I remember our mom having this ready for our dad when he came home from work after a long day with dhal (yellow split peas) and rice.. always had some sliced cucumber and water cress on the side. My king would be in dinner ecstasy! Fry dry as it was known in our home, wasn’t something me and my siblings looked forward too as our dad, as we hated the tiny little bones of the sardines. Something if fried correctly will have a slight crunch and can be eaten as well.
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic
2 sprig thyme
1 tablespoon parsley
3 leaves shado beni
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
pinch black pepper
1 lemon (juice) for the marinade
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
* about 2 cups of veg oil for frying
Notes: If you can’t source shado beni, use double the amount of cilantro. Remember to not use any of the seeds from the scotch bonnet pepper if you’re concerned about the raw heat. And do wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling these lethal peppers.
* Scale and gut the sardines (if it wasn’t already done for you at the fish market), then wash with the juice of a lime or lemon and cool water. Drain and get ready to marinate.
Place all the ingredients mentioned above (except the flour, curry powder and fish) into a blender or food processor and blend into a paste. Be prepared for a very refreshing (herbal) scent.. you’ll love it!
Pour the marinade onto the cleaned sardines and mix well. Try to get some into the belly cavity of the fish. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 2 hours. If you don’t have a blender, chop the ingredients very finely.
As the vegetable (any oil which can withstand high heat) oil heats on a medium flame, it’s time to make the seasoned flour to roll the marinated sardines in. Basically all you have to do is place the flour (all purpose) on a plate and mix in the curry powder (madras blend). Then coat each sardine in the seasoned flour. Try to keep some of the marinade on the fish as you dust them in the flour. Be sure to shake off excess flour.
Place in the hot oil and cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes… you’re looking for it to go golden in color and crispy. After about 7-8 minutes (I know it sounds like a long time to cook tiny fish.. but we want these crispy) remove, drain on paper towels and do try to serve as hot as you can.
There will be enough here for 3-4 people as a side dish and these crispy fried sardines can also double as a snack. Serve warm, with pepper sauce as a dip.. a garlic sauce would also go well.