Sardines with lemon, chilli & paprika

by Selina Periampillai

Charred, flaky fish, Mauritian style

My uncle Sooresh sets off at dawn to get the best pick of fish for the day, most of which is cooked at his café-style restaurant on the east coast of Mauritius. As children we were the fortunate recipients of the surplus, cooked on the barbecue that evening on the beach or in my aunt’s kitchen. This recipe is inspired by those suppers.

I love flaking the charred fish between my fingers, squeezing over lashings of lemon and using my hands to scoop it up with some rice. This recipe relies upon very fresh fish, so it’s best to source the sardines from your fishmonger.


3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp paprika
1 lemon, zest and juice
2½cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
8 fresh sardines, cleaned and scaled
2 tbsp chopped coriander
Sea salt
Lemon wedges, to serve


Mix together the oil, paprika, lemon, ginger, garlic, chillies and ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper in a bowl. Using a sharp knife, make shallow slashes in the fish on both sides and rub the marinade all over and into the grooves.

Preheat the grill to a medium-high heat. Place the fish on a baking tray lined with lightly oiled foil and place under the grill for 3-5 mins on one side, then turn over onto the other for another 3-5 mins (keep a close eye on the fish as timings on oven grills will vary). Ensure the skin is slightly charred on both sides and the fish is cooked throughout.

Lay on a plate and serve scattered with coriander, a sprinkle of sea salt and a few lemon wedges. Eat with crusty bread or rice.

Recipe: Selina Periampillai
Image: Yuki Sugiura