Saturday, 22 October 2011




     1)    Fish, preferably anchovies (veloori/chooda or nattal) or mackerel (ayala) – 1 kg.

     2)    Onions – 500 gm.
     3)    Coconut oil – 100 ml.
     4)    Ginger – a 2 inch piece
     5)    Hot green chilies – 4 Nos.
     6)    Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
     7)    Tamarind – 20 gm.
     8)    Hot red chili powder – 2 tablespoons
     9)     Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
     10)     Salt – 2 teaspoon

To Cook

          Clean the fish removing the head, the fins, the scales and the guts. If you are using mackerel, cut into 2 or 3 pieces, but the anchovies need not be cut. Bones are not to be removed, but picked out as you eat. Marinate the clean and washed fish with 2 teaspoons of salt.

          Put the tamarind in a small bowl with 50 ml. of water. Squeeze to leech out the paste. Sieve the tamarind water and add to the fish. Peel the onions and the ginger and chop to super fine pieces. Put one quarter of these chopped pieces into the vessel holding the marinating fish. Split the green chilies and add to the fish. Pull out the leaves from the sprigs of curry leaves and throw them in.

          Set a thick vessel on the stove. Pour in the coconut oil and tip in the rest of the chopped onions and ginger. Stir frequently until the onions are nicely caramelized (browned without burning). Tip in the chili powder and the turmeric powder and stir for 30 seconds. Now pour in 500 ml. of water. When it comes to a boil, gently tip in the fish along with its marinate. Allow it to boil again.

          If you are cooking anchovies, switch off the heat and allow cooling naturally for you do not want the fish to be overcooked. If you are cooking mackerel, boil for a minute or so longer for the fish to cook nicely and switch off. Taste and add more salt if required.

          Serve only after an hour for the phanna upkari takes at least that long to come together and to give you the perfect flavor. Serve with rice.


     1)    In the ancient method, Konkanis did not use chili powder for fish curry. Instead, 150 gm. Of dry hot red chilies were roasted in coconut oil. These roasted chilies and the tamarind were ground to fine paste in a hand operated wet grinder which gave even tastier results.

     2)   Phanna upkari can keep safely for up to 2 or 3 days which increases the taste, but you have to boil it once in the morning and once at night.

     3)    While using mackerel, you can substitute the tamarind with 150 gm. of tomatoes to get a better taste. Tomatoes do not go that well with anchovies. So you need to use tamarind only.

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