Sri Lankan Sour Fish Curry

Here’s a recipe for a delicious fish curry from Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankans know how to make a mean fish curry – this one is everything Iove in a seafood curry. It’s complex, spicy and beautifully sour in flavour. This works perfectly with fish – especially with firm white fleshed fish. It’s also great with a more oily fish like mackerel or even sardines.

For the curry paste:

1 teaspoon raw rice
1 tablespoons dessicated coconut
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
5 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons chilli powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Other Ingredients:
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2cm piece fresh ginger (chopped)
1 stem fresh curry leaves
2cm cinnamon stick
4 garlic cloves (grated)
1 red onion (thinly sliced)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
500g firm white fish fillets (skinned and cut into chunks)
1 lime (optional)

To make the curry paste
Dry fry the rice, coconut, fenugreek, cumin, coriander and fennel for 1-2 minutes until aromatic. Add along with the curry leaves to a spice grinder or pestle & mortar and grind into a fine powder. Stir in the turmeric and chilli powder then stir in the oil and 2 tablespoons water to form a thick paste. Set aside.

To make the curry:
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or saucepan over a moderate heat until hot. Drop in the curry leaves and cinnamon stick. Let it splatter for 5 seconds then drop in the ginger and garlic and sizzle for 10-20 seconds. Stir in the curry paste, reduce the heat to medium low and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes before adding the onion. Let this cook gently for 5-6 minutes until soft stirring regularly. Pour in 500ml water and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until reduced and lightly thickened. Stir in the tamarind paste and salt and adjust to your liking.

Adjust the temperature so that the sauce is barely simmering. Drop in the fish and cook for 7-8 minutes until cooked through. Shake the pan over stirring to avoid breaking up the fish.

Remove from the heat and adjust the sourness by squeezing in fresh lime juice to your taste.

I ate it with basmati rice and a small salad of tomato, onion, fresh coriander and mint with a squeezing of lime juice.

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