Category Archives: Fish recipes

Fish recipes

Power Cut Prawn Curry

Now unless you live in Sri Lanka, I am 99% sure that you will have absolutely no idea of what I am talking about except for the prawn curry bit.

Basically, Sri Lanka has had some “issues” with island-wide electricity supply since Sunday the 13th of March when the entire country was without power for around 8 hours due to an explosion at a major power station. This caused another major power station to malfunction and (so we have been informed by various media sources and politicians here – make of that what you wish) that the latter power station was not built according to international standards and hence it is needing huge repairs, so daily power cuts of seven and half hours have been imposed throughout the country. Five and a half during the day and two at night. The citizens, residents and I expect the tourists not lucky enough to be in hotels with a generator are pretty pissed off. And with the power cuts come water cuts. A whole big barrel of laughs NOT.

Life by candlelight

People do take things like this in their stride though and Sri Lankans, who are notoriously laid back (in a great way) particularly so. People flocked to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with funny photos, comments and memes (#PowerCutSL). I meanwhile decided, as I didn’t want my laptop battery to die, to cook a yummy prawn curry. I had plenty of gas for cooking and plenty of candles (and wine!) so it really made the night time power cut bearable. Therefore, I thought I would share the recipe with you.

Power Cut Prawns

Power Cut Prawn Curry Recipe (serves 2 as a large portion or 3)


  • 20 large prawns, shelled and keep some heads aside
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 – 4 stems of curry leaves or 30 to 40 leaves
  • 1 thumb size of fresh ginger, sliced
  • 3/4/5 long green chillies, sliced (up to you!)
  • 2-3 small red onions, sliced
  • 4 cardamom pods, squashed
  • 1 tbsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 1 cinnamon, stick broken
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp. red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp. ground turmeric
  • 1L coconut milk (fresh is best, but I used the powdered milk and cans will be just as good)
  • Oil (I used virgin coconut oil)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Lime to taste


  • In a large frying pan, add a little oil and cook the prawns in batches of 8 to 10 at a time, or about 1.5-2 minutes depending on the size of the prawn. Keep aside to cool
  • In a large saucepan, heat the whole spices and cook until toasted and aromatic.  Add your oil to the pan and then add the garlic, curry leaves, ginger, chilli and shallots. Cook for 2 mins.
  • Deshell the prawns and put the prawn heads in the saucepan with the spices.
  • Add the rest of the powdered spices with the coconut milk and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain to remove prawn heads.
  • Pour the sauce over the prawns in the frying pan, and season with salt, pepper and some fresh lime juice and you are ready!

Serve with rice and wedges of lime.

Power Cut Prawn Curry

There is always a silver lining behind every cloud! 🙂

Pan Asian: Fish Ambul Thiyal (Sour Fish Curry) — Sri Lanka

Why re-invent the wheel? This is by far the most comprehensive recipe I have seen online for Fish Ambul Thiyal (Sour Fish Curry). Great for breakfast with pol roti or string hoppers.

This is usually cooked with tuna but you can use any fish – preferably a non-flaky robust meaty fish.

Rice & Curry

today’s lunch: fish ambul thiyal, pol (coconut) roti, and a Sri Lankan salad

While trying to figure out what recipe to make for the next episode of Pan Asian, a look at my blog statistics told me that many people were checking out an older post for the above dish, Fish Ambul Thiyal. Like coconut sambol, paripu, and cashew curry, Ambul Thiyal is one of those defining dished of Sri Lankan cuisine–because no other cultures have it. Perhaps it’s because one of the dish’s main ingredients, goraka or gamboge, is not found in too many other places besides Sri Lanka. This orange fruit, which resembles a tiny, shriveled black kidney when dried, imparts a unique tartness, which balances out with the salty and spicy flavors of the dish, creating a truly amazing flavor. I’m also told its an excellent preservative, and in the days before refrigeration, using goraka in cooking…

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Father’s Day Recipe – Fried Seer Fish

Tomorrow is Father’s Day!

