Netholi Fry Recipe, A Kerala Anchovy Snack With A Crunch

When it comes to the cuisine of Kerala, it's impossible to ignore the vast array of delicious seafood dishes that the state has to offer. Among the many delicacies, one particular dish that stands out is the humble Netholi Fry. This traditional Keralite dish is a real treat for seafood lovers, especially those who enjoy the crispy texture and spicy flavours of deep-fried fish.

This crispy treat is made using a small variety of fish called Netholi, known in English as Anchovies. These small fish are marinated in a blend of spices and then deep-fried until crispy and golden brown. The result is a mouth-watering dish that is sure to tantalise your taste buds.

Netholi Fry is traditionally served as an appetiser or a side dish in Kerala cuisine and a staple of their infamous toddy bars often accompanied by a simple onion and tomato salad or spicy chutney.  What sets Netholi Fry apart from other fried fish dishes is the combination of spices used in the marinade. The spices create a unique flavour profile that is both spicy and aromatic for a touch of warmth and depth to the dish.

Video Credits: Village Cooking - Kerala


  • 500g Netholi (Anchovy)
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup semolina (rava)
  • Oil for frying


  • Clean the Netholi fish and remove the heads and tails.
  • In a bowl, mix the chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, black pepper powder, ginger garlic paste, and salt to make a marinade.
  • Add the cleaned Netholi to the marinade and mix well to coat the fish evenly. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • In another bowl, mix the rice flour and semolina.
  • Heat oil in a pan for frying.
  • Take each Netholi fish from the marinade and coat it well in the rice flour and semolina mixture.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the coated Netholi fish to the pan and fry until golden brown and crispy on both sides.
  • Remove the fish from the pan using a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
  • Serve hot with a side of onion and tomato salad or spicy chutney.
  • Enjoy the delicious and crispy Netholi Fry as a perfect appetiser or side dish to any meal!