Acclaimed author of many cook books, Food and Wine editor of Town&Country for over two decades, James Villas wrote in an article called Unsung Sardines - Ounce for ounce, sardines provide more calcium and phosphorus than milk, more protein than steak, more potassium than bananas, and more iron than cooked spinach. Now, even if I hadn’t read that, I still would assume that these little silver slender beauties had to have high authority in terms of nutrition in order to find their way to my health freak sister Sony’s table every other day . Frankly for me, the nutrition aspect is just an added bonus. I simply love them for their unparalleled flavor.
Fresh sardines are found in plenty in Kerala and hence are cooked very often, usually poached or grilled. Fresh sardines however have been hard to find for me over here. But I do manage to get some good ones at Whole Foods or at my local Chinese market. All my recipes use fresh sardines and since I’ve never used the canned kind I cannot comment about how my recipes might turn out with them.This recipe can of course be tried with any other fish too. Sardines are only ‘my’ preference .
1 lb sardines cleaned and slit a couple of times on the sides
2 tsp red chili powder (base it on tolerable spice levels)
1 tsp paprika (mainly for the red color)
1/4 tsp fenugreek seed powder
5- 6 shallots finely sliced
1.5 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 kudampulli (camboge fruit rinds)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 sprigs of curry leaves
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
2 –3 tbsp coconut oil /any vegetable refined oil
salt to taste