Khar is a relatively unexplored cuisine of India. Consisting of dry fish cooked with spices and herbs, Khar is a common dish found in many vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian restaurants across the country. In fact, the dish has been enthusiastically embraced by many as an alternative to non-vegetarian food.

Khar is a spicy dry fish curry, a very popular dish from Maharashtra. The main ingredients are fresh fish or dried fish, and spices. The recipe is simple enough to be cooked in a few hours. Khar is typically eaten with steamed rice.

Khar is a simple but highly satisfying dish in which a variety of dry fish – tuna, mackerel, sardines, salmon, and bonito – are marinated in a spicy, garlicky, and mildly tangy mixture of coriander leaves, mustard seeds, green chillies, tamarind paste, and chilli powder. Khar can be enjoyed as a meal by itself, or can be used as a base for many other dishes, such as various types of rotis, rice and dal, or a vegetarian meal.

Green chilies, onion, and a dry fish combination are used to make Khar, a spicy and fiery meal. Khar is a traditional meal from Anantapur (Andhra Pradesh), which my grandmother, relatives, and mother make at home using various methods. My grandma makes khar using a pestle and mortar, whereas my mother uses a grinder or mixer; both produce distinct flavors from the same components. When my father visits his mother’s house, he always requests khar, a very homey meal that is extremely spicy and hot and is not offered in restaurants. The name implies that this meal is fiery and spicy, but the dry fish elevates it to a new level. This meal likewise includes a small number of components. Because dry fish is naturally salty, just a little amount of salt is needed.

Dry fishes such as anchovies (Nathili Meen in Tamil), ribbon fish (Vaalai Meen in Tamil), and king fish are available on the market (Vangaram Meen in Tamil). Fishermen hang these fish to dry in the sun near the beach. As a result, cleaning the fish with water to remove sand (dust) and excess salt is critical.

Ribbon fish or khar king fish may be used for khar king fish. You may just cook the fish in oil, shallow or tava fry, as is. There’s no need to season the dried fish with chilli pepper or marinade, as we do with fresh fish. Khar is delicious with roti (chapathi), jari ki roti, or jowar roti (jowar flour roti) (sorghum flour).

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. oil
  • sliced onion (large) – 2
  • 6 to 7 green chilies (long size)
  • 40 to 50 grams dry fish (pieces) (King fish or Ribbon fish)
  • a pinch of salt (to taste)
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves
  • 40 g or 5 tbsp dry coconut or fresh grated coconut

Method

  • Set aside the onions, which have been sliced. You may use shredded coconut or tiny bits of dried or fresh coconut.
  • I chose garlic cloves that were thicker and larger in size. If you have young children, add 6 to 7 cloves extra.
  • You may utilize any kind of fish, such as king or ribbon fish.
  • Wash the fish first to eliminate any dirt (sand) or salt from the dried fish.
  • You don’t want the oil to splatter on you when frying the dry fish in oil, so wipe it with tissue paper to remove/absorb the extra water.
  • Take a kadai or pan, pour 1 tbsp oil, and fry the fish on both sides till golden brown. No need to add salt or spices, simply cook it as is.
  • If necessary, sprinkle some oil in between. Remove the chicken and set it aside on a dish after it has been thoroughly cooked on both sides.
  • Heat the same kadai or another pan in which the fish was cooked. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook until they are golden and caramelized. Remove the item and set it away.
  • In the same pan or tava, roast the green chilies, coconut, and garlic until they become a roasted color, as seen in the image. When it’s done roasting, turn it off and set it aside. It should be cooked over a medium heat.
  • To make the coarse powder, first crush the coconut, then add the green chilies, garlic, salt, and dried fish. The powder should be dry, not paste or chutney-like.
  • Green chilies, garlic, salt, coconut, and dried fish should all be ground into a coarse powder, not a paste or chutney.
  • On a dish, spread the fried onions, then add the ground masala and stir thoroughly.
  • Check the seasoning by tasting it to see if it needs more salt.
  • In villages, people use a pestle and mortar to pound the masala into a coarse powder that has more flavor.
  • It’ll be hot and spicy, and it’ll go well with roti or paratha. To reduce the heat from the chilies, smear ghee on the khar and consume it.

Notes

  • If you don’t enjoy spicy cuisine, cut down on the chillies.
  • You may use any salty dry fish for this.
  • Garlic may be reduced or avoided.
  • When grinding the dried fish pieces, keep them coarse and leave some tiny parts so that when you eat it, it tastes nice.
  • If you’re using grated coconut, roast it last and separately over a medium or low heat to prevent burning it.
  • I’ve made khar using both fresh frozen coconut and dried coconut, and both were delicious.

 

A few weeks ago, our nose was suddenly assaulted by the smell of a fresh Khar masala. Yes, the popular spice mixture that is used to flavor several types of fish dishes–including the famous Fish Curry–has been in the news lately. Of course, the fact that the spice mix is made from dried spices, rather than a fresh one, was noticed instantly.. Read more about apollo fish and let us know what you think.