Fiery Red Fried Sardines- Masala Fried Fish

Fried fish is an inherent part of almost every cuisine. Coated in a blend of spices unique to that specific region, be it just a basic salt, pepper, garlic, lime marinade or plenty of red chillies & tamarind, it is devoured with great relish by all fish lovers.

Sardines, a daily consumed fish caught fresh & fried at lunchtime along the coast in India, is one of the healthiest oily fish loaded in Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins B12 & vitamin D, providing one of the lowest mercury levels of any fish. They also provide essential minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium & phosphorus.

As they are usually shallow fried to a delicious crisp & consumed with bones, they are an excellent source of calcium & protein as well- providing more vitamin E than Tuna in fact.

What’s more, they are so versatile, that they can be grilled, fried, slow cooked in banana leaves without any oil or cooked into one of the tastiest curries.

But since my family swears by fiery red masala sardines’ fry with a simple dal & rice meal, here goes the traditional masala in my home, Konkani style. This can be used as a basic marinade for Mackerel or King Fish fry too.

Paired here with a light Malabar Spinach in coconut gravy – Vaali Bendi.

Recipe for Fiery Red Fried Sardines

Ingredients (Serves 4 Persons)

  • 500 gms fresh sardines (fish) / mathi / tarle / pedvo, washed & cleaned well
  • Oil for shallow frying

To grind into a smooth paste

  • 10 Byadagi or Kashmiri dry red chillies
  • 6 – 8 cloves garlic
  • 1” piece ginger
  • Juice of 1 lemon / 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 3 tablespoons raw rice grains, washed and drained
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons water for grinding


  1. Wash & clean the sardines thoroughly. Make 3-4 gashes on both sides of each fish.
  2. Dry roast the red chillies on low flame for 3-4 minutes stirring continuously. Do not burn.
  3. Once cool, grind all the ingredients listed above into a smooth paste with a little water. Avoid diluting the paste.
  4. Apply the semi wet red masala evenly on both sides of each fish & leave it aside covered to marinate for 30 minutes.
  5. Heat oil in a large frying pan for shallow frying & slip in the fish.
  6. Fry for 3-5 minutes on each side, cooking on medium flame. This helps the masala to cook well without burning.
  7. You will notice the masala gradually darkening in colour as it cooks. Flip & cook similarly on the other side.
  8. Your shallow fried sardines are now ready to serve as starter or main course. Serve with slices of lemon & onion.

3 thoughts on “Fiery Red Fried Sardines- Masala Fried Fish

  1. Looking forward to trying this out soon, Amrita. Fish is one of my favorite foods and I remember eating this at a roadside cafe in Kerala several years ago. I was in heaven!!!
    Thank you so much for the recipe!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am surely going for this masala, we love fish in all shapes and sizes…can this masala be stored. ALSO is it ok to use rice flour or the freshly ground rice grains will enhance the taste in a better way

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: