Devils nethili (anchovies) fry

Nethili (anchovies) a very famous and tasty fish in Chennai (Tamil Nadu) and other places south part of India. In Chennai some of the famous restaurants it is served like Pandayas, Anjappar, Velu military hotel and many more, where ever you get Nethili fry. It is eaten fresh or dry ones, but in other countries, supermarket we can found it in tins or jars also (soaked in oil), it’s used in Italy, UK, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and other parts of the country.

Nethili (anchovies) fry in devils style is a name I have given to this dish, as I got tempted and wanted to make immediately as soon as I tasted this in one of my favourite restaurant Ahaa Dosa(London). On Saturdays and Sundays they make some speciality dishes, one among them was devils Nethili fry, as soon as I heard the name I ordered the dish. It was so appetizing and mouth-watering, I couldn’t resist for other dish to come. I immediately tasted it, the first bit went in my mouth, I started thinking what spices went inside, I loved it, spicy, fish was juicy and soft from inside and crispy from outside coated with some spices or sauce may be. I do not know the reason of name devil, may be spicy and dark. The nest day I prepared this Devils Nethili fry, for my family, according to my taste. There are so many spices and methods, with which you can experiment. In this recipe I have given some ideas too how to prepare it with different spices for this dish, I have debone the fish, but it is not a must, when fried it will be crunchy(only for small size fish). Iam sorry for the pictures too as it is not so attractive but belive me it was tasty.


  1. Anchovies (Nethili) - 400 gms
  2. Marinade

  3. Ginger and garlic paste – 1 tbsp
  4. Chilli powder – 1 tsp
  5. Coriander powder – 2 tsp
  6. Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  7. Pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
  8. Salt - as per taste
  9. Sambar powder (any brand) – 1 tsp
  10. Maida – 2 tbsp
  11. Corn flour – 3 tbsp
  12. Lemon juice (optional) – 2 tbsp
  13. Method 1

  14. Onion (small, sliced) – 1
  15. Green chillies (sliced) – 2
  16. Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  17. Chilli sauce – 1 tbsp
  18. Tomato ketchup – 1 tbsp
  19. Curry leaves – 15
  20. Method 2

  21. Onion (sliced) – 1/2
  22. Curry leaves – 15
  23. Green chilli (sliced) – 1
  24. Salt - as per taste
  25. Lemon juice


    Debone the fish

  1. First clean the fish by removing the bone as shown in the picture.
  2. Just pull the middle part of the bone of fish, it will come out easily or can cook with the bone too. You can view my Nethili (anchovies) deboning.
  3. Marinate

  4. Put all the ingredients in a bowl or plate, mix little water only, if needed, as it should be thick paste.
  5. Add the anchovies, mix well with the marinade, cover it with a lid or cling film, refrigerate for 3 hrs or overnight.
  6. Remove it from the fridge 1/2 hr before frying it.
  7. Deep frying

  8. Heat enough oil for deep frying anchovies, when hot, put one anchovy fish and see whether the oil is hot enough for the fish, as it should not be very hot, it can quickly burn the fish.
  9. Place few pieces of fish 3 to 4 pieces according to their size and vessel, fry it till brown and crispy, done on both side, it will take 3 to 4 mins.
  10. Fry it in batches, until all the anchovies are fried well and crispy.
  11. Place it on a tissue paper in a serving plate.
  12. Can be eaten directly or you can add a few drops of lemon juice on it.
  13. Method 1

  14. Heat the kadai or pan, add oil, when hot, add onions, curry leaves and green chillies, stir well till soft and transparent.
  15. Add chilli powder, chilli sauce and tomato ketchup, salt, stir for 1 to 2 min on medium or low flame.
  16. Add few portion of fried anchovies as per the sauce, mix well, till the sauce is incorporated well with the fried anchovies, switch it off.
  17. Method 2

  18. Heat the kadai or pan, add oil when hot, add onion, curry leaves and green chillies, stir well till soft and transparent, add a pinch of salt too OR you can deep fry all the ingredients for the crispy texture.
  19. Pour this mixture on few fried portion of the fried anchovies, mix well.
  20. Serve it on a plate with lemon wedges and enjoy.


  1. Sometimes I marinade the fish with chilli powder, pepper powder, plain flour and deep fry it.
  2. Can deep fry mint and coriander leaves with onion, curry leaves, it gives good flavour and aroma, but be careful while frying as oil can split on you.