Karuvadu varuval (dry fish fry)

Dry fish fry (karuvadu varuval in Tamil, sukhi machi fry in Hindi) is not every ones cup of tea, because of its smell and taste. But I love the taste and about the smell, aim used to it. Whenever my grandparents come to Chennai, my grandfather love to visit fish market in the morning and I was the one who used to use to give him company. We always go by walk by talking to each other, as the market was not so far and it will be my school holidays. As soon as I enter the fish market I used to close my nose with my fingers, as I cannot tolerate the smell of those fishes, especially the dried fish but now iam used to it and I love to visit markets.

Dry fish (karuvadu or sukhi macchi ) is very salty as it is marinated in sea salt (fish mongers rubs the fresh fish with sea salt) and left to dry in the sun like how we do for pickles. Fish mongers sell variety of dry fishes like Anchovy (nethili meen in tamil), King fish ( vangaram meen), Ribbon fish(Vallai meen), which we buy and mostly used . It is not eaten like any fresh fish fry at our home, few pieces of fish is enough, like a pickle it is eaten with other side dishes. If dry fish is fried, it can be eaten with simple dal and rice. It is cooked without adding salt and chilli to it. It is a very simple and easy dish.

At our home when ever dry fish is bought, we prepare it in many forms like frying, making khar (dry fish grounded with spices and mixed with fried onions) and dry fish curry. You can keep it in the cupboard for many days or months, if ants are there then can keep it in the fridge.

Preparation time: 20 mins (soaking time)

Cooking time: 10 mins

Cuisine: South Indian

Serves: 2 to 3

Spiciness: Mild


  • Dry fish (vaala meen/ribbon fish) pieces – 6 to 7
  • Oil – 2 tbsp or as required


  • First wash the fish, so that you can remove the sand (dirt) or any excess salt comes out, then soak the fish in water for sometime 20min, then wash it again and keep it aside.
  • 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 tava/frying pan and add 1 tbsp oil. When it gets warm, place the fish and fry it. After about 1 min, turn the dry fish pieces and cook.
  • You can see in the picture , the colour of the dry fish changes to brown colour.
  • Cook well on both sides, in between turn the fish pieces, when it is cooked well, can switch it off. no need to add salt or any masala, just fry it like that itself.
  • Cook it on medium flame.
  • In between, can drizzle some oil ,if needed. When cooked well on both sides, can remove and keep it aside in a plate.
  • After frying the fish, it will not be soft like fresh fish, it will be crispy or little bit hard, the texture. That’s why it is eaten little like a pickle, small piece of dry fish is enough for a member, can be eaten more but depends on you.
  • Serve this with plain rice and dal.


  • If you want can marinate the dry fish with little bit of chilli powder.
  • You can use dry king fish pieces instead as well.

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