It's been several years since I last celebrated Easter with my parents, as I moved to the Gulf, 12 years ago. During my childhood years, Easter had a set menu that my Mother lovingly toiled over. Kerala chicken stew and delicate lace Appams for breakfast. Lunch would be a mixed bag of beef or chicken cutlets, Pulav, Duck Curry and holding its place on the table would be the very regal MEEN POLLICHADU (Gently Spiced whole fish poached in coconut milk ).
This is a slight variant from the tradition one which is more dry.
It's pretty impressive in its looks and the flavours.... now that's the surprising fact. Although in colour its quite mellow, it kicks in a fiery jolt with the fresh green chillies and the creamy texture of the cooked coconut milk steeps in through the tender cooked fish.
My mother learnt this recipe from her grand mother, who excelled in various types of dishes of the Syrio Malabar Community. This dish , is one I dearly cherish and hope my children too can enjoy its decadant flavours in the future.
1 whole fish 1/2 kg (can be a whole black pomfret or a large king fish steak)
1 medium onion sliced thin
1" ginger chopped finely
3 cloves garlic sliced thin
4 green chillies slit
3 springs curry leaves
1-2 cups freshly extracted coconut milk (or canned for convenience)
Masala for the marinade
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Red chilli powder
1 tsp Coriander powder
Salt ,as per your taste
1. Make a paste of the Masala and marinate the fish with this for 10 - 15 minutes. Make sure the fish has a few slits so the masala can steep in.
2. Lightly fry the fish in a table spoon of oil in a large enough fry pan. Once done, place your fried fish on a large casserole. 3. Cover it with the rest of the ingredients and then slow cook it with the lid on. The coconut milk should completely cover the fish.
4. It takes at least an hour for the coconut milk to reduce to a creamy paste consistency. If you are brave enough, try midway during the simmering process to turn the fish around.
5. Extra salt may not be necessary for the coconut milk gravy as it will come through from the fish.
Serve it on a platter garnished with sliced tomatoes and slit green chillies. It goes best with steamed rice.