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Nethili Karuvadu Thokku / Dry Anchovies Thokku

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Till few years ago, I was of the opinion that dry anchovies thokku would be prepared only to pair ragi balls or ragi sankatti. If you are yet to try that combo, it is a good time to try it. This is the wonderful combination to die for. Even the one who didn’t like the ragi sankatti will develop a taste for this dish.

My grandma who doesn’t eat non-veg prepares an awesome thokku. But my mom who also doesn’t eat non-veg doesn’t cook it. After my grandma, my MIL prepares a wonderful thokku similar to my grandma. Except the cleaning part, it is easy to prepare this thokku. Sometimes when I run out of ragi I used to prepare it too to pair it with rice. This time, we had it with Samai rice and Egg pepper roast.

Basic Information:
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 3


Dry anchovies / Nethili karuvadu – 1/2 heaped cup (See notes 1)
Oil – 2 tablespoons
Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Curry leaves – 1 spring
Red onion – 1 no, large size, finely chopped
Tomato – 2 nos., medium size, cubed
Green chillies – 1 no., slit
Sambar masala – 2 tablespoons
Salt – to taste (See notes 2)
Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Water – 1/2 cup (See notes 3)
Coriander leaves – 1 tablespoon, finely chopped (optional)


1) Soak dry anchovies in hot water for 15 minutes. Pluck off head and tail. Wash it using a clean water at least thrice.

2) Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add curry leaves and let it become crisp.
3) Add onion and saute it till it becomes soft and translucent.

4) Add tomato and saute again. Add green chilli. Cook till the tomato becomes mushy.
5) Add sambar masala and turmeric powder. Stir well for few minutes without burning it.

6) When the raw smell of masala goes off, add water and let it boil well.
7) When it starts thickening, add cleaned anchovies to it.

8) Once the anchovies cooked, taste and add the salt if require.
9) Continue cooking till the oil oozes out from the thokku and thokku reaches thick consistency.

10) Garnish with Coriander leaves and serve with hot rice.


1)  I chose little bigger than medium variety for my thokku. Small one also go good for this thokku.

2) Add salt only after adding anchovies since dry anchovies itself having some salt content in it.
3) For very rich taste, reduce water quantity and add more oil.

4) Adjust spice level as per your taste.

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