Sri Lankan Fish Curry

Fish curries are quicker to make than other curries. Fish cooks so quickly the curry is ready in a flash. This Sri Lankan dish is a creamy, spicy treat. It packs a bit of a punch too, which is always good. If you don’t want it too spicy, then leave out the cayenne. One other point, fish curry doesn’t really reheat all that well as the fish will just break up and turn into a big old mess, so either don’t eat all day prior and be suitably hungry or invite some friends to share it.

1 1/2 tablespoons Sri Lankan curry powder (see below)
750g firm white fish fillets (skin off)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 large onion (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon ginger (minced)
2 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
400ml coconut milk
8 fresh curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon tamarind paste (diluted with 1/4 cup water)
1 tomato (chopped)
1 green chilli (thinly sliced)
1 tablespoon fresh coriander (chopped)
lime wedges

Sri Lankan Curry Powder: (makes more than you need)
1/2 cup coriander seeds
1/4 cup cumin seeds
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 small cinnamon stick (2.5cm)
8 cloves
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 tablespoon dried curry leaves
2 teaspoons chilli powder

To make the curry powder:

In a dry frying pan, toast the coriander until it bowns slightly and becomes fragrant. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat the process with the cumin, fenugreek and the fennel. Cool and with either a pestle & mortar, food processor or coffee grinder, grind into a fine powder. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick (in small pieces), cardamom and curry leaves. Grind again into a fine powder. Stir in the chilli powder. Keep in an airtight container. It’ll be fine for a month or so so you can make other delicious Sri Lankan curries. See my Chicken Curry dish, this spice mix will work beautifully.

To make the curry.
Combine the turmeric, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the fish and coat well. Heat about 1 cm of peanut oil in a frying pan. When hot, slide in a fish fillet and let it cook quickly on each side to brown. Drain on paper towels and repeat with all the fillets. Set aside.
In a large pan or wok, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil from the frying pan over a moderate heat. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and fenugreek and fry for 4-5 minutes until browned. Add the curry leaves and the Sri Lankan curry powder, stir briefly then pour over the tamarind and coconut milk. Stir well, bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 7 minutes. Sprinkle over the cayenne pepper and stir in. Carefully add the fish fillets and gently stir in. Cook for 3-4 minutes then remove from the heat and serve.

Sprinkle over some tomato, green chilli and coriander and a generous squeeze of lime.

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