Kerala is a coastal state on the southwestern edge of India, famous for the fish and seafood preparations in the restaurant industry. Kerala fish is most often prepared in coconut - based stews and curries. Coconut milk aids in weight loss, electrolyte balancing, strengthening immune system and got anti - inflammatory properties. Kerala people cannot think of a better option than blending fish and coconut milk for their healthy well being. Fish Nirvana is a blend of finely crushed spices infused into fish and then cooked with coconut milk wrapped in a banana leaf. The flavour and aroma penetrates into the sauce by this method. Seer Fish (Neymeen) is the most common fish used in a nirvana preparation.

Here are two exclusive recipes by Chef from Estuary Sarovar Portico, Poovar Island.

Here's a thought before throwing away the shells, next time you handle a coconut in your kitchen. India is one of the largest producers of coconuts around the globe. Kerala is famous for production industry based on coconut in India. Keralites don't spend a day without coconut. Each part of coconut is useful. However most of us decide to throw away the shell. Due to its medicinal values, shells are eaten in some part of the country. In others, it's used to cook and serve food. Many tribes in Kerala use different traditional cooking methods of chicken. Flavours are selected and blended in such a way that each recipe smells and taste different. They prefer crushing spices and grinding pastes the traditional way, thereby savouring flavours to the true potential. Infusing these flavours into chicken meat by blending them inside a coconut shell, beats the technology of state-of-the-art restaurant cooking style.

So, if you get to handle a coconut shell today, here's something you could try.

FISH NIRVANA

Ingredients

For Marinating Fish : 

    Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp

    Kashmiri chilli powder – 1tsp

    Pepper powder – 1/4 tsp

    Lemon juice – 1 tsp

    Salt – To taste

    Coconut oil - 1 tsp

For Cooking

    Coconut milk, medium thick – 1/2 cup

    Ginger – 1tsp (thinly sliced)

    Green chilies – 3 nos (split)

    Fresh crushed black pepper – 1/4 tsp

    Salt – 1-2 pinches or as required

    Curry leaves – To taste

METHOD

    Marinate fish with first ingredients. Set aside for 30 minutes.

    Heat 2 tsp coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. 

    Place the marinated fish and fry for 1 – 2 minutes on each side until half-cooked.

    Clean a banana/plantain leaf. Place it over flame for a few seconds to make them soft and pliable.

    Place the banana leaf inside a clay pot. Heat the clay pot over medium heat. 

   Place the fish in banana leaves. Pour 1/2 cup coconut milk on top. Sprinkle sliced ginger, split green chilies, few curry leaves, crushed pepper, coconut oil and little bit of salt. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes over low heat

    Once done, add 1 tsp coconut oil and curry leaves. Serve with Appam or fresh bread.

COCONUT SHELL COOKED CHICKEN

Ingredients

    Chicken – 100gm ( cut into very small pieces)

    Turmeric powder – 10gms

    Garam masala powder – 1tsp

    Curry leaves- few

    Coriander leaves – 20gms (chopped) 

    Banana leaves

    Coconut 1 no’s

    Salt to taste

For crushing to paste:

    Ginger – 20gms

    Garlic - 30gms 

    Shallots – 5 nos

    Black pepper corn – 1tsp 

    Green chilly – 3 nos

    Fennel – 1tsp

    Cumin - 1tsp

    Coconut oil - as require

METHOD

    Crush all ingredients together. Don’t make it to a fine paste, just crush it.

    Marinate the washed chicken pieces with turmeric powder, garam masala, curry leaves, coriander leaves, salt and crushed ingredients. 

    Keep the marinated chicken aside for at least one hour.

    Pour out the water from young fresh coconut.

    Fill the marinated chicken mix into these young coconut shell, seal the mouth of the coconut using first layer banana leaves and second layer silver foil.

    Bake these filled coconut over range in low flame or put it in tandoori oven for minimum 20 to 30 minutes .

    Once its ready remove silver foil and serve .

    Coconut shell cooked chicken serves with bun, porotta or wheat paratha.