Canned sardines – the perfect survival food

I prefer organic over non organic, fresh over canned or tinned products. I have never quiet understood the concept of canning well . My point was always  – “why we need to consume canned products when plenty of them is available fresh from farm or ocean in this case.”

In my country, people have not heard of canned products until couple of decades before. We love to buy fresh products , specially greens, vegetables and meat from the market, if possible daily, yes we have loads of time in hand to do that. Food technology has arrived much later in our country and has appealed to even fewer people. The only canning we knew was stocking the oil drenched pickles in porcelain jar. There are hardly one or two products that is being indigenously canned in our country, rest of them comes from overseas.

canned sardine indian
When the whole world is so completely absorbed and infatuated with canned products, then why in India people still did not developed an appetite for canned products ? There may be cultural reasons for that, health reasons may be, lack of understanding,  or simply we do not trust it. Moreover, canned products get the boost in its early days from the campers, an essential commodity if you are going out for camping. This is somewhat unheard of in India. But with time, things changes.

In my case, I have to travel half the world  to understand and appreciate the concept of canning. When hurricane strikes you precisely on Friday, and your pantry is not yet refilled, these canned sardines has saved us more than once. When you are travelling for weeks on roads, and you arrived late in a rural town where dinner time starts at 5 pm, you will thank the canned sardines many times.  Canned sardines  are the perfect survival food whatever the situation you are into.

More importantly they will not consume any space in your backpacks and in return will shower you with the goodness of omega 3, vitamins and other fatty acids. Sardines are good for you.

Simply eat them with your regular bread, or mashed them up and make a pate to go with your sandwich, throw some in pasta or even in ramen noodles,  add them in your garden fresh salad,  sardines are highly adaptive to any flavour.

As US has closed its last cannery at Maine, most of the canned sardines available in the markets are imported from European countries.  Some sardines are soaked in brine, others in olive oil and soybean oil. I prefer the olive oil one. In gourmet stores, you may find some seasoned sardines and anchovies (that is my another weakness), little expensive , but taste way better than the regular one, most of them are well seasoned and marinated in herb flavoured oil. They are good to be eaten straight from the container itself and can add variety to any dishes.

The recipe of canned sardines that I am going to share with you today is in Indian style, seasoned with oil, garlic and some spices, they are simply good over a bed of white rice.

Canned sardines - the perfect survival food
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Canned sardines are best survival food. This Indian style canned sardine recipe is good to go with rice, however you can mashed it up and add it to your regular sandwich.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 2
  • Canned Sardines - two tins of King Oscar in olive oil (Thats what I have used)
  • One red onion - finely chopped
  • Garlic - three four cloves, minced
  • Ginger - 1 tbsp minced
  • tomatoes - one medium
  • Lemon juice - 2 tsp
  • Cilantro - few fresh twigs
  • Olive oil - 1 tbsp
  • Cumin powder - 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Green chillies - one , finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan (it should not be smoking hot).
  2. Fry the garlic first, then add the onions, followed by ginger.
  3. Once the onions are translucent enough, add the tomatoes and wait till the tomatoes becomes mushy.
  4. Add the spices, green chillies and fry it little more, and add the sardines with their oil.
  5. Check for the seasonings, a bit of spicy and sweet, adjust accordingly.
  6. A good drizzle of lemon juice over it and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.
  7. Serve it over bed of rice or sandwich it between your favourite crusty bread.
  8. Drizzle some more seasoned oil, if wish to

Until next



  • Reply
    helene dsouza
    September 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Fantastic, I always wanted to make my own canned sardines. Hm.. In goa, parra mackerels are famous and much loved during the monsoon. Love that stuff too.

    • Reply
      September 18, 2013 at 11:24 am

      Thanks Helene, canned sardines are so adaptive in nature. Goa is just the right place to enjoy the seafood.

  • Reply
    September 15, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Lovely, my little one loves sardines, gonna try it sometime.

    • Reply
      September 18, 2013 at 11:28 am

      I am sure Asha, your kids will enjoy this. Removing the fine bones too is just a breeze.

  • Reply
    January 21, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    When you refer to red chili powder are you referring to cayenne pepper or something different ? Thank you

    • Reply
      Sukanya Ghosh
      January 23, 2019 at 4:29 pm

      Red chilli powder in Indian cuisine context refers to simply ground chili powder and we have lots of Indian varieties. Cayenne pepper is different. Indian chili powder – the Kashmiri variety is lowest on heat level but add rich red color to the curries, whereas Deggi mirch and madras chillies are on hotter sides. Use the one that is available to you and the one you that suits your palette.

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