Pearl Spot – Karimeen fry is a sought after delicacy in Kerala. The pearl spot fish is marinated in a mixture of lemon juice, red chillies, other ingredients and deep fried until crisp and golden brown. This recipe is an exotic dish of Karimeen fry cooked in Kerala style. The Karimeen fry is a spicy fried fish coated with zesty masala. Karimeen is one of the most important fish species in Kerala state and is also the state fish of Kerala.

Karimeen which is also known as Pearl Spot fish or Green chromide is a freshwater fish found in southern India, especially in back waters of Kerala. It’s a species of Cichild family and Etroplus genus. This fish is locally known as Karimeen in Malayalam. Karimeen was officially announced as the state fish of Kerala in the year 2010. It is the most influential fish in the lifestyle of Kerala. Karimeen has the power to tingle our taste buds and you would surely crave for more. A boat ride in the backwaters while relishing the Karimeen fry or Karimeen pollichadhu is an integral part of an average tourist’s Kerala experience. It is too hot a delicacy and one of the most expensive fish in Kerala.

Karimeen is cooked in various ways with varying flavours to attract the tourist and promote their culinary arts. Karimeen fry is a delicacy in most of the houseboats and is prized high for its flavours, taste and nutritive values. These varieties of fishes have the special ability to live equally in both pure and saline waters. They are mainly found in rivers, ponds, farm fields, canals and estuaries. Karnataka and Orissa are the other major states where karimeen is found in India. The Kuttanad region in Alappuzha district is considered the home of this fish species.

Karimeen have an elliptical black body with shiny white diamond like spots all over the body. It is this physical appearance which gave fish the name 'pearl spot' or 'Karimeen'. Even though the word 'kari' point to a dark black colour the fish has a mixed combination of green and black on its body. Dark black strips (usually 8 in number) are found from head to tail. A fully grown Karimeen have about 40 cm length and about one and half kilograms of weight.

Karimeen fry is one of the authentic dishes of Kerala.  It more or else looks like a grilled fish in spicy and tangy gravy. This dish is a very popular dish among the tourists in Kerala especially in Alleppey regions. Karimeen is also cooked wrapped in banana leaf with spices and grilled. This is popularly known as Karimeen pollichathu. Pollichathu means burnt fish.

Karimeen is cooked in various styles like fried, cooked in spicy and tangy coconut gravy or slowly grilled in charcoal with spices. Pearl spot is extremely a tasty fish hence very pricy as well and sometimes beyond the reach of ordinary people. The signature dish of Kerala could well be the  delicacy, ‘Karimeen Pollichathu”, fish  sauteed with masala and cooked over low fire in coconut milk, wrapped in plantain leaves. This seems to be the most famous dish among the tourists who visits Kerala especially if you go to regions like Alleppey. This fish delicacy is among the fabulous food served in houseboats as you take a ride enjoying the beauty of Kerala backwaters. Different regions have different versions. The popular dishes made using Karmeen are "Karimeen fry", "Karimeen Pollichathu" and " Karimeen Mappas" and the toddy shops and house boats are famous for serving these dishes.

To prepare this exotic, delicious and divine dish of Kerala, firstly wash fish and slit on both side and stomach (as shown in the video). Now take a bowl and add red chilli powder, salt, turmeric, ginger garlic paste, coriander powder, lime juice and mix well. Divide into two parts.

In one part for pan frying, add coriander leaves, curry leaves finely chopped and maida to the spice mix and mix well. Apply this paste to the fish on both sides, into the cuts, stomach and keep aside for 15-30 minutes and then pan fry by adding oil till golden in colour.

For other part – for deep frying, add cornflour to the spice mix, mix well and apply to the fish well coated on both side and rest for 15-30 mins and deep fry the fish till golden in colour.

Any variation of Fish fry is an essential item on the menu anywhere in Kerala. It’s simply that the fish varies, the marinade varies but a noon meal is not a meal without a fish fry. A simple meal of Keralite for those who love fish can consist of rice, pulisseri, a couple of fried fish pieces and some pappadams to compliment. This is a simple comfort food. How can we ever forget the dishes exceptional and delicious of this land of Kerala, especially well known for coconuts, fish moilee, puttu, idiyappam, egg roast and kadala curry.

Karimeen is a highly nutritive food along with a good amount of meat Karimeen also includes fat, phosphorus, calcium, ash, iron and water. The fish is acknowledged for high nutritional value, rich aroma, longer shelf life, delicious taste and cost-effectiveness.

You must try this dish. Yeah! It will surely give you the feeling of staying at the backwaters along side with coconut trees and the nice smell of the water all around you. Go ahead and try this recipe. You’ll surely enjoy the flavours and taste. Check out the video on making of this dish or click the link:

Enjoy Cooking!