Ethnic Edibles, Seafood

Tumbok Tumbok Ikan Bilis

Posted by devagi

What do I remember when I think of my grandmother’s cooking?  It is this very simple dish that we called “tumbok tumbok ikan bilis” in Malay language at home.  An Indian male friend of mine told me that his aunty used to make such a dish and they called it இடி நெத்திலி meaning pounded dried anchovies in Tamil.  It see a similarity with the Kerala 𝗡𝗲𝘁𝗵𝗼𝗹𝗶 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗵𝗶 – except that it has grated coconut and is tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves.  Which ever way it is done, the end result should be a mouth-watering appetizer! Or shall I call it a condiment? Try this dish and tell me your experience.

200 g medium dried anchovies (ikan bilis)

Oil for deep frying

100 g shallot, sliced

4 red bird’s eye chillies (chilli padi), sliced

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1/2 teaspoon salt or more

2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice


1.         Wash and pat dry the dried anchovies.

2.         Heat oil for deep frying in a pan and deep fry the anchovies till crispy.  Drain onto kitchen paper.

3.         Use about 1 tablespoon of the oil from above and sauté the shallots, chillies and garlic cloves very lightly.

4.         Let it cool down.

5.         Place the sautéed ingredients in a mortar and using a pestle pound it coarsely.

6.         Add in the salt and the fried anchovies and pound coarsely too.

7.         Add in the lime juice, combine the ingredients together.  Adjust salt if necessary and serve as a condiment with steaming hot rice!

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