi Anon,thanks for stopping by..
      Yaa when I was in NJ I used to buy from Asian market Centennial Ave, there is a walmart near by. mackeral is not available not there every time,but they do have lot of fish..hope you will find it there:)

    2. Hi Suja,
      Do you get the fresh Karimeen or Mackerel at these stores? I live in CT and Patel here sells both fish but frozen.

    3. Hi Priya,thanks for stopping by.
      No Priya,never seen fresh Karimeen in NJ or here in OH,only the frozen ones.I tried this recipe with the frozen Karimeen :)

  29. I tried this recipe and it came out wonderfully well. I avoided coconut milk. Since I couldn't find toothpicks or anything to tie the banana leaf, I wrapped it on aluminium foil and baked it in the microwave. It came out wonderfully well, even better than what some of the Kerala restaurants in Dubai serve. Now I am confident of serving it to my friends. Thanks for the recipe.


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