Nethili Meen Varuval/Smelt Fry

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Smelt Fry

Nethili Meen Varuval is a simple spicy fish fry, made by deep frying spice mixture coated fish pieces. Deep-fried Nethili is a favorite in my house. The nicely-sized smelt (they were significantly larger than usual) I saw at the Asian supermarket today awakened a desire for some crispy smelt fish. 
Smelt, Anchovies or Nethili ~a family of small fish are an excellent source of Selenium, Vitamin B12 and Potassium.
Kelso, Washington along the Columbia River in the Northwestern United States is listed  as the "Smelt Capital of the World".

List of ingredients :

  1. 20 to 25 Smelt
  2. 2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. ½ teaspoon turmeric
  1. Clean and wash the fish. Marinate the fish with red chilli powder, salt and turmeric for an hour. 
  2. In a kadai/pan heat oil for deep frying.Slip the marinated smelt into the hot oil. Leave it for a while until brown for 2 to 3 minutes or until the crackling sound subsidies in the oil. Fry the fish in small batches. Place on absorbent paper towel to remove excess oil.
Serve with some lime /lemon juice.
Tips: To clean~ First, remove head by pulling and the guts will also be removed as well.  Wash, strain and set aside. The oil has to be hot enough- and the most vital point is that it must be really hot. The idea is to seal the fish in the hot oil on both sides otherwise – it is only when the oil isn’t hot enough that fried fish tastes oily and is soft.
I have used Smelt in the above recipe. Anchovies/Nethili has a strong flavor and I prefer Smelt.  


  1. fish fry looks delicious. does the smelt have lot of fine bones in it?

  2. these tiny fish fries are a delight. I love them.

  3. I love fish fry like these. Looks so yumm.

  4. I love this "Rama nettily" we call it and this one is pan fried in my house, I imagine the deep fried would bring such a great taste. I love to eat with the bones! U make me to crave for some fish!

  5. Some red hot pepper sauce with this would be great!

  6. do smelt and nethel taste similar? i have never tried smelt.

  7. Cynthia, I would love to try with the hot pepper sauce. Thanks for the tips...we had them with rasam-a South Indian soup and rice.

    Mallugirl, Smelt and Nethili do not taste similar. Nethilis are called Anchovies.

  8. This is my fav. Looks so good. YUM!. Love to add some lemon juice on it... YUM! YUM!

  9. Looks so yum....can i hv some:)

  10. Wow!!! that is a beautiful presentation..and a simple netheli meen fry..

  11. I love nethili meen!! even i have posted a nethili 65 in my blog!!!

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