The recipe for these Sri Lankan Malasa Shrimp (prawns) was gradually tricked out of one of my favourite Sydney restaurant owners over a decade ago. The sadly now closed Sri Lankan Janani restaurant was close to my house and close to my heart - incredible in many ways.
Incredibly grubby, incredibly chaotic but incredibly tasty! The owner/waitress/chef was a lovely lady who would show you the menu then proceed to tell you that you could have nothing from it - she would persuasively instruct you what you needed to order then disappear into the kitchen to cook it. At some point in the evening you'd receive your food and forgive any wait. Triumphant potato bonda, egg hoppers and the most incredible kottu roti.
Unlocking the flavours of Sri Lankan green masala shrimp
This dish was cooked for us on one visit, not on the menu of course. It was so delicious I tried to get the recipe from her. She was having none of it. I called out a few ingredients that I thought may be in there and got the stock standard indian/Sri Lankan sidewards nod (the hilarious non committal yes or no). From her smiles at my guesses I deduced a couple of ingredients on that visit - copious curry leaves, cilantro and interestingly, mint.
Over the course of a year, we'd gradually get more and more ingredients. Each time, she thought she was being super clever and coy - little did she know I was playing a long game. In time I concluded that I had all the ingredients and decided to finally give it go at home.
A complex marrying of spice and freshness.
The sauce is a complex but surprisingly simple combination of fresh ingredients to give a wonderful fresh herbal taste with a hit of chilli heat. The tartness of lime and creaminess of coconut milk combine perfectly. This curry is light, bright and packed with every ounce of flavour it can muster.
The taste is almost identical to the secret recipe, and the secret's out! I have no desire to hide this from the world! It's all yours! My addition of fried herbs is my own and adds not only a textural delight, but the flavour of fried fresh curry leaves is out of this world!
It's quick and easy to make at home too. The prawns are the perfect protein and bring a beautiful sweetness to the zingy sauce. It's one of my favourite seafood curries ever. I'm so glad I tricked my way to a quite amazing recipe.
More Indian and Sri Lankan Seafood Curries
Some condiments too!