Spice-Crusted Sea Bream Wrapped in Banana Leaf

Vivek Singh created this spicy Indian fish dish especially for the festival of Diwali, but it's delicious at any time
Spice-Crusted Sea Bream Wrapped in Banana Leaf
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes plus 30 mins marinating
  • Effort: easy


  • 1/2 tsp ground red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 limes, juice only
  • 4 medium filletssea bream, scaled and pin-boned
  • 4 banana leaves, cut into 25-30cm squares
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or corn oil

For the spice crust

  • 4 shallots, peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground red chillies
  • 20 curry leaves, finely shredded
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or corn oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp white malt vinegar

For the green mango and coconut chutney

  • 3 green mango, peeled, deseeded and cut into dices
  • 275 ml grated fresh coconut
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tsp ground red chillies
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or corn oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp water

Tips and Suggestions

This method of coating fish with intensely flavoured spice mixes and cooking it in banana leaves is a traditional method of cooking in Kerala, in India's south. The leaf protects the spices from burning and seals the flavours inside, keeping the fish moist. The charred leaf is then discarded before serving.


1. Combine the ground chilli, salt and lime juice in a flat, non-reactive dish. Put the fillets into the dish, coat with the marinade and set aside for 30 minutes.

2. For the spice crust: pound the shallots, garlic and peppercorns together to a coarse paste. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

3. Heat the banana leaves in a hot pan or in the microwave until they are soft and pliable.

4. Cover the bream fillets with the spice crust and wrap them, one by one, in the banana leaves. Set aside while you prepare the chutney.

5. For the green mango and coconut chutney: put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste, adding a little water if required.

6. Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Put in the leaf-wrapped bream fillets, cover and cook on a low heat for 3-4 minutes. Turn the fish, cover and cook on the other side for a further 3-4 minutes.

7. Remove the fish from the banana leaves and serve with the green mango and coconut chutney.

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