My Dad is a healthy chap and recently gave up eating meat. He still eats fish though. As we cannot be together this Father’s Day I’ve decided to post a very popular Sri Lankan fish recipe for him which isn’t too spicy but still full of flavour. It’s also very easy.

The fish I have chosen is Seer fish. Seer belongs to the Mackerel family but I don’t find it anywhere near as oily as normal mackerel. They are pelagic fishes, fast swimmers and predatory in nature, that fight vigorously when caught. A popular game fish, Seer are mainly caught using hooks and lines. They are a delicacy in several regions of South India and Sri Lanka where it is known as “Thora” and is usually the costliest fish available at the market (nothing but the best for Pops on Father’s Day!). Seer fish are also referred to as “king mackerels” in some areas. They can grow up to 45kg (100lbs), have very sharp teeth and are handled with care by fishermen familiar with them.

Seer fish
Seer fish

Fried Seer Fish recipe 


  • 1/2 tsp Aniseed powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed or powdered Cloves
  • 1 tsp Chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander powder
  • Juice of one two limes
  • 500gr FRESH Seer Fish (about 3 or  4 fish steaks)
  • Oil to fry


Mix all the ingredients and marinate the fish steaks for 1 hour. Heat oil in a frying pan, add the marinated fish in batches, fry, turning occasionally until golden brown. Serve with a large salad and garlic mayonnaise or rice and tomato & onion salsa.

NOTE: Seer is also wonderful on the BBQ – wrap the seer steaks in tin foil with a knob of butter and barbeque away 🙂

Love you Dad!

Fried Seer Fish
Fried Seer Fish with garlic mayonnaise

Euro 2012 Football Food – Battered Prawns

After the humiliating defeat of the Dutch by the Danes on Saturday (and made worse by the press having a field day with the poor Dutch players) I’m staying (a little) quieter. Whoever you are supporting these Battered Prawns are yummy as a snack to eat with your football beers. They are not really Sri Lankan but this recipe is by a Sri Lankan cook – Chef Duminda.

Battered Prawns:


500 g prawns
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup flour
2 tsp’s baking powder
1 cup Cornstarch
1 egg
1 tablespoon oil
3/4 cup soda (or water)
4 cups oil


Wash, shell and devein prawns, leaving the tails on. Sprinkle with salt and mix well. Refrigerate for two hours.

Mix flour, baking powder, cornstarch, eggs, oil and soda (or water) to make a batter.

Heat wok. Add 4 cups oil and reheat. Holding the prawns by the tails, dip into the batter, then drop into hot oil. Fry until golden, turning once. Drain. Serve hot.

TO MAKE IN ADVANCE: Deep fry, cool and freeze. Then when required preheat oven to 350F. Place frozen prawns in single layer on a baking sheet and heat for 12 to 15 minutes.

Serve with cocktail sauce, aioli, chili sauce or sweet and sour sauce for dipping.

Battered Prawns - courtesy of Chef Duminda
Battered Prawns – courtesy of Chef Duminda

Sri Lankan Snacks – Yummy Fish Cutlets

Sri Lankans are mad on snacks, or “short-eats” and “bites” as they like to call them. Short Eats are usually eaten with a cup of tea in a bakery or a Sri Lankan kade and can be sweet (like a tea cake) or savoury (like a fish bun aka “malu pan“). Bites are usually snacks that accompany an alcoholic drinking session (like devilled fried beef slices or manioca chips). The famous Sri Lankan fish cutlets fall into both categories.

The reason why I thought of this blog post is that two of my best friends in the world are celebrating their birthday this coming Sunday – June 10th. They both live in the UK so I can’t be with them as I’ll still be here in the rainy paradise that is Sri Lanka. I’m too late to send a present or card (sorry guys!) and yeah I will Facebook them and text them on Sunday but what could I do to give them something more??? Then it came to me => I could dedicate a few blog posts to them both: Helen Lodge & Julie Allington (they don’t know each other by the way but will one day!!).

So I got thinking – what do they both have in common and what would they enjoy? The obvious answer was that they both love a good party so I started thinking cocktails (this will follow!) and food to accompany the drinks…oh and boozy food!

