Meen Peera is a popular dish belonging to the Christian households of Central Kerala. As any fish dish, I have grown up savouring meen peera right from my childhood days and still one among the favourites!
Traditionally meen peera is made with Netholi or anchovies but any small fish should serve fine too.
The combined flavour of cooked fish with the coarse coconut in which the juices of chilles, 'kudampuli', coconut oil and curry leaves all melded in becomes irrestitible to any fish lover in the state!
Fish-(anchovies is used here) - 1/2 kg , cleaned
Kudampuli (kokum) - 3 to 4 pieces
Coconut oil - 2 tbsp
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Salt to taste
To Grind Coarsely
Freshly grated coconut - 1 to 1 1/2 cups
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Green chillies - 7 or 8 numbers
Small onions - 6-7, sliced
Ginger - 1" piece, sliced
Garlic - 10 small cloves, sliced
Kudampuli / kokum
Wash the kudampuli and soak in 1/2 cup of warm water for 10-15 minutes.
Pulse the green chillies, small onions, ginger and garlic for not more than 3-5 sec, followed by the coconut and turmeric powder added in. Let the whole mixture be coarse and dry. No water is added during grinding.
Transfer ground paste to a flat earthern vessel / meen chatti or a thick-bottomed utensil. To this, mix in the kudampuli (and the water in which it was soaked) along with fish and the curry leaves and salt. Drizzle 1 tbsp of coconut oil to avoid the curry sticking to the bottom. Cook on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until the fish is cooked. Drizzle the rest of the coconut oil or the remaining 1 tbsp over the curry. Serve hot with steamed rice.