Travelogue - Dinner in the Backwaters of kerala
FROM THE BACK WATERS
It had an opportunity to attend a Keralean wedding party in a small town near Ernakulam . My friend Srinivasan invited me to his wedding reception party. Keralean cuisine is dominated by coconut,masala,pickle etc. Keralean cuisine is typical. Five of our friends,all of us batch mates at Hotel Management Institute Taratala, went together to attend Srinivasan’s wedding reception party. Srinivasan had hired cooks from Vembanada.
On the morning of the reception day all the produce arrived at the pandal on a native craft hired by Srinivasan. The craft was piled high with fruits & vegetables from the nearby market. All ingredients were fresh. Fish came from the lagoon of Vemban & included exotic cray fish. Paddy , poultry were procured from the villagers. Srinivasan told us that no food colouring was used ,oil reduced while cooking & he decided to keep the service crisp but informal.we really wanted to taste the local Karimeen fish,different types of Appams & Dossas. Pickles were made of lime, beetroot & from tender mango & a truly local speciality called Ingipulli made from ginger,tamarind & jaggery. The cook’s helper proceeded to lay out the neatly stacked banana leaves.
This lends much to the service & food presentation & further imparts a unique flavour to anything wrapped or cooked in it. The emphasis is given on regional heritage food,cooked & served in locally made vessels. The head cook produced a Karimeen fish from the lagoon. A bit of masala & he popped it on the grill just long enough to tantalize our taste bud & cook the incredibly light fish to perfection.
You really need little else when the food is so fresh. A generous serving of rice compliments the masala. Even the rice is freshly pounded the previous day. Rice plays a big role in kerala cuisine –not only as rice ,but also as a flour base for endless Iddli dough & as crisping agents in frying fish & vegetables.
Many creative mocktails were served prepared with mango,sweet lime, & endless supply of fresh tender coconut water & butter milk.
• MEEN POLLICHATHU
KARIMEEN FISH ------- 500 gms
SMALL ONIONS --------- 100 gms
GINGER --------- 2.5 cms
GARLIC --------- 1 pod
TURMERIC ----- 5 gms
RED CHILLIES --------- 6 to 7 pieces
SALT -------- TO TASTE
CURRY LEAVES ------- A FEW
REFINED OIL ------ 100 gms
VINEGAR ---- TO TASTE
Clean fish. Make gashes as for grilling. Heat oil, fry spices. Remove & apply well on fish, stuffing belly etc.in another pan ( a strong bottomed fry pan preferably coper based ) add a little oil. Line bottomwith banana leaves. Spread prepared fish. Cover with curry leaves,vinegar & more banana leaves. Place lid over.cook over very slow fire for 15 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.