Bhutai Gassi (Sardines in a Mangalorean gravy)

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Bhutai Gassi served in a white bowl with a red napkin on the side and a green bowl with jaargey

Most weekends, my husband makes fish on Saturdays, and I make Kori Gassi on Sundays, and we have been following this schedule for a while now. My husband takes great pride in making the gassi be it Mackerel (Bangude), Sardines (Bhutai), or good old Tilapia.

But this weekend, we had a situation – the masala that Maami (my mother-in-law) had made had run out and my husband wasn’t sure how to make the base masala. I very kindly shared with him the recipe for Kundapur masala powder, but he was running out of time as cleaning the Sardines was taking time so he asked me to help out. I promised to, but on one condition – I would do everything myself (so that I could post the recipe here ;). He didn’t seem particularly thrilled with the idea because he thought I wouldn’t make the gassi as well as he makes (REALLY??), but I stuck to my ground, and finally, after “trying” to micromanage the cooking process, he gave up and let me do my own thing. The resultant Bhutai Gassi was phenomenal. Though he did not admit to it, and when I pushed him for his feedback, he mumbled something like “one of the best” I have had so far, I will go as far as to say that it was better than the ones he makes (Shh!! don’t tell him, I said that).

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Bhutai Gassi served in a white bowl with a red napkin on the side
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5 from 3 votes

Bhutai Gassi

Here's an easy recipe to make Bhutai Gassi or Sardine's curry the Mangalorean way!
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4


Base Masala

  • 7-8 pieces of jaargey or kokum or 1/2 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • ½ of medium-sized onion chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Mangalorean curry masala if you want make it from scratch you need 10 byadgi chillies,1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1/4 teaspoon methi seeds fried in a teaspoon of oil and ground to a paste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • ½ cup coconut grated

For tempering

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig of kadipatta curry leaves
  • ½ of medium sized onion finely cut
  • 1 pound of sardines / bhutai ~ 10 of them, cleaned
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger finely grated
  • 2 green chilies slit lengthwise (optional)


  • Soak jaargey or kokum overnight (if possible) or soak it in hot water for 15 minutes. Remove the jaargey and reserve the liquid (filter it, if required).
  • For the Base Masala – Grind garlic, onions, coconut, salt, pepper along with Kundapur masala powder and the reserved liquid from jaargey or (kokum or tamarind paste) with a little water to make it into a fine paste.
  • For tempering – Heat oil in a medium sized kadhai or wok on medium heat and add mustard seeds to it. When they start spluttering add kadipatta to it. Let it fry for around 20 seconds and then add onions and fry them till they are translucent.
  • Add the ground paste to the onions and add 1 cup of water or enough water to make it into a curry like consistency.
  • When the gravy starts to boil, add the cut fish,green chilies and ginger paste, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook till it is done [Note – Sardines are very delicate, so do not stir the curry with a ladle while cooking, instead shake the kadhai gently with the help of tongs or cloth to stir.)
  • Serve hot with rice.
Read the post…For helpful information on ingredient swaps, storage tips, meal prep ideas, and variations!

Disclaimer: Approximate nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.


Calories: 320kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 20gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 80mgPotassium: 387mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 175IUVitamin C: 11.5mgCalcium: 342mgIron: 1.7mg
Diet: Pescatarian
Course: Entree
Method: Stovetop
Keywords: Sardines curry
Cuisine: Mangalorean
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  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for a great recipe!I have made it several times and it always turns out perfect.I love your blog!