Would you like to try an awesomely good tasting anchovy recipe? Then you are at the right place. Nethili fish curry / Anchovies Curry / Nethallu Iguru is one of my favourites and never disappoints me whenever I prepare it.
My devotion, my taste for this little salty fish (any seafood for that matter) actually began since I was a kid. All my family and friends who know me close are aware of my strong love for seafood. I just can’t explain my love for seafood in words, apart from the fact that I grew up in a home with the most amazing cooks (mom n granny), always influencing my palate’s memory. I know I would have said this quite a few times but it’s never enough!!
Nethili, Nethallu or Anchovies are small salt-water fish that could be consumed with the bones. They can be as small as two centimetres and as large as 40 centimetres. Although anchovies do have a salty taste, they lend an exceptional flavour to whatever dish they are in. Nethili gets cooked very quickly, less than a minute or two. Usually these small sized fishes are tastier compared to the big ones but the cleaning part is time consuming. The head and the fins should be removed, the stomach part should be cleaned well to avoid the smell.
Anchovies are one of those foods that are unfortunately misunderstood. Many people hate anchovies, and while an aversion to them may be understandable, the stigma that surrounds them is undeserved. People who claim to dislike this little fish may have simply had one bad experience. If you’re your opinion is based on a one-time experience or even worse, having never tried them at all, I think you ought to give anchovies another shot and you just may change your mind about these gourmet mini delicacies. Once you try and discover that you love, anchovies are an unmatched culinary delight with limitless possibilities. Very few foods have such a wonderfully natural salinity. They are also so rewarding to eat because of their single-bite size.
Cleaning Anchovies are a great way to get to grips with gutting and preparing fish if you’re a novice. This may seem complicated, but it’s actually pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it…Sleeves up and no fuss!
There are different ways to prepare curry with anchovies. Today I’m going to share a version which uses coconut. This dish is really low calorie and high in calcium. You can also replace the anchovies in Nethili fish curry with other small fishes, if anchovies are scarce in your area. Learning how to prepare anchovies is good step for beginners, who are daunted by the exhausting task of cleaning a fish (scaling, beheading, gutting, cutting and/or filleting). This one is relatively easy to prepare in that sense. So let’s begin!!
Off to the recipe for Nethili fish curry!!
Steps-by-Step process to prepare Nethili Fish Curry:
- First clean and prepare the anchovies: Start by washing your anchovies under cold water. Anchovies have unusually large scales for such small fish. Scale them by scraping them backwards — tail to head — with a butter knife. You can do this under cold running water. Rinse them all off once you have scaled the anchovies. Take an anchovy in one hand, use the thumb of the other to slit open the body and then, grasping the head firmly between finger and thumb detach it together with the guts. Then pinch(cut) off the tail. Wash under cold water.
- Marinate the cleaned anchovy fish with ingredients under the section “To marinate” and set it aside for about 20 min.
- In the mean time grind all the ingredients under the section “To grind” in a mixer to a fine paste using hot water.
- Finely chop onions, green chillies and spring onions.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add chopped onions, green chillies and spring onions (add only the bulb part saving the slender green part). Sauté till they are slightly brown in colour.
- Add the ground masala paste and sauté till the raw smell goes off.
- Add turmeric powder, salt and red chilli powder. Stir for a minute.
- Add the remaining slender greens from the spring onions and sauté for a minute.
- Add marinated fish, some coriander and mix very gently.
- Now add quarter cup of water. You can adjust the consistency of the gravy to suit your requirement (The gravy for this recipe shouldn’t be too loose). Adjust salt if required.
- Cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes with frequent gentle stirring (or stirring by shaking the pan holding its handles ). Simmer for a minute till oil separates. Turn off the heat.
- Finally garnish Nethili fish curry with coriander and serve with rice. It pairs great with pappucharu, sambar or rasam.
- To marinate:
- 300 Grams Nethili Nethallu or Anchovies, cleaned & washed
- ½ teaspoon of red chilli powder
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- To grind:
- ½ inch Ginger
- 6 garlic pods
- 1 cm cinnamon stick
- 2 Cloves
- ½ teaspoon poppy seeds
- 1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
- ¼ cup hot water for grinding
- Other Ingredients:
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable Oil
- 1 Onion finely chopped
- 2 to 3 green Chilies finely chopped
- ½ cup spring onions finely chopped
- A sprig of Curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon of red chilli powder Adjust to suit your spice levels
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- Required salt
- ½ cup fresh coriander finely chopped
- Marinate the fish ingredients under “To marinate” and set it aside for about 20 min.
- In the mean time grind ingredients under “To grind” in a mixer to a fine paste using hot water.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add chopped onions, green chillies and spring onions (leaving the slender green part). Sauté till they are slightly brown in colour.
- Add the masala paste and sauté till the raw smell goes off. Add turmeric and red chilli powder. Stir for a minute.
- Add the remaining greens from the spring onions and sauté for a minute.
- Add marinated fish and some coriander. Mix gently.
- Now add a quarter cup of water and adjust salt. You can adjust the consistency of the gravy to suit your requirement (The gravy for this recipe shouldn’t be too loose).
- Cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes with gentle frequent stirring (or stirring by shaking the pan holding its handles). Simmer for a minute till oil separates. Turn off the heat.
2. Adjust spice levels to suit your taste.
3. Using hot water to grind the paste will aid the poppy seeds to grind easily.
4. You can use ginger garlic paste in case you do not have fresh ginger and garlic and grind only the other ingredients for the paste, but definitely there is a difference in the taste.
5. For a quick version, you can just skip the grinding process and add just ginger garlic paste to prepare this curry.
5. Make sure not to cook fish for very long.
6. For vegetarians - Use the same process to make delicious veggie gravies, just substitute fish with any of your favourite veggies.
Check out other popular seafood recipes on blog-
Many more to come!!…..Stay Tuned!!
Happy Cooking 🙂