Monday 3 March 2014

Chala Meen Fry | Mathi Meen Varuval | Chaalai Meen Fry | Indian Style Sardines Fish Fry

Sardines or Mathi or Chaala as we call are hugely available in Tamil Nadu's coastal areas and it is the fish kind that I have devoured very often right from my childhood. Mom would make some fish curry or fish fry so very often as we would easily get these in our hometown. Every morning fishmongers would bring loads of them in baskets and would sell them in our streets. So it was much easier and handy, to just grab a few of them near the door step, at a cheaper price and make curries using those fresh ones. There are times when we get 10 fishes for just 10 rupees and sometimes 3 to 5 for 10 rupees, however I find them so inexpensive and affordable. These sardines are cheap, yet tasty and packed with loads of goodness that many aren't aware of. Since it is available in abundance some tend to just underestimate sardines like I did, until I read some article somewhere. These humble little fishes are said to promote and support cardiovascular health as these are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and tends to lower cholesterol too. Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Calcium, Protein are abundantly present in these fishes and they can benefit you in so many ways. And another exciting fact is these omega 3 fatty acids give you a youthful looking skin and a lustrous hair. I'm just amazed at how much a little fish can render goodness health-wise. So whenever you get a chance, fetch them and make curries or fry or any recipe and enjoy its goodness. This Fish fry that I have posted today is easy to prepare and can be prepared without much fuss and tastes great with rice. There is an unusual combo that we follow at our homes, we serve these fried fishes with a thick coconut based tamarind gravy (Puli kulambu) believe it or not, it is such a divine combo!! You can try this combo if it seems interesting or just serve these fried fish with rice & fish curries or curd rice or even with lemon rice. Lets see how to prepare this easy tasty Indian style sardines fish fry. 


Total Preparation Time - 30 minutes
  1. Sardines / Mathi / Chala - 15 
  2. Red chilli powder - 4 teaspoons 
  3. Turmeric powder - 1/8 teaspoon 
  4. Besan / Gram flour / Kadalai maavu - 2 teaspoon (optional) 
  5. Lemon juice - 1 teaspoon (optional) 
  6. Salt - As per taste (nearly 2 to 3 teaspoons) 
  7. Oil - For deep frying 


  • Cleaning & Gutting Process - If you get the whole fishes, first remove the scales using a knife. To do this, just slide the knife across the fish in opposite directions to remove the scales. Then cut the head off. After that make an incision, one inch long near the stomach using a sharp knife. Pull off the inside thread and a sac like stuff using your fingers, it will come off easily. Now rinse well in water. If you get your fish already scaled, gutted and chopped, just wash the fishes and proceed. 
  • Now pat dry fishes using a tissue paper and place them on a plate or wide bowl. 
  • Mix together, red chilli powder, salt, turmeric powder, lemon juice and gram flour in a separate bowl to make a thick paste (sprinkle water if necessary). Now add this masala to the fish pieces, spread masala on all sides, do not add even single drop of water. Then set aside for about 10 to 20 minutes depending on the time availability.
  • Place a pan on flame and pour enough oil to deep fry the fish pieces. (You can also shallow fry them when not using gram flour.) 
  • After the oil turns hot, gently slide the fish pieces into it and fry the fish pieces on medium flame until brown and crisp. (It may take 3 minutes) 
  • Remove from flame. 
  • Serve hot!!

TIP 1: You can make incisions or slits on the fish pieces for the masala to get penetrated well. The marination  time purely depends on the time availability, you can just apply the masala and let the fishes rest in the chiller tray in refrigerator for upto an hour and then fry them.

TIP 2: Add some curry leaves while frying the fish pieces it will give a nice aroma. 

TIP 3: If you want to just pan fry or shallow fry the fishes, skip adding gram flour. If using gram flour the fish pieces may get stuck to the pan. 

Tasty Indian Style Sardines Fry is now ready! Serve with rice and enjoy!!

Check out my other Sea-food recipes here!!


  1. Love this fry, if its deep fried..But yours makes me hungry..

  2. Yummy platter and lve the presentation akka

  3. I don't eat fish...but this pLatter looks wonderful,

  4. Love this fish fry.. Nice presentation dear.

  5. even mathi s luking gorgeous.. lovely clicks Divya

  6. Perfect fry....lovely presentation

  7. These r so sardine..the only difficulty is the mess and smell that u need to deal with while cleaning and frying it...but who cares because at the end its the delicious sardine fry that u get to have :)

  8. Yuummy chala fry ..I want some Divya ..:(

  9. Irresistible click Divya..Absolutely delicious..

  10. Wow sounds delicious....droolworthy fish fry

  11. awesome recipe n tips will definitely try.

  12. hai divya how are you? and i like your recipes in sun tv. and i try to do this also. and i search your blog spot.and i will get this. thank you so much for your recipes.the you try to video type receipes.If there is kindly inform me please. my mail id is


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