Crispy Fish Skin Relish

Ever had one of those days when there’s simple dal-chawal for lunch or dinner, and you wish there was just something by way of meat or fish, but there’s no time or any number of reasons?

A few days ago, we ordered in a whole Indian Basa, which I cleaned and from which everything edible was retrieved, including bones, skin and some visceral fat I found.

The skin can be frozen and thawed whenever needed. In a deep freezer, properly sealed, it should last a few weeks.

That afternoon, I mixed together a watery paste of turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt, thoroughly coated the skin with it, and let it lie in the fridge for the remainder of the day. In the evening, we fried it in some mustard oil with some onions and it was a delicious accompaniment to an otherwise simple dinner.


  • Fish skin (smooth, or scales removed), cut into one inch squares or strips
  • Turmeric / haldi powder
  • Chilli powder
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Onions, sliced
  • Mustard oil


  1. Mix together turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt and water to form a thin paste.
  2. Mix the fish skins well with this paste and refrigerate for about 15 – 20 minutes or longer.
  3. Heat a little mustard oil in a pan
  4. Add the skins one by one to hot oil on a high flame. The temperature of the oil will go down as you add the skins.
  5. After adding the last piece, flip over all the skins one by one. Yes, this is a pain, but is needed so we ensure every piece is really crisp and chewy – that’s the way we like it.
  6. Reduce the flame and cook covered until the skins are crisp.
  7. Increase flame, add onions and cook till just beginning to brown, but still crunchy.
  8. Serve hot or warm, with simple meals like dal-chawal etc.