Saturday, 21 February 2015

Baked fish parcels | Meen pollichathu | Kukskitchen

Baked fish parcels  |   Meen pollichathu  |  Kukskitchen

Baked fish is superb as a fish course when you are having a party. They look impressive and taste amazing. I like using salmon due to its texture and lack of tiny bones. The parcels are traditionally made using plantain leaves and cooked in charcoal. The plantain leaves impart a gorgeous flavour to your fish. One of the best meen pollichathu I've had are from my SIL Renju's house. I remember her each time I make these.

I served this on our UK girls 98 get together and it was an instant hit, even if I do say so myself ;).

A few things before we start:
  • Choice of fish - Traditionally made using Pomfret or Pearl spot. But any firm fish would do like King Fish, Tilapia, River Cobbler, Salmon, Hake. I make them with boneless fillets of fleshy fish as it is easy to eat.
  • To make it spicier add red chilli powder instead of kashmiri chilli powder. You can add some slit green chillies too. 
  • Best made in a plantain leaf. When you do so, first make your leaves soft and pliable using dry heat from flames in your hob. Show your leaves on top of the flames till they change colour from light green to dark green. Make sure to not burn your leaves.
  • For us unfortunate souls who can not get hold of a plantain leaf, use aluminium foil or baking paper. If using baking paper, cut large squares out of it, place the sauce, fish then sauce and then fold your paper to form a parcel, like pothichoru, and tie with kitchen string to secure. 
  • If you don't possess a baking oven, you can cook in a pan, ദോശ കല്ല് , (smear with oil if using plantain leaf) over low flame. 


Baked fish
മീൻ പൊള്ളിച്ചത് 

1- Fish- 500 gms

2- Pepper powder- 1 tsp
   Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
   Salt- to taste

3- Pearl onions or shallots - 1 cup, finely chopped
    Garlic cloves- 8 to 10, peeled and roughly chopped
    Green chilli- 1, chopped
    Curry leaves- a sprig

4- Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp

5- 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

6- Tomato paste- 1 tsp

7- Coconut milk- 1/3rd cup

8- Oil- 1 tbsp
    Salt- to taste

9- Sliced onion and tomato for garnish.


  • Make slits on either side of your fish. Avoid this step if using boneless, skinless fleshy fish.
  • Mix (2) and rub it on to the fish. Keep aside for as long as you can.
  • Heat a large non-stick frying pan and use four sprays of any cooking oil about 1 tbsp, swirl the pan to get it evenly coated with oil and place the fish fillets skin side down.Fry the fish till lightly brown on both sides. Remember you are going to bake this later.
  • Remove and drain on kitchen towel.
  • Into the remaining oil  add (3) and sauté till the onions become translucent, do not let them brown. Remove and keep aside.
  • In the remaining oil splutter mustard seeds. Make a paste with (5).Keeping heat at low, add the prepared paste and cook, stirring continuously, till the smell of spices hit your nose. Do not let burn.
  • Add the cooked onion mix, followed by the tomato paste and salt. Keep the heat to medium and cook till oil separates.
  • Add the coconut milk at this point, a tsp at a time and stir to combine and turn off the heat. Your sauce is ready. 
Baked fish parcels  |   Meen pollichathu  |  Kukskitchen

Assemble, bake and serve:
  • Cut large squares out of aluminium foil, size depends on the size of your fish fillets. Smear a tsp of the sauce in the middle of your square, place one fish fried fish on top and spoon another tsp of sauce on top. Do not worry about the quantity of sauce. When baked the fish will ooze our water and the consistency of the sauce turns right. Now lift all four sides of the foil, bring them together at the centre and crimp to make a parcel. You can leave this to rest and the flavours to combine in the fridge till ready to bake. 
Baked fish parcels  |   Meen pollichathu  |  Kukskitchen

  • When ready to bake , preheat the oven to 180C fan. Bake for 20 minutes. Take it out and check if the fish is done. If it flakes off easily, then you are good to go. Or else, cook for a further 10 minutes.
  • Serve garnished with one slice of onion and one slice of tomato each.

Baked fish parcels  |   Meen pollichathu  |  Kukskitchen

Adapted from: Flavours of the Spice Coast by Mrs K. M. Mathew

Also check out an easier version which my mum makes.

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Thank you xx

Sherin Deepu


  1. WOW, that looks good. Very very good. Yummm!

    1. Dear Minnie

      Thank you dear for your kind words.


  2. love this anytime... one dish I always order when we go to a Kerala restaurant... if baked in banana leaf, gives more taste but yeah, it is difficult to get fresh ones...

    1. Dear Rafeeda,

      You absolutely right. In a banana leave this preparation attains unimaginable heights. Unfortunately for me the poor soul, fresh banana leaves are a luxury, seen in South Indian/ Srilankan shops only during Onam season.

      Baking paper or aluminium foil like I have used here are not so bad alternatives.

      So happy to hear you order this old village dish from restaurants. Imagine eating them in a house boat around sunset in the backwaters of Alappuzha or Kumarakam :)



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