Khar – Spicy dry fish masala
Khar is a very spicy and hot dish made with green chillies, onion and dry fish mixture. Khar is a very homely dish from my home town Anantapur (Andhra Pradesh) my grandmother, relatives and my mom prepare this at home, but with different techniques. My grandmother prepares khar with pestle mortal and mother with grinder or mixer, both gives different taste though same ingredients. khar is a very homely dish very spicy and hot dish, not available in restuarants my father always demands for this dish , whenever he visits his mother’s house. The name itself says hot, spicy, but because of dry fish, this dish becomes special. This dish has minimum ingredients also. Dry fish will be salty, so little salt is required.
In the market we find variety of dry fishes like Anchovies (Nathili Meen in Tamil), Ribbon fish (Vaalai meen in Tamil), King fish (Vangaram Meen in Tamil). These fishes are dried in the sun near the beach by fisher men. So it is very necessary to clean the fish with water to remove sand (dust) and excess salt.
For khar king fish or ribbon fish can be used. You can just fry the fish in oil, as it is, shallow or tava fry. No need to add any chilli powder or any marinate for the dry fish, as we do for the fresh fish. Khar goes well with roti (chapathi) or jari ki roti or jowar roti made with jowar flour (sorghum flour).
- Oil - 4 tbsp
- Onion (big) sliced - 2
- Green chillies (long size) - 6 to 7
- Dry fish (pieces) – 40 to 50 grams (King fish or Ribbon fish)
- Salt - as per taste
- Garlic cloves - 2 to 3
- Dry coconut or fresh grated coconut - 40 grams or 5 tbsp
- Slice the onions and keep it aside. can use grated coconut or small pieces also in the dry or fresh form.
- I have used thick garlic cloves, bigger size. If having small ones need to use more 6 to 7 cloves.
- You can use any fish - king fish or ribbon fish.
- First wash the fish to remove dirt (sand) or any excess salt from the dry fish.
- Wipe it with tissue paper to remove/absorb the excess water, as you don’t want the oil to spatter on you while frying the dry fish in oil.
- Take a kadai or pan, put oil, 1 tbsp and fry the fish on both sides and keep it aside, no need to add salt or any masala, just fry it like that itself.
- In between, can drizzle some oil ,if needed. When cooked well on both sides, can remove and keep it aside in a plate.
- Heat the same kadai in which the fish was fried or another pan. Add oil, then when the oil gets warm, add onions and fry until it is brown and caramelised. Remove and keep it aside.
- Take a pan or tava, roast green chillies , coconut and garlic in the same pan or tava, till it gets that roasted colour , can see in the picture. When roasted, switch it of and keep it aside. cook it on medium flame.
- First grind coconut to a coarse powder, then add green chillies, garlic, salt, dry fish and grind to a coarse powder. The powder needs to be dry and not like a paste or chutney.
- Now grind green chillies, garlic, salt, coconut, dry fish, all into a coarse powder, dry, not like a paste or chutney.
- Spread the fried onions in a plate, then put the ground masala and mix well.
- Check the seasoning by tasting it, whether salt is enough or not.
- In villages, they use pestle and mortar and they grind the masala in a dry form as a coarse powder, which gives more taste.
- It will be very spicy, can be eaten with roti or paratha. can put ghee on khar and eat it to remove that heat of chillies.
- Reduce the chillies if you do not like spicy food.
- You can use any other dry fish which is salty.
- You can reduce garlic or avoid it.
- Keep the dry fish pieces while grinding to be coarse and some small bits should be there,so that while eating ,it gives you a good taste.
- If using grated coconut, always roast it at last and separately at medium or low flame to avoid coconut to burn.
- I have cooked khar with fresh frozen coconut and dry coconut also, both tasted good.