Updated: Apr 26
Sri Lankan food is filled with curries, sambals, and a host of other dishes that are unique to this beautiful island. In recent years we are seeing the arrival of sri Lankan restaurants in larger cities, New York, San Francisco and others, but this cuisine is still very unknown. Here is a primer on this cuisine.
This fish curry is absolutely fabulous. Tons of flavor are packed into the mild looking sauce, oh how your eyes deceive you. However, this curry is really simple to make and always a treat. I serve this curry with what I call simple coconut-pandanus rice. This wonderful rice is light , cooked with coconut water instead of coconut milk, and has a subtle flavor from the pandanus leaf. I cook this in a rice cooker, and the bottom of the rice gets lightly caramelized, absolutely delicious. This rice is a wonderful pairing with this and any coconut based curries.
This is an amazing cookbook, so much so that I rarely now go to the other Sri Lankan cookbooks on my shelf. It is an absolutely gorgeous cookbook, from which I have cooked at least half the recipes, every one spectacular. I believe what makes this book special is the attention to detail, including recipes for every spice blend, Fish curry powder in this recipe, making every recipe shine.
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
For the fish curry:
1 lb fish fillets and shellfish, mackerel, red snapper, tilapia, shrimp, or others of choice
1/2 cup water
2-3 pieces dried kokum
1/4 cup water
1 can 13.5 fl. oz. coconut milk
2 teaspoons Fish curry powder
1/2 cinnamon stick
A pinch of turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek (methi) seeds
1 onion, minced
1-3 green chilies, cut into circles
1 tablespoon garlic paste
10-12 curry leaves
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
For the Fish curry powder:
3 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 1/2 oz coriander seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons fenugreek (methi) seeds
6-8 curry leaves
1 tablespoon dried lemongrass
Simple coconut-pandanus rice:
2 cups rice, Basmati or any long grain variety
Appropriate amount of coconut water, not coconut milk
5-6 2 inch pieces of pandanus leaf
Mix the rice, coconut water, rice and pandanus leaves and cook like you would any rice, I use a rice cooker. If using another method, though I cannot imagine why you would, do not stir the rice towards the last 5 minutes. The bottom of the rice will caramelize lightly due to the sugars in the coconut water. Fluff and set aside.
Dry roast each of of the Fish curry powder ingredients individually lightly on a warm stove. Take care not to burn any of them. When cooled crush in a coffee mill or spice grinder to a fine powder. Can be stored in an airtight container for as long as it lasts and does not get slate.
Marinate the fish and shrimp in lemon juice for 30 minutes. Soak the dried kokum in warm water for 30 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients to a pot and simmer gently for about 10-12 minutes till the onions are cooked and soft. Add the fish and kokum and simmer for about 10 more minutes till the fish is cooked. be careful not to boil the curry, simmer it gently, the sour kokum can split the coconut milk.
Remove from the stove and cool. Add the salt and lime juice and mix in. Taste for salt, sour and spice. Garnish with the minced cilantro. Serve with the rice.