Sardine Thoran (Indian Sardine Stir-fry)


My favorite way to eat sardines: this Indian sardine stir-fry!

Sardine Thoran - Indian Spiced Sardines

What is Sardine Thoran?

I’m guessing you haven’t heard of sardine thoran before. This stir-fry is a south Indian Keralite dish. Think: stir-fried sardines coated in delicious, aromatic Indian spices! The spices and coconut help mask the strong fishy flavor of sardines. Even if you’re not typically a fan of sardines, give this dish a try!

If you’ve never heard of the word “thoran” – it’s basically just stir-fried chopped veggies (or in this case, sardines) with a mixture of coconut, onion and spices. It’s a method of cooking that’s typically reserved for vegetables (I have several veggie thoran recipes on my blog: cabbage, zucchini, beets – even butternut squash). This recipe is known as a meen thoran, meaning fish thoran – though it is one mean thoran 😏 (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Sardine Thoran - Indian Spiced Sardines

When I was pregnant with Tony, I made sure to make this sardine stir-fry at least once or twice every trimester. By my third trimester, I actually started craving sardines – which is very strange for me. I’d just mash them up, mix them with mayo and eat them on crackers. Now, I’m back to only eating sardines in the form of this sardine thoran.

You can always replace sardines with another type of fish if you really want to: canned tuna works well too! I almost always make this with sardines though because it’s the only way I can get myself to happily eat sardines, whereas I can eat tuna in many different ways (see my tuna recipes on the blog).

Sardine Thoran - Indian Spiced Sardines

This is a recipe from my first eBook, South Asian Persuasion: 100+ Paleo Indian recipes. If you love this dish and are looking for more gluten-free, paleo-friendly recipes – then be sure to check it out!

Sardine Thoran - Indian Spiced Sardines

Sardine Thoran

Sardine Thoran - Indian Spiced Sardines

Sardine Thoran

This stir-fry is my favorite way to eat sardines! The spices and coconut help mask the strong fishy flavor of sardines. Even if you’re not typically a fan of sardines, give this thoran a try. You can also use canned tuna in place of the sardines.
5 from 7 reviews
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Servings 2 -3



  • Melt coconut oil in a pan over medium heat, then add mustard seeds.
  • Once they begin to splutter, add the onions, garlic, ginger, serrano pepper and curry leaves. Mix well and after 2 minutes, add the remaining ingredients.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high heat and stir-fry for 5 minutes.


  • You can find finely shredded coconut in the freezer aisle of any Indian grocery store.
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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


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  1. Susan says

    Wow! I just made this – the pan still sits dirty on the stove. It’s delcious! Full of fresh flavor. I highly recommend.
    Thanks for your website – great recipes.

  2. Krista Bland says

    5 stars
    This was amazing. I love sardines anyway but have had some sardines in marinara that I don’t care for as much as the oil-packed ones. The coconut really did dull the fishy flavor as did the spices. I would be interested in trying this with cheaper sardines(I used Wild Planet) to see if it helps.

    Thank you for sharing!

  3. Joel says

    5 stars
    I’m so psyched about this recipe. Forever have I wanted to like sardines. You’ve shown me the way. Haha Thank you very much for sharing the recipe. -Joel

  4. Pat says

    5 stars
    I took your advice to try this, even though I was sure I would hate it. Oh my – it is delicious! One question – do you use only the sardines, or do you also include the olive oil from the can?

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