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One-pot chilli pilchards

Jul 1, 2024 | Mains, Seafood


One-pot chilli pilchards

Serves 6

Recipe developed for Cooking from the heart SA, Pharma Dynamics.

Save on dishes and prepare this easy one-pot supper, full of winter flavours. It’s so quick to prepare and is ready in just a few steps. People often ask if I remove the soft bones in pilchards. The answer is no, never! They are soft enough to mash and great to eat, as they’re packed with calcium. Pilchards are also a wonderful source of healthy fats, so do include these in your meals regularly. My famous fishcake recipe is also made with a tin of pilchards and is always a hit. So if you are looking for more ideas with a tin of pilchards, you can try this oven bake (Sardyne-gebak) or click to get the Fish cake recipe here (Maklikste viskoekies.


2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

1 medium carrot, grated

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 small red chilli, whole, or chopped if preferred

1 tsp (5 ml) mild curry powder, or more to taste

1 tsp (5 ml) paprika

1 tbsp (15 ml) ground cumin

1 tbsp (15 ml) dried mixed herbs

2 cups (500 ml) strong Rooibos tea

1 cup (250 ml) uncooked red lentils

1 x 50 g (50 ml) sachet tomato paste

1 x 410 g tin chopped tomatoes

1 x 400 g tin pilchards in tomato sauce

1 x 400 g tin red kidney beans, drained

black pepper to taste

fresh Italian parsley or coriander leaves and lemon wedges to serve


  1. Heat oil over medium temperature in a large saucepan and fry onions and carrot until soft. Stir in garlic, chilli, spices and herbs and fry for a few more minutes.
  2. Add Rooibos tea and lentils and simmer, with a lid, for 10-12 minutes or until lentils are almost tender.
  3. Stir in tomato paste and chopped tomatoes. Add pilchards in tomato sauce, with the bones and gently flake fish into chunks. Stir through gently and add beans.
  4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with pepper to taste and serve with fresh herbs and lemon wedges.


  1. Replace pilchards with any fish of your choice, like tinned tuna or mackerel or even leftover white fish.
  2. Substitute the red lentils for brown lentils and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
One pot chilli pilchards
One pot chilli pilchards
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