Netholy Varuthathu/ Spicy and Crunchy Anchovy Fry Indian Style

‘Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla’ 🙂 It is a popular South Indian (Malayalam language) movie from Kerala. The meaning of the movie title is ‘Anchovy is not a small fish’. Now you are thinking, actually anchovy is a small fish, why am I talking like this and why does that Kerala movie have that kind of a silly name. In my perspective, the movie title is accurate for the storyline. In the movie, the lead character was weak and manipulated by others but at last, he proved his power within him. So I learned from that story don’t judge a thing with its appearance, we definitely appreciate what is within 🙂 For in the case of Anchovy/Netholy fish, its size is very small but it has plenty of nutritional values and benefits. Yeah! Anchovies are an excellent source of calcium, minerals, protein, iron, and zinc. Anchovies have high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that help in preventing inflammation and heart diseases. Yeah! The small tiny fish has plenty of health benefits that’s why I strongly agree on the fact that “Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla (Anchovy is not a small fish)” 🙂
Then my love for Anchovy started from my childhood. We got very fresh and tasty anchovy fish there in Kerala. That time I was not aware of anchovies health benefits in such a manner but I remember my mom used to say it has lots of calcium and iron. It is good for your bones, eyes, teeth, hair growth, even your fingernails :-). For my love of long hair, polished and shaped fingernails, I think I was the winner in eating Netholi/anchovy fry or curry in my home 😉 yeah! I used to eat the crunchy and crispy anchovy fries from the kitchen Irumbu Chatti (Iron frying pan) during its frying time. Most of the time my portion will be finish in the kitchen ;-). Then later poor mom had to save for me some extra fish fry from her and my sister’s portion during our meal time 😉 😀 . Those days, I love to eat rice with my mom’s delicious moru curry (spiced buttermilk curry), anchovy fry and pickles. Even nowadays in Singapore, I did not change that practice and that enjoyment you can see in my pictures too 🙂  This time I try to share my cooking method pictures with some more detailed and in a traditional manner. I hope all of you will love this recipe like me, try and enjoy!


Recipe Type Seafood/ Starter/ Side Dish
Cooking and Preparation Time 15 to 20 Minutes
Serve to 3 to 4

Ingredients for Netholy Varuthathu/ Spicy Anchovy Fry Kerala Style

Ingredient Quantity
Fresh Netholy/Anchovy 250g
Kashmiri Chilli Powder 1 tablespoon
Turmeric Powder 1/2 Teaspoon
Pepper Powder 1 Teaspoon
Rice Flour 2 tablespoon
Salt As per your taste
Curry Leaves 1 Spring
Coconut Oil/Any Veg Oil For Deep Frying Fish

How to Prepare Spicy and Crunchy Anchovy Indian Style

anchovy-fry-method-11. Clean and cut fresh netholy/anchovy. For cleaning anchovy, with a kitchen scissor remove its head, tail and side fins. Then cut its stomach part, remove every dirt from inside. Add little sea salt, scrub and wash 2 or three times or until it’s silver strips looks very clean and shiny.

anchovy-fry-method-22. Mariate with spices, rice flour, salt and curry leaves. Keep aside 15 to 30 minutes.

anchovy-fry-method-33. Heat oil in a frying pan [I used irumbu cheenachatti (iron frying pan) bought from kerala in my last visit], place marinated anchovy. Fry (medium-high Flame) until Both sides crispy and brown.

anchovy-fry-method-44. Remove from oil and serve hot as a starter or a side dish, enjoy!



  1. says

    natholi oru cheriya meen alla …Yeah they are very tasty and deep fries can make them so crunchy.This recepie is just lit. I literally loved it.Ithu chorinte oppm kooty kazhikumpo vere currym venda….

  2. Maya says

    You are wrong. the movie title when translated into English is “Netholi is a small fish, right!”

    • Rani Vijoo says

      Hi Maya, I think I am right 🙂 The movie title is “Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla” and its english translation is “Anchovy is not a Small Fish” 🙂 Thank You!

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