Netholi Peera is an authentic traditional Kerala fish cuisine most popular in the southern parts of Kerala. For all you fish lovers, this delicious side-dish will definitely complement your meal. Netholi is the Malayalam word for Anchovy fish, and Peera generally means the dry extract of something. In our case the Peera is that of coconut, meaning the dry extract of coconut after all its juice(or milk) evaporates. Netholi Peera or Coconut simmered Anchovy gets it's name because this dish when completely prepared has the fish nicely blended with the dry coconut extract. Although a variety of small fishes, prawns or mussels can be used to make this dish, Anchovy or Netholi gives the best result and is the most popular.
Ingredients (serves 3)
- Netholi (Anchovies) - 200 gms
- Coconut - 1 cup (grated)
- Shallot (Cheriya ulli) - about 6 pieces
- Green chilli - 2 tsp
- Ginger - 1 tsp
- Garlic - 2 tsp
- Tamarind - 1 lemon size
- Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
- Chilli powder - 1 tsp
- Oil - 1 tbsp
- Curry leaves - few
- Salt - to taste
Making the Tamarind juice
Soak the tamarind in half a cup of water. Mix the tamarind well with water till it gets dissolves. Filter the contents to get the tamarind juice.
Netholi (or Anchovies) come in various sizes. If you have the bigger sized ones, you need to cut off its head and tail. Use a scissors to cut open the abdomen section lengthwise, and remove the waste. If the fish you have is small in size (like the ones we have used here), you only need to clean the abdomen section and wash thoroughly. There is no need to take out the head or tail.
Make a coarse paste out of the grated coconut, shallot, green chillis, ginger and garlic. You can use a mortar and pestle for doing this, an electric blender also will do. Make sure no water is added to make this paste.In its traditional form this curry (most Kerala non-vegetarian curries for that matter) is prepared in a Munchatti or a pan made out of mud. Munn means mud and Chatti means pan, thus the name Munchatti. Dishes prepared in such pans definitely gets an added rich taste. Take the Netholi in the pan, and transfer the paste we prepared into the pan. Next add turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt, mix everything gently. Add the tamarind juice and curry leaves to the mixture.
Cover the pan with a lid and place it on medium flame. Let it to cook for around 5 minutes. As the lid is tightly covered, more than half of the water would have got evaporated by now. We would now have the fish almost cooked with the dish starting to become dry. Remove the lid and drizzle few drops of oil and mix gently. Check for salt and add as necessary. Cover the pan again with the lid, this time 3/4th closed. Continue on medium flame for another 2-3 minutes. Next, change the heat to low flame, take out the lid completely and stir the contents gently for another 2 minutes till we get a nice dry output.
Serve this delicious side-dish to complement your favorite meal. 🙂