SIGNIFICANCE OF KARIMEENKarimeen is the green chromide fish (Etroplus suratensis) which is a species belonging to cichlid fish from freshwater and back waters in southern India and Sri Lanka. It is known by different names in different languages - Pearl spot in English, karimeen in Malayalam, koral in Bengali, kundal in Oriya and Kalundar in Konkani. The karimeen or the green chromide is the ideal fish for pisciculture. The green chromide is seen in more population in Kerala especially in the back waters around Alleppey (Alappuzha), Kottayam, Quilon (Kollam), and in western flowing rivers in Karnataka, backwaters of Andhra Pradesh and Chilika Lake. They mainly live on food like algae, plant material and insects. The people of Kerala fondly refer this fish as Karimeen. This is a lip smacking delicacy for not only for the local people but also in the neighboring states.
VARIOUS DISHES CAN BE PREPARED WITH THE KARIMEENVarious dishes can be prepared with the karimeen and some of the prominent dishes include Karemeen Fry, Karemeen Molly and Karemeen Pollichathu. The fishes are slightly on the expensive side and are very much available throughout the year. There is no particular season for it. The green chromide fishes are mainly trapped by using gillnets. Karimeen enjoys the pride to be the official fish of the Kerala state which was declared by the state Government in the year 2010. In fact the year 2010-'11 was observed as 'The Year of the Karimeen" which is mainly to boost the production of this particular variety namely Etroplus suratensis. It commonly reaches 20 centimeters (7.9 in) in length, and the maximum length is twice that of a normal fish .Karimeen pollichathu is one among the star food of Kerala and is also known as pearl spot because of its appearance and its unique way of cooking makes it to stand apart in its preparation.
KUTTANAD REGION IN ALAPPUZHA DISTRICT - THE HOME OF THIS FISHThe green chromide mainly dwells in the bottom portion of both the fresh and brackish water of the entire area of Kerala. This is one of the most preferred delicacies which top the menu list in almost all the hotels in Kerala and extrememly popular among both the local people and the tourists and travellers coming to this area. The Kuttanad region in Alappuzha district is considered the home of this fish species. The karimeen pollichathu is a very common recipe made for the people who mainly go into water for camping and also for the dwellers of the house boats for the fish is directly procured from the people who trap it using gillnets and then cooked. Though it is quite a common fish in the freshwater and backwaters of Kerala, it is placed very high in pricing and hence it is not easily reached by the ordinary people.
THE BEST DELICACY IS THE KARIMEEN POLLICAHTHU
The karimeen is cooked in different styles like it is fried, cooked in spicy and tangy coconut gravy or slowly grilled in charcoal with spices.
But however the best delicacy is the karimeen pollicahthu which includes sauting with masala and cooked in coconut milk in a very medium fame wrapped in plantain leaves.
The annual production of Karimeen in Kerala in a year is about 2,000 tonnes but however the Government is putting much more efforts to increase the production to about 5,000 tones in a year bringing laurels and precious foreign exchange in the process.The karimeen pollichathu invented in Kerala is a very common and spicy recipe in India.
MAIN INGREDIENTS REQUIRED IN THE PREPARATION OF KARIMEEN POLLICHATHUThe main ingredients required in the preparation of Karimeen pollichathu are pear spot fish, curry leaves, cooking oil, chili powder, grated coconut, black pepper, turmeric powder, coriander powder, green chilies, ginger garlic paste and of course salt. The fish is cleaned properly where the scales are removed thoroughly and then diagonal slits are made on both the sides with the help of a sharp knife. Usually the tail fin is left behind instead of being chopped so that it aids in holding the fin while eating. Now the masala to be coated on the fish is prepared where the chilli, turmeric, coriander powder along with the coconut and black pepper is roasted well in a pan.
FISH BEING WRAPPED IN A BANANA LEAF
When roasting water or oil should not be added and over roasting is not to be done for it changes the taste. Now the masala pale brown in color is ready and is allowed to cool. Once it is cooled it is mixed well with ginger garlic paste, green chilies and drops of water, vinegar and salt to taste. This gives a fine paste.
Now oil is heated in a pan and the fish is placed in it being wrapped in a banana leaf and tied with a string. It is fried and cooked well on both the sides.
The preparation is ready and is then garnished according to taste and various method of garnishing is followed in different places.
The karimeen pollichathu goes well with rice, roti, or even with bread. Usually it is garnished with onion, lemon slices, cucumber and curry leaves.