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Nethili Fish Fry - Karnataka Style | Anchovies Fish Fry

Karnataka Style Fish fry recipe
Karnataka Style Fish fry recipe
Nethili Fish/ Nethilli Meen/ Anchovies are a small variety of fish that are quite popular down South (India), one of the finger licking fish starters would me Nethilli Meen Varuval in most restaurants. Since the fish are tiny they are marinated in spices and fried crisp. But there are medium sized variety to the same fish. Last week I wanted to try a Karnataka Style fish fry recipe and with this small variety of fish the result was an awesome fish side recipe. This recipe is a simple one just follow your usual marinate and dip the fish in roasted rava/ semolina/ sooji and fry them. This recipe can be served as a starter or side on its own without any dipping sauce. I have a fingerlicking Nethili fish kurma in draft will be posting it soon so check out this space ;-).

Nethili Fish Fry Recipe
Nethili Fish Fry Recipe

Anchovies Fish Fry
Anchovies Fish Fry

Recipe - Own
Serves - 2-3 generously
Prep time - 5 mins
Marination - 3 hrs or overnight
Cook time - 10-15 mins for the whole batch


Nethili fish/ anchovies - 1/4 kg or 10 pieces
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Roasted rava/ sooji/ semolina - 3 tbsp
Oil - 4-5 tbsp for pan frying

For Marination 

Red chilli - 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri red chilli - 1 tsp
Corriander powder - 2 tsp
Jeera/ cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Ginger garlic paste - 2 tsp
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp


1. Wash the Nethilli fish well and cut the head if you do not like it in your fish fry.
2. Use cold running water to clean the fish 3-4 times, drain all the water completely. Now add the salt and turmeric, set aside for 15 minutes.
3. Mix the other ingredients given under to marinate in a bowl, add the fish pieces and mix until well combined.
4. Cover with a plate / cling film and pop into the refrigerator to marinate as long as you want minimum 3 hrs to overnight.
5. 30 minutes before frying take it from the refrigerator and keep outside. Pour oil in a pan/kadai and heat it. Once the oil is in medium heat take a plate and add roasted rava/ sooki/ semolina to it. 
6. Coat the marinated fish with the semolina tap the excess rava and add to the medium hot oil. Let the fish fry for 1 minute each side. Carefully flip side and fry again for 1 minute. 
7. Using a slotted spoon remove from the pan and place on a kitchen towel to remove excess oil.
8. Repeat the process for all the coated fish.
9. Serve hot/ warm immediately.

Karnataka Style Fish fry recipe
Karnataka Style Fish fry recipe


1. I used medium sized anchovies/ nethili fish you can use any small or medium sized fish for this fry.


2. Marination can be adjusted as per your taste or preference. I used South Indian mix of spices.


3. The hot fish will remain crisp and it is great to have it hot/ warm. If it cools down the crispyness will go away. You can deep fry too.


4. Make sure that you flip the fish carefully since its a small fish there is a tendency for it to split and marination can fall off.



  1. beautifully pictured, priya... though not a fan of nethilli, would love to try this out next time I get some... :)

  2. Irresistible fried fish. Super tempting...

  3. looks so crispy.with rawa,I guess it tastes more crunchy!

  4. looking so crispy dear

  5. Nice clicks . Tempting fry


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Priya Ranjit

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