Nadan Mathi Curry (Sardine Stew)

This homely curry, made by village-local Salma Kutty, calls for freshly-caught sardines, tongue-tingling spices and plenty of shredded green chillies
Nadan Mathi Curry (Sardine Stew)
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Effort: medium



  • 500 g sardines, heads removed

For the spice paste

  • 10 dried chillies
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 piece fresh turmeric, (3cm)peeled
  • 1 piece ginger, (3cm)chopped
  • 3 fat cloves garlic
  • 150 g grated coconut

For the sauce

  • 50 ml coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 1 piece ginger, (3cm)finely grated
  • 3 green chillies, shredded
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 walnut-sized piece of kokum
  • 250 ml water

Tips and Suggestions

Kokum is also known as fish tamarind and is sold at ethnic grocers. You could substitute with tamarind paste which is sold at most supermarkets.


1. Clean the sardines and set aside. For the spice paste, grind the chillies, coriander seeds, turmeric, ginger, garlic and coconut until smooth. It's best to use a mortar and pestle or a food processor for this.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the coconut oil over a moderate heat and toss in the mustard seeds followed by the curry leaves, shallots, ginger and chillies. When the onions are golden, tip in the tomatoes and add the crumbled kokum. The kokum will add a tang to the curry. Bring to a simmer and stir in the ground spice paste. Add about 250ml water and simmer for about 10 minutes until the sauce has slightly thickened.

3. Add the fish to the pan and continue cooking a further 10-15 minutes until the sauce has reduced and the sardines are tender. Serve with boiled rice.

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