Sankara fish fry

Sankara meen varuval (in Tamil) or Red snapper fish fry is a very popular and frequently cooked in South Indian style in our home. We always use sankara, which we call Aarass ki Macchi at home, more for frying purpose. Very rarely we use it for curry. Each home has their own recipe of fish fry. This recipe is from my mother in laws. She adds more spices for the fried fish and gives it a very spicy masala for the South Indian style fish fry. This recipe is entirely different from my mother’s recipe and in taste also. Apart from fry, she prepares curry, rasam and just plain rice, heaven, what else you need. This combo goes in every house and the whole family enjoys it.

You can take any fish for this recipe, for fry like sea bass, king fish, snapper, tilapia, red mullet, rohu and other fishes which you get near place, all are white flesh fish. Mostly we use king fish (vanjaram in Tamil) and Red snapper (sankara in Tamil). As I have said in my previous recipes that there are varieties of fish fry recipes, among them is this sankara fish fry. I always try to make variations in fry or curry, to have a different taste. You can fry it on tava or shallow fry. Enjoy this South Indian style fish fry by cooking in your home.

Preparation time: 10 mins (excluding cleaning the fish and time required for marination)

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Cuisine: Tamil nadu

Serves: 3 to 4

Spiciness: Medium hot


  • Fish (snapper/sankara) – 1 kg or 6 medium sized
  • Marinade

  • Chilli powder – 1 tbsp
  • Ginger and garlic paste – 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 2 tbsp
  • Fennel powder (saunf) – 1 to 2 tsp
  • Pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - as per requirement
  • Rice flour – 3 tsp
  • Corn flour – 1 tsp
  • Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
  • Water – 1 to 2tbsp (or as per requirement)
  • Oil - for frying


  • Apply the marinate on the fish pieces, cover and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.
  • Take the fish out from the fridge about 1/2 hour in advance before frying.
  • Frying the fish

  • Heat the tava or pan. Add sufficient oil to shallow fry the fish. When hot, place the marinated fish, one by one and cook for about 2 mins, so that the marinade is well attached to the fish.
  • Cook the fish on medium heat, turn the fish and let it cook for about 2 mins.
  • After a few minutes, turn the fish pieces again. Give 1 1/2 to 2 mins time gap.
  • Cook the fish until it is cooked well. The coating becomes a dark reddish in colour and crispy as well.
  • Turn the fish in between and fry. Fry the fish evenly. Do not turn the fish many times. The fish gets cooked fast. When the fish is cooked it becomes firm.
  • Fry all the fish pieces in batches and when finished, place them on a plate.
  • In the end while frying the last batch of fish, if you want can add few curry leaves in the same oil, just for garnishing. The crispy and crunchy taste of curry leaves taste delicious.
  • Serve this delicious sankara fish fry with onion rings and lemon wedge.


  • Try to use tongs for turning the fish.
  • The cooking time depends on its size and thickness of the fish. Adjust cooking times accordingly.
  • When the fish is cooked on one side, only then turn the fish.
  • When the oil is hot, only then put the fish on tava. Otherwise, if it is cold, the masala will get stuck to the pan and come out.
  • Cook on a medium heat, not very high. Reduce the flame once the oil is hot.
  • You can use boneless small fish pieces and cook as per its size.

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