Karimeen Pollichathu (Pearl Spot Fish Fry)

Karimeen Pollichathu is one of Kerala’s traditional delicacies. Karimeen or Pearl spot fish is found very common in Kerala backwaters. All through Kerala, you will get this dish but with varying flavour.. The taste and preparation of Karimeen Pollichathu changes slightly as we go from one end of Kerala to the other!
This is traditionally a Syrian Christian delicacy but soon became part of Kerala’s rich cuisine. Your Kerala holidays will never be complete without enjoying this…


Karimeen (Pearl Spot Fish) : 200g
Ginger:                                       1 Inch piece of ginger
Garlic:                                        6 to 7 cloves
Onion (chopped):                    1  or 2 depending on size
Curry leaves :                           2 Sprigs
Chilly Powder:                         2 Tsp
Turmeric Powder:                  1 Tsp
Coriander Powder:                 2 Tsp
Lime Juice:                              1 Tbsp
Salt:                                           To taste
Coconut Oil :                           25 ml
Banana leaf

For marination:

1 teaspoon pepper powder
2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lime juice

Method of Preparation

First clean the fish thoroughly and using a knife make 3-4 gashes on each side of the fish.   Make a paste of all the ingredients for marination. Marinate the fishes using that. Keep it aside for one hour.

Heat coconut oil in a frying pan and add finely chopped onions. Once they start turning brown, add crushed ginger and garlic. Then add chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder and saute well. Add lime juice and salt as per your taste. Keep it on simmer till you see oil clear up on the surface of the gravy. Turn the stove off and let it cool.

Take a banana leaf and place a fish and a sprig of curry leaf on it. Then pour some gravy over the fish. Smear the gravy well on both sides of the fish. Cover and seal the sides of the banana leaf. Grill both sides evenly in hot tawa or electric grill. Serve hot with salad and a piece of lime!
A note of caution though..this dish is little spicy!


  1. return man 2 on November 27, 2012 at 6:36 am

    I like this post 🙂

  2. moncler doudounes on November 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Excellent post. Thanks.

  3. ganga on January 4, 2013 at 8:32 am

    karimeen pollichathu has no syrian christian orgins- thanks for sharing.

    • Sunu Philip on January 14, 2013 at 7:35 am

      Thank you for clarifying. I will dig in deeper to find the right facts…!

  4. AK on June 17, 2013 at 5:52 am

    How do we cook this dish without a banana leaf. I have never tried using a foil on tawa. Please let me know if we can cook with foil without the foil getting burnt?

    • Sunu Philip on June 24, 2013 at 3:04 am

      I have also not tried this preparation in a foil. But one can always experiment. So if you ever come around to experiment this with a foil, please share your results here. Maybe it will have a different flavor!

  5. meera on October 23, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    hi ,
    the recipe has been very useful i actually had to ask a favor.the thing is we are making a wikipedia page on karimeen pollichathu in mlayalam and we needed a picture to use for it. the icture above is brilliant and i wanted to ask your permission for using it and query for any copyright issues.

    • Sunu Philip on October 24, 2013 at 4:23 am

      Thank you Meera. That image is part of Paradise content and I am not in a position to give away the rights. I am sorry.

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