Turmeric and Lemon scented Crunchy Anchovies

Anchovies sprinkled with turmeric and paprika

Growing up in Zimbabwe I ate little fish called ‘kapenta’ – basically a fesh water anchovy.  My mum would marinate them in lemon juice, sea salt and turmeric and deep fry them till they were cripsy.  So yum!

She served them alongside Sadza and Muriwo.  Sadza is a Zimbabwean staple similar to polenta made from white cornmeal and Muriwo is a spinach stew made with loads of onions and tomatoes.

The crispy crunchiness of the salty fish mixed with the tender soft spinach leaves against a delicately cooked ‘sadza‘ was lip-smackingly good!  It’s the kind of comfort food I cherished as a child and still do…. delicious!

Crispy Fried Anchovies

My son loves, loves, loves these little fish just as much as I do and recently I was delighted to know my daughter shared our enthusiasm for these crunchy little creatures.  Well, once she got passed the ‘Ew!  I’m not eating that!’ stage.  She realized how much fun we were having crunching away on these tiny morsels – heads tails and all – she had to give it a shot.

On a recent trip to the Asian market, I came across some wild caught anchovies.  You can imagine my joy.  I didn’t hesitate for a minute, I immediately tossed those babies into the cart.  I knew without a question what I was making for dinner that night!

However, I decided to serve the anchovies with Dhaar and Rice.

Raw Anchovies

Raw Anchovies


You will need

1 lb fresh anchovies, cleaned

1 1/2  teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 quart grapeseed oil, for frying (you may use oil of choice)

malt vinegar (optional)


To Make

Gently combine the anchovies with 1 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoon of lemon juice in a bowl.

Leave aside for about 10 minutes.

Anchovies with lemon and salt

Rinse the anchovies with water a couple of times and then pat them dry.

Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, paprika and ground turmeric to the washed anchovies.


Mix and marinate for 15 minutes.

Heat the grapeseed oil until hot and deep fry the anchovies in small batches for about 3 – 4 minutes or until crispy.

Drain on paper towels.



Drizzle with malt vinegar (optional).

Serve immediately with a hot bowl of rice and dhaar.


A word of caution.  Do be careful when frying the achovies.  Every now and then they tend to pop and burst, splattering oil here and there.

6 thoughts on “Turmeric and Lemon scented Crunchy Anchovies

  1. so curious! Will admit to thinking “ew” but I can also see how it could be “yum.” Love that your childhood memories are so different than mine and that you are passing it all on to your kids. Have said this many times before, but can learn so much from you 🙂 Curious, what Asian market did you shop?


    • Aw thanks Liz! So I stopped by Dragon Star Oriental Foods in Saint Paul, the one off Minehaha Avenue. I don’t usually shop there and thought I’d give it a shot since they have loads of African Groceries too.


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