More than just food

Dried Anchovies Gravy

Dried Anchovies Gravy

Dried Anchovies Gravy

In Tamil known as Nethili Karuvadu Kuzhambu, this dried anchovies gravy is a favourite in our villages because dried fish are very popular in Tamilnadu. My Mom’s favourite because of which it magically increases the appetite and makes me eat a few bites extra and still don’t feel full.

Shallots are used instead of regular onions and garlic adds the aroma with the dried fish. The dried fish is rinsed well before cooking and tamarind is soaked and crushed with hands to make tamarind water.

Hot Gravy – adjust the taste

This is the hot gravy because we in India are used to hot and spicy taste. If you are new to Indian “spiciness” and trying this recipe for the first time, then you might want to adjust the chilli, salt and sourness in the recipe.


Dried anchovies – 100 gm (rinsed well and strained)
Shallots – 150 gm (crushed)
Tomatoes – 150 gm (quartered)
Garlic – 30 cloves (crushed)

Eggplants – 150 gm (cut equal to tomatoes)
Salt to taste
Sambar masala – 4 heaped tsp or to taste
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Tamarind – a big Indian lemon size (soaked and extracted)
Water – for the desired consistency

Oil – 3 to 5 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek – 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Orid dal (black lentil) – 1/2 tsp
Kari leaves – 2 strings
Asafoetida – a pinch


Peel shallots and garlic and crush them roughly with the mortar and pestle. Quarter the tomatoes, cut the eggplants equal to the size of the tomatoes. Separate the Kari leaves from the strings. Keep the tempering ingredients ready because you want to be very quick in the tempering process.

Nethili Karuvadu Kuzhambu
Dried Anchovies Gravy, popularly known as Nethili Karuvadu Kuzhambu in Tamil. Served with love from the villages of South India. The gravy is hot, spicy, aromatic and soured from tamarind and perfect with rice and making any boring meal into a feast.
1 Ingredients
Going clockwise – Small onions (shallots), 2 eggplants, dried anchovies (Nethili Karuvadu), kari leaves, crushed garlic.
2 Spices
Asafoetida, Tamarind water, mustard, fenugreek, urad dal and cumin,  sambar masala and turmeric powder.
3 Tempering
Let’s start with the tempering. Heat 5 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add mustard and wait till popped. Now lower the flame and add cumin, fenugreek, urad dal and kari leaves.
Saute Onions
Add roughly crushed small onions and sauté until half cooked.
Add tomatoes and sauté.
Add roughly crushed garlic. You can add garlic paste for more flavour.
Add eggplants and sauté until it blends with the masala.
Dried Anchovies - Nethili Karuvadu
Now add rinsed and strained dried anchovies. Nethili karuvadu in Tamil. Be careful when you rinse them as they are very soft. Once added the dried fish, sauté very gently.
Added Spices and Seasoning
Add spices and seasoning. Added sambar masala, turmeric powder and salt to taste.
Spiced Veggies and fish
Reduce the flame. Mix the veggies and the fish with the masala.
Added Water
Added tamarind water and the necessary amount of water.
14 Boiling
Higher the flame and bring it to boil.
16 Closed Lid Cooking
Once boiled, lower the flame, close the lid and let it simmer for another 10 minutes until the eggplants are cooked well and the raw smell disappears. Best served hot with rice in the afternoon.

Nethili-Anchovies Gravy

Loved this recipe? Please try and let me know your version, I will be so happy to try. Enjoy! Have a great day 😀


Step 1 & 2:
Heat 5 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add mustard and wait till popped. Add cumin, fenugreek, urad dal and Kari leaves. Immediately add the onions to protect the tempered ingredients from burning and saute until half cooked.

Step 3:
Add tomatoes and cooked until they can be mashed with the ladle.

Step 4 & 5:
Add garlic, give a quick mix, add eggplants and saute for 2 minutes.

Step 5 & 6:
Lower the flame. Add the dried fish, turmeric, sambar masala and salt. Saute until well blended like in the image above.

Step 7 & 8:
Add tamarind water and plain water to the desired consistency. Stir gently and bring to simmer on high flame. Lower the flame and cook closed lid with another 10 minutes or more until the eggplants are cooked and the raw smell disappears. Serve hot!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *