I had an amazingly tasty preparation of Pomfret fish during our Kerala trip in September- October this year; the famous Kerala style Pomfret Fry. When I have ordered this dish in Kochi for the first time I was expecting a normal fried Pomfret but after having it I realized the difference between a normal fried fish and shallow fried whole Pomfret flavoured with Kerala spices!
Fresh Pomfret fish coated with perfect blend of spices and shallow fried; completely different from how we bongs have it. Starting then I had this preparation of Fish (sometimes with Korimean fish and sometimes with Pomfret fish) all through the trip. I finally able to see the process of making Kerala style Pomfret fry during our stay at the Kumarakom Houseboat.
We have booked houseboat for a whole day and night and cherished every moment of our stay there with scenic beauty and with some good food prepared by the local chefs in the houseboat itself. We purchased fresh fish and requested cooks to serve those after shallow frying followed by the Keralan way of cooking. I specially requested them to share their recipe of making Kerala Style Pomfret fry and the main chef willingly shared his recipe of Kerala style Pomfret fry. He told me that they use similar spices while making this preparation for both the fishes i.e. Pomfret and Korimean.
Coming to the recipe, they used some very basic spices to marinade whole Pomfret fishes before frying. In fact, he shared that it is better to marinate fish for more than 8 hours for more flavor and in addition, shallow frying is the main characteristic of Kerala Fish Fry. He was asking me to guess the ingredients used in his fish fry and I was able to recognize Onion, garlic, ginger, chili powder, pepper powder, lemon juice and curry leaves. I was not able to recognize two ingredients: All-Purpose Flour and Tamarind Paste which were used in the batter.
Jacob told me that they mostly used a local fruit as a souring agent at home which is known as Kudumpuli Neeru but they use Tamarind instead of it while making for the guests of the houseboat to match with their taste. I completely followed his recipe while making Kerala style Pomfret fry back home and it was a successful attempt; taste was similar that we had in Kerala!
- Whole Pomfret Fish: 6 (medium size)
- Onion Paste: 2 Tsp.
- Ginger paste: ½ Tsp.
- Garlic Paste: 1 Tsp.
- Lemon Juice: 2 Tbsp.
- Tamarind Paste: 1 Tbsp.
- Curry Leaves: 10-12
- All Purpose Flour: 1 Tbsp.
- Turmeric Powder: 1 Tsp.
- Red Chili Powder: ½ Tsp.
- Black Pepper Powder: ½ Tsp.
- Salt: 1 Tsp.
- Refined Oil for Frying: 3 Tbsp.
- Wash all the fishes thoroughly and clean from inside by giving a cut near the neck portion. My fish vendor helped me with the process of cleaning the fish from inside.
- Marinade the fish before frying with the mixture of the spices and leave for at least 1 hour.
- Take each fish and make horizontal slit by giving a gap of 1” as shown in the picture using a sharp knife.
- Take Onion Paste, Ginger paste, Garlic Paste, Lemon Juice, Tamarind Paste, Turmeric Powder, Red Chili Powder, Black Pepper Powder, Salt, All Purpose Flour and chopped Curry leaves and make a thick paste.
- Rub this paste to the fishes and fill the slits with this mixture as well.
- Take marinated fishes in a plate and cover with a cling film and then refrigerate for around 8 hours. This step is optional but more time is equal to more added flavor to fishes.
- Take fishes out of the refrigerator just before frying.
- Now take a non-stick pan or Tawa and heat Oil on it and start shallow frying Pomfret fishes in medium flame.
- Fry from one side for around 8-10 minutes or till that side is done completely and turned golden brown in color. You can cover the pan with a lid after 5 minutes.
- Flip the fish and they fry from the other side for 8-10 more minutes.
- Take fried fishes out of the pan and serve hot with your choice of Salad.
Instead of shallow frying you can opt for Deep frying as well.
Marination time can be shortened based on the requirement, however, 8 hours or so is ideal for adding perfect flavor.
Refined oil can be substituted with Coconut Oil.
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