Where to have Karimeen in Kerala
While it’s available throughout the year, winter is a good time to dig into the famous pearl spot fish of Kerala, locally known as karimeen. It was in fact declared as the official fish of Kerala in 2010 and originally came from the Kuttanad district in Alappuzha.
Often synonymous with karimeen pollichathu, a dish where the fish is wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed, there are many other delicious variations as well. You can enjoy your karimeen fried, simmered in a wonderful coconut gravy or grilled with Southern spices.
If your mouth is watering already, here is a round-up of the best restaurants to have karimeen or green chromide fish in Kerala:
Photo by Shobha Elizabeth John, CC BY-SA 4.0
This humble restaurant in Pallam near Kottayam is something of a legend. The owner sourced all the recipes from his mother and the result is pure perfection. Apart from divine karimeen pollichathu, you can dig into all sorts of seafood here – prawns, crab and lobsters.
Owned by an Ayurvedic degree holder, Hotel Smitha used to be called Vaidyarude Kada, which translates to doctor’s shop. Head to Muhamma in Alappuzha to gorge on the crab and karimeen fry, as well as fish curry with steamed tapioca and clam meat roast.
Pearl Spot, Ramada Cochin
A restaurant that’s named after the pearl spot fish is bound to serve some delectable karimeen, right? Housed in the luxurious Ramada Cochin, you get to enjoy a beautiful view of Lake Vembanad while you dine on kadampanadan karimeen vara and chicken rasam coconut curry.
Grand Hotel Restaurant
The restaurant at Grand Hotel in Ernakulam serves all kinds of authentic local dishes including karimeen polichathu, beef ulattu and a popular ‘fish curry meal’ in a classic ambience. It has many faithful patrons so getting a seat on weekends might be difficult without a wait.
Currymean, Vivanta by Taj
Indulge in style at Currymeen, the seafood restaurant at Vivanta by Taj in Kumarakom. Restaurant specialties include karimeen mappas, Travancore fish curry and prawn mango curry, along with sweet temptations like tender coconut pudding and vattleappam, a Sri Lankan dessert.
Also read: A Kuttanadan Feast
Recipe: Karimeen Pollichathu
Here is a quick recipe for the signature speciality karimeen pollichathu:
1. Clean the karimeen thoroughly and make a slit for filling in the masala paste.
2. For the masala paste, roast chopped shallots, ginger, garlic, red chillies, turmeric powder, green chillies and curry leaves. Add salt and lime juice and pound into a coarse paste.
3. Coat the fish in the paste and stuff it inside as well.
4. Wrap the karimeen in a banana leaf and use the stem to tie it.
5. Pour some oil on a pan and cook the fish on both sides in it.
6. Serve with steamed rice or roti.