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Kerala style Grilled LeatherJacket in Banana Leaf Recipe

12661798_800642703397261_2440407486528638578_nThe famous Meen Pollichathu (fish smoked in banana leaf) of Kerala gets a makeover. This one is more refreshing, light and low in calories.

This fish gets its name from the slight thicker and leathery skin; but with delicious flesh beneath. Being a robust fish, it can take on layers of flavour which makes it apt for this recipe. Leatherjacket is best grilled or pan fried with spices and aromatics. To use in curries, remove skin and use the fillets.

1. 3 whole leatherjacket (any other type of fish can be used)
2. Wet marinade:
• 3 cloves garlic
• 1 inch ginger
• ½ tsp turmeric powder
• 2 tsp red chilli powder (vary to taste preferences)
• 1 tsp black pepper powder
• Juice of 1 lemon
• Salt, to season
3. To coat the fish:
• 3 green chilli, finely chopped
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 1 tomato, deseeded and finely chopped
• 3 shallots, finely chopped
• 4 tbsp fresh grated coconut
• 3 tbsp fresh coconut milk
• Juice of half a lemon
• Salt, to season
4. Vegetable oil, to shallow fry the fish
5. Lemon wedges, for serving
6. 3 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped

1. Grind all the ingredients under wet marinade to form a paste (add water only if necessary); rub this thoroughly over the fish and leave for at least 4 hours.
2. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients required to coat the fish and keep aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan forced).
4. Shallow fry the fish in vegetable oil till half done and keep aside.
5. Take clean plantain leaves and warm it lightly over the flame (this is done to soften the leaves which helps to hold shape while folding the fish or else, the leaves will begin to tear; make sure you do not burn the leaves).
6. Place one half of the above mixture on one side of the leaf, place the fish on top and spoon the remaining mixture over the fish. Wrap tightly into a bundle and hold in place either with toothpicks or using strings.
7. Grill in the oven for about 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of the fish), turning sides once in between. Alternately, use a stovetop grill or pan on low heat to cook the fish. You could also steam the fish using a steamer.
8. Cut open the banana leaves and garnish with coriander leaves and a wedge of lime. Serve hot with a fresh garden salad on the side.

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