Recipe for Spicy Nethili Meen Varuval, Deep fried Anchovies – நெத்திலி மீன் வறுவல். Anchovies marinated in a Tamil style masala with spices and herbs and deep fried. Crispy and crunchy Nethili Meen Fry recipe.
I love deep fried anchovies. They never made anchovies at my home. We had access to only river water fish when were young. Sea fish was very hard to come by in Coimbatore. The first time I had anchovies was in Chennai when I was young with Babu Uncle. When the deep fried anchovies arrived at the table, I took one and was incessantly trying to remove the tiny bones. He stopped me and told me to just eat it all. I was like “எனக்கு போன் சாப்பிட்டு பழக்கம் இல்லையே” – I am not used to eating bones in a fish (I was actually scared if the bones would poke me). He just casually took an anchovy and enjoyed it. He told that the tiny bones are so soft and so crisp that you will never realize that there were bones to begin with. I had my first deep fried anchovy – It was crispy, crunchy, salty and so full of the flavors of the sea. It has become one of my favorite fishes. I like it deep fried. Here is how to do Nethili varuval, my style.
We will need gutted and cleaned Nethili fish for this fish fry. Clean and wash the Nethili in salt water. Set aside to dry. If the anchovies are small, keep the bones in. If the anchovies are big (More than 2 inches), its easy to remove the bones from the anchovies. Today I had big anchovies. So I removed the bones. Refer to this video in you tube for deboning anchovies.
Take a bowl and add in the cleaned fish. Add in the crushed ginger and garlic. I use a mortar and pestle to crush the ginger and garlic.
Add in the red chilli powder, turmeric powder, black pepper powder and salt. Add in the rice flour and maida.
Add in the vinegar. Plain regular vinegar works just fine. No fancy vinegar is required. Add in finely chopped curry leaves. Curry leaves is what gives that southie flavour to the fish. Do not omit the curry leaves.
Mix everything well to combine. Sprinkle few drops of water while mixing. Let the fish marinate for 30 minutes to an hour at room temperature.
Heat vegetable oil / sunflower oil in a kadai until really hot. The masalas wont separate if fried in really hot oil. When the oil is hot, gently place the marinated anchovies and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add in few sprigs of curry leaves to the oil. Try not to disturb the fish after placing in oil.
Fry till golden.
Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel.
Squeeze some lemon juice on the fish and serve hot with some sliced onions. Serve immediately.
- 250 grams Anchovies, cleaned and gutted, deboned if big
- 2 sprigs curry leaves, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic
- ½ inch piece ginger
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon plain vinegar
- 2 tablespoon rice flour
- 2 tablespoon maida
- Vegetable oil / Sunflower oil to deep fry
- lemon wedges and sliced onions to serve
- Clean and wash the Nethili in salt water. Set aside to dry.
- Add in finely chopped curry leaves, crushed ginger and garlic, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, black pepper powder and salt.
- Add in the vinegar. Add in the rice flour and maida.
- Mix everything well to combine.
- Let the fish marinate for 30 minutes to an hour at room temperature.
- Heat vegetable oil / sunflower oil in a kadai until really hot. The masalas wont separate if fried in really hot oil. When the oil is hot, gently place the marinated anchovies and fry for 2-3 minutes. Try not to disturb the fish after placing in oil.
- Fry till golden. Serve immediately.