Kerala Fish Fry


The smaller the fish the tastier they come. Don’t ask me the hows and whys. It is just my personal opinion and I think I couldn’t be more right ;).

The smaller fishes are a popular sell in Kerala too. Now and even as a child, I could eat just about anything with these!


1 lb small fish like parava/false trevally (my favorite) or killi meen/threadfin bream cleaned and whole
1 tbsp of fresh ginger garlic paste ( ginger and garlic in a 1:1 ratio)
1/2 tsp shallot paste
1 tsp chili powder (base it on tolerable spice levels)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp black ground pepper
salt to taste
1 tsp of lime juice (optional) 
2 sprigs of curry leaves
coconut oil/refined vegetable oil for roasting.



  • Make a couple of slits on either side of each fish and marinate them with a tsp of lime juice and set aside.
  • Mix all the spices with ginger-garlic, shallot and salt  to make a thick smooth paste. The marinade should be slightly on the saltier side.
  • Apply the paste on all the fishes making sure all sides are completely coated by a thin layer of marinade.
  • Set it aside for 30 mins or so.
  • Heat oil in a shallow non stick pan and  slide in the fishes one at a time.
  • Roast on medium heat and flip the fishes to other side after 2-3 min or when you see the fish is 3/4 cooked from the bottom.
  • The time you let to roast on each side depends on the size of each piece and how crisp you would like it to be.
  • When done place the pieces in paper towel to soak up any extra oil.
  • Garnish with  ground pepper and fried curry leaves.



    2 Responses to “Kerala Fish Fry”

    1. Carolina de Witte says:

      I SO want to eat this right this minute. What kind of fish available in America would you suggest? I can get fresh sardines, fresh anchovies, fresh herring, and smelt, depending on the time of year. There aren’t many available at this time of year, but would any of the above work for your recipe when available? (When the smelt are ‘running’, they can be bought for under $2 per pound, and they are ‘sustainable’, as they will simply die if not harvested as they swim to shore. I have even gone to a smelt run and caught enough to freeze AND enough to fertilize my gardens as well. You can catch probably at least 1000 per hour! (This is only one kind of smelt. I don’t think the others swarm like the ones we have here!) Oh, and I’m afraid the seasoning you have here might just overwhelm the flavour of smelts. What would be your recommendations for Americans wanting to make this dish? I want to eat these off of the screen!

      • julie says:

        u most definitely can do this recipe with smelt. i have and it tastes wonderful. if you think the recipe might over power the flavor of the fish you probably can reduce the amount of ginger-garlic-shallot paste by half…the rest of the spices will definitely compliment the fish 🙂

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