<< Kerala Cuisine

Ernakulam is known for offering visitors a variety of sea food specialities at most of its restaurants. Seafood is cooked in many methods using coconut milk, wrapping the fish in a banana leaf or simply frying the fish with lots of spices.There is a special clay pot used for cooking fish or prawn curries in the authentic Kerala style. It is called Meen Chatti and a minimum of 2 pots are found in every fish eating household.

A Chatti is an eathernware round pot with a curvy base, usually red or black in color. A new chatti has to be treated before it can be used. It is held over a hot stove for sometime then filled with hot starch water for days before it can be used for cooking.

A fruit “Gambooge” is used for preparing fish curries. It is called Koddum Puli in the native language Malayalam. It is basically added for flavour and to give a sour taste to the fish curries. Koddum Pulli is a fruit which is yellowish in color. It is dried in the hot sun till it turns black and then used for cooking. It is either shredded into small pieces or used as a whole piece and soaked in a bowl of warm water, to be squeezed and the essence collected before using it in the curry.

Coconut milk is used , though as an optional item. You do not need this for a simple fish or prawn curry. However, there are some dishes you need to use coconut milk for. Coconut milk is extracted from fresh coconuts. The coconut is first broken into two equal halves which are then grated into shreds.The shreds are then squeezed to extract the milk. Coconut milk is again separated into 2 kinds. The thick milk and the thin milk. The thin milk is added first and then the thick milk is added, just towards the end of cooking so that it does not curdle.

Spices are an essential ingredient for sea food recipes. The main spices required for seafood preparation are turmeric, black peppercorns, coriander powder, rock salt, red chilli powder, fenugreek powder and ginger-garlic paste.

Shallots, curry leaves and green chillies are also used for marination paste and to thicken the gravy for sea food items. Shallots are tiny reddish onions, smaller than the normal onion and extensively used in Kerala non vegetarian cooking for garnishing.

For more on Ernakulam cuisine, click kerala recipes

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