Sardine Fish Curry With Tapioca: A Heavenly Delight From Kerala
Image Credit: Sardine fish curry/ Instagram- spicy_belly

Sardine is an all-time favourite and preferred fish in Kerala. This fish is delicious and versatile, and is every home’s delight. Popularly also known as Matha Curry, it is a simple yet tasty sardine dish from Kerala. It is an authentic dish made with fragrant spices. Sardine fish paired with tapioca is a perfect match made in heaven. As the Sardine Fish Curry is too spicy, mashed tapioca blended with some mild spices balance the hot and fiery flavour of the curry. Hence, sardine curry is best when served with tapioca. The starchy kappa (tapioca) is chopped into pieces and is cooked with some simple spices along with grated coconut and then coupled with the matha (sardine fish) curry to conclude a dish, which is awesomely flavourful and vibrant. Sardine Fish Curry with tapioca is not just a dish but an emotion. It kindles a kind of warmth and childhood memories from the motherland. 

Sardine finds its name from Sardinia, an island in the Mediterranean. Meanwhile,  tapiocas derived their name from the Tupi language referring to a curd-like starch sediment. It came to India during World War II. Here’s the recipe for the dish.

For the Matha Curry:


1. 1 kg sardine

2. 1 peeled ginger

3. 10 shallots

4. 2 green chillies

5. 5 Malabar tamarind pods

6. 5 curry leaves

7. 1½ tsp red chilli powder

8. 1 tsp fenugreek powder

9. 1 tsp mustard seeds

10. Salt, as per taste

11. 5 tbsp coconut oil


1. Soak Malabar tamarind in hot water.

2. Clean the fish properly. Cut into pieces and wash again with tamarind water.

3. In a mixer-grinder (silbatta preferred for a perfect texture), ground ginger and garlic together into a fine paste. 

4. In a large pot, heat the coconut oil and add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Let the seeds crackle. 

5. Now add chopped shallots and green chillies. Saute them. Then add ginger-garlic paste and curry leaves. Saute for 5 minutes. 

6. Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and fenugreek powder. Mix them well.

7. Add water, Malabar tamarind and salt. Stir them properly. Cover and cook for 8 minutes.

8. Remove the lid and add sardine fish and a pinch of salt into the curry. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the fish becomes tender. Allow the fish to cook in low flame.

9. When the gravy becomes thick, drizzle some coconut oil and curry leaves. Close the lid and remove. Keep aside.



1. 1 kg tapioca

2. Salt

3. Water

4. 1 cup grated coconut

5. 5 green chillies

6. 8 curry leaves

7. ½ tsp turmeric powder

8. 1 tsp cumin seeds


1. Peel the outermost brown and pinkish skin of tapioca. 

2. Only the white part needs to be cooked. Cut them into equal sizes.

3. In a grinder, add coconut, green chillies, garlic, curry leaves, cumin seeds, and turmeric powder and make a thick paste. Set aside.

4. In a large pot, put the tapioca, add water and salt. Cook well until soft and can be mashed with a spoon. Strain the excess water and mash the tapioca well. 

5. Add grinded coconut paste to the mashed tapioca. 

6. Mix them properly, crushing the ingredients further. Remove from the flame 

7. Serve hot in a banana leaf with freshly prepared matha fish curry.