Mathi masala: A spicy twist to the classic Kerala fish fry

Frying marinated sardine
Frying marinated sardine. Photo: iStock/libin jose

Most Keralites confess that they can’t eat a morsel of rice without fish curry or fried fish on the side. Among the hundreds of fish varieties, sardines, or mathi as they are called in the local parlance, enjoy a special spot on our dining tables. While some people love spicy sardine curry or small sardines fried to crisp, others enjoy mathi peera (sardines cooked in coconut and spices). Check out the recipe of delicious sardine masala that makes a lip-smacking side to your meals.

Sardines (cleaned and scored)
1 tbsp chilli powder
2 tbsp coriander powder
½ tbsp turmeric powder
Salt as required
2 tbsp vinegar
Crushed pepper corns
Water as required
Coconut oil as required
Palm full of chopped shallots
Some chopped garlic

Mix chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, salt, vinegar, crushed pepper and some water in a bowl
Thoroughly coat the cleaned sardines in this marinade
Save some marinade for later
Keep the marinated sardines aside for at least an hour
Heat coconut oil in a pan
Fry the sardines
Meanwhile, heat coconut oil in another pan
Sauté shallots, garlic and the masala paste
Add enough water
Sauté until the oil begins to separate
Add the fried sardines
Mix until the sardines are nicely coated in the masala
Delicious sardines masala is ready!

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