This beautifully spiced white fish curry can be made with any firm-fleshed fish such as tuna, mackerel or trevally (also known as giant kingfish). The spices give fragrance and flavour, but this isn’t a hot curry.
The recipe is from Peter Kuruvita’s Serendip: My Sri Lankan Kitchen cookbook. Read our full review of Serendip: My Sri Lankan Kitchen by Peter Kuruvita.
A souring and thickening agent unique to Sri Lanka, goroka (kokam) is a fluted orange fruit whose segments are dried, turning black. It can be soaked in hot water and ground to a pate or added whole and removed after cooking. It is most commonly used in fish curries. Goroka is available from Asian grocers and specialist spice outlets. There’s no substitute provided in the book, but if you are unable to source goroka, I’d recommend using tamarind to add the sourness that this ingredient brings.
Sri Lankan White Fish Curry
When making a fish curry always search for a firm-fleshed fish. Tuna, mackerel and large trevally work really well. There are many different fish curries. A white curry is highly spiced but not too hot. Some recipes ask for tomatoes, but I have never added tomatoes to a fish curry and they were never used in my grandmother's house either.
- Juice of 2 limes
- 450 g (1 lb) Spanish mackerel, skin on, cut into 3 cm (1¼ in) pieces
- 1 piece of Goroka (available from Asian grocers and specialist spice outlets)
- 200 ml (7 fl oz) coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons Sri Lankan fish curry powder (recipe provided below)
- ½ cinnamon stick
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds, lightly roasted
- ½ teaspoon dill seeds
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 small green chillies, halved lengthways
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 sprig fresh curry leaves, leaves picked
- 100 ml (3½ fl oz) coconut cream
A souring and thickening agent unique to Sri Lanka, goroka (kokam) is a fluted orange fruit whose segments are dried, turning black. It can be soaked in hot water and ground to a pate or added whole and removed after cooking. It is most commonly used in fish curries. Goroka is available from Asian grocers and specialist spice outlets.
Place half the lime juice and 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) of cold water in a shallow bowl, add the mackerel and gently wash the fish all over. Drain the liquid, then add the Goroka and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
Place the coconut milk, spices, onion, chillies, garlic and curry leaves in a heavy-based saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until the onions are soft. Add the drained fish and Goroka and simmer gently for 5–7 minutes or until the fish is nearly cooked through. Add the coconut cream and bring to just below the boil, being careful not to let the mixture boil. Remove from the heat, cover and stand for 10 minutes, then season to taste with salt and the remaining lime juice if needed.
This Sri Lankan fish curry powder can be used in a range of fish curries and also works well added to a little flour and used to season fish fillets before shallow frying.
Sri Lankan Fish Curry Powder
Makes about ¾ cup.
- 3 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 40 g (1½ oz) coriander seeds
- 1½ teaspoons fenugreek seeds
- 2 cm (¾ in) piece lemongrass stem, bruised
- 1 sprig fresh curry leaves, leaves picked
Place all the ingredients in a heavy-based frying pan and dry roast over low heat for 7–10 minutes or until fragrant. Remove and reserve the curry leaves and lemongrass, then, using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, grind the spices until a fine powder forms. Add the lemongrass and curry leaves and store in an airtight jar, in a cool dark place, for up to 2 months.
Made the recipe? Let us know how you enjoyed it in the comments!
Browse our full collection of curry recipes from around the world.
If you decide to buy this book after reading our content, please consider clicking through our affiliate link, located within the post and in the footnote at the end.
Kavey Eats received a review copy of Peter Kuruvita’s Serendip: My Sri Lankan Kitchen from publishers Murdoch Books. Recipe published with permission. Photography by Alan Benson.
Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!One Comment to "Sri Lankan White Fish Curry"
Another great-sounding dish. Always looking for alternative recipes for mackerel, one of my all time favourite fish.