This Thalassery style sardine fry involves slow-cooking the fish by frying in a base of grated coconut, rice flour, red chillies, green chillies, ginger, and curry leaves.
Many of my friends who tried the chicken perattu recipe reached out to me to say that it came out well and everyone loved it. If you remember the chicken perattu post, you’ll know that I got this recipe from my brother-in-law. The success of that recipe prompted me to go back to him for another family favourite recipe of his – the special sardine fry – this one from where they live now, Thalassery.
Thalassery, a town in the Kannur district along the Malabar coast, is famous for its culinary heritage. This coastal town is renowned not just for the eponymous Thalassery Biriyani, but also for many of their seafood delicacies made with the fresh seafood they have in abundance!
Sardines are a popular fish along the coasts of South India. They are used to make curries and fish fries. But sardines are not for everyone. Compared to a lot of other fish, they have a stronger smell and a strong taste. But they are probably the healthiest fish and an economical seafood choice for many. They are a source of omega-3 fatty acids known to combat cardiovascular diseases. They are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and calcium. The lower amount of contaminants like mercury makes them a safer seafood choice as well.
About this Thalassery style sardine fry
If you like sardines, you are going to love the Thalassery style sardine fry. This Thalassery style sardine fry is totally different from the conventional Kerala fish fry. The biggest difference is in the marinade. The marinade used in this preparation is not just to coat the fish. It adds volume to the dish and forms the base of the fish fry. So the end result is not a crispy fish fry. Instead, it is succulent fish with a firm texture on the outside and a lot of flavours coming from the grated coconut and chilli paste cooked in oil.
Thalassery Style Sardine Fry
- 400 grams sardines approx 15 medium sized
- 7 dry kashmiri chillies
- 7 shallots medium sized
- 2 green chillies medium sized
- 1 inch ginger piece
- 1/2 cup grated coconut
- 1/4 cup rice flour
- 6-7 curry leaves
- salt as required
- coconut oil for frying
- coconut milk optional
- Soak the Kashmiri chillies in lukewarm water for 10 minutes.
- Drain the water and keep it aside.
- Pulse the Kashmiri chillies in a blender.
- Add the green chillies, shallots, ginger, curry leaves, salt, and blitz again.
- Now add the grated coconut, and rice flour, and grind to a thick paste.
- You can add water, that was kept aside, as required while grinding with the grated coconut.
- Add more salt if required
- This is our marinade and it also forms the fish fry base.
- Clean and score the sardines.
- If the marinade is too thick, add some water (or coconut milk for an even better result).
- Coat the sardines with the marinade.
- Heat some coconut oil in a pan. A cast iron pan works well.
- There should be enough oil to cover half the height of sardines when placed.
- Once the oil is hot, reduce to a low flame. We don't want the fish to be crispy fried.
- Gently place the sardines. You will have to fry them in batches (unless you have a big pan).
- Add some extra marinade also in the gaps between the sardines in the pan.
- Slow fry for 5 minutes. Turn over the sardines and fry the other side as well.
- Take them out of the pan using a slotted spoon and transfer to a serving plate.
- You can use paper towels to soak up some of the extra oil.
- Fry the marinade in the pan for a couple more minutes and extract them too.
- Repeat for the remaining sardines.
- If there is any marinade remaining, fry that too in the pan and add it to the top of the fried sardines.
- Serve hot. Tastes great with rice and curry.