Priced at a steep Rs 1,200-1,500 per kg, the fresh water fish said to be high in nutritional content is a specialty in the state.

The delicious Ayirai could become Tamil Nadus state fish
news News Saturday, November 18, 2017 - 16:07

What Karimeen (pearl spot) is to Kerala, Ayirai meen (loach) is to Tamil Nadu. And soon, like its neighbouring state did with Karimeen, TN could officially name Ayirai meen as the state fish, reported The Hindu.

"We are discussing the formalities with the Director of Fisheries and other higher officials. Kerala has already declared Karimeen as the state fish and murrel has gained that status in Telangana," Dr S Felix, Vice-Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Fisheries University (TNFU), told the publication.

Priced at a steep Rs 1,200-1,500 per kg, the fresh water fish said to be high in nutritional content is a specialty in the state.

Stating that the Centre has asked all states to pick its own official fish species, Felix also said that there is a big potential if the fish is cultivated through pond culture.

"The fish has huge commercial value and our Finance Secretary K Shanmugam is keen on developing techniques for cultivation of the fish," he added.

Talks are also underway to run research centres in Madhavaram in Chennai and Parakkai in Kanniyakumari district.

Food blogger Viki Xavier in a post about the fish writes, "My amma used to tell me that this fish season occurs (sic) during the beginning of summer in Madurai (when the lakes dry and the fishes and brinjal would come in auction). During summer (at that time) they used to clean the ponds and the rain water gets collected afresh when it rains and would feed the entire city."

The Ayirai meen kuzhambu served at the Amma Mess in Madurai is a hugely popular dish.

Also read: Magicians of Meat: Inside Madurai’s famous Amma Mess

It was in 2011 that Kerala officially recognised Karimeen as the state fish. In fact, 2010-11 was also observed as 'The Year of Karimeen'.

Though a bit expensive, the fish species is a delicacy popular among both locals and tourists. It is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

In a blog for Hindustan Times, this is how culinary expert Karen Anand described the fish: “I'm not from Kerala but I have always felt very comfortable there. I do however love seafood, and the backwater fish karimeen, or pearl spot, is to my mind one of the finest, most delicate fish in India. Fry it, slather masala all over it, steam it – whatever the preparation, it is something to dream about.”

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