I also started thinking along the lines of Themes and yup I think I have my next few blogs covered! Julie – the rock-chick and Helen – miss sophistication with a mischievous streak 🙂

Firstly though let’s get the food out of way so the party can start. Both Julie & Helen love Sri Lanka so I can’t go wrong with this recipe for Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets (without garlic as Julie isn’t a fan):

Ingredients (Serves 4):

For the Fish mix:

2 medium potatoes, cubed

2 tins of tuna chunks, drained (you can use salmon or mackerel too) – some use fresh fish but this is a party so we’re keeping it simple!

1 medium red onion, chopped very finely

2 – 3 green chilies, chopped very finely, deseeded

4 – 5 curry leaves, shredded (use coriander leaves if you can’t get curry leaves)

½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground (or more if you like it spicy like me)

1 tsp or more chili powder

½ tsp coriander powder (optional)

½ tsp cumin powder (optional)

½ tsp lime (or lemon) juice to taste

1 tsp Dijon mustard


For Frying

4 tbsp plain bread crumbs for coating (just buy the shop stuff – this isn’t a fine dining recipe…this is a celebration!)

2 medium eggs beaten

Oil for deep frying (coconut oil for a more authentic but vegetable oil is just as good)


1. Boil the potatoes with a pinch of salt until well done. When they’re done, drain and leave to cool in the sieve. You want the water from the potatoes to evaporate, so leave them to do their thing.

2. In the meantime, prepare the remaining ingredients except for the salt and lime juice, and mix them well in a bowl (if you have time you can fry the onions, chillies and curry leaves first for a more authentic taste and crispy texture). When the potatoes have cooled down, mash them and add to the mixture in the bowl (I do this by hand…it really is the easiest way). Add the lime (or lemon) juice and salt to taste.

3. Sprinkle a little oil in a pan and sauté the mixture for 10 mins and let it cool.

4. Then take about a golf-ball sized amount of mixture and roll it into a ball. Next dip the ball into the egg, and then into bread crumbs. Do all the cutlets in this way.

NOW – once the cutlets are ready you can freeze them for up to one month. So you can prepare this dish in advance of your party and you just need to deep fry them on the day 🙂

5. To fry – pour oil into a deep pan, or a wok and put on medium high. You’ll need enough oil for deep frying. The oil is hot enough when it sizzles when you insert a wooden spoon (or test a piece of bread out).

6. Fry the fish cutlets for a few minutes turning often to ensure an even colour, until they are hot and the coating is cooked crispy.


Tuna salad with a kick

People ask me if I ever get home-sick living in Sri Lanka….to be honest no not really. I get specific people-sick (like missing my mum, my dad and some of my best friends) and food-sick (craving for something that Sri Lanka does not have or is difficult to find – I will blog about this quite extensively in weeks to come!) but I don’t miss “my home”.

I woke up early because I was too hot and it’s been a blindingly hot day. Lovely and sunny…only I started getting food-sick at lunchtime. I was craving a salad. Something fresh, cool and crunchy to enjoy. Now there are plenty of salads available in restauarants all over Sri Lanka but I have yet to find something to rival a decent salad ordered in the UK or Holland. A side salad in most restaurants here will consist of a coleslaw-like concoction with pineapple or a some drab lettuce leaves that have seen better days topped by over-ripe tomatoes, cucumber and too much onion. There is a real gap in the market for a decent salad place, there may be some in Colombo (let me know if you know of any) but not much outside of the capital at all.

So I decided to make my own tuna salad – all the ingredients are easily available here and as an added plus my Sri Lankan friends love it too!

Tuna salad with a kick

Ingredients (to serve 2 at most…I easily gobble up the whole thing by myself):

  • 1 can of good quality tuna steak (white meat preferred – you can choose in oil or brine, personally I prefer in oil as mayonnaise is expensive in Sri Lanka and you will need less if the fish is already oily)
  • 1 medium size red onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 small stick of celery (very finely chopped)
  • 1 small tomato (very finely chopped)
  • 1 large tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 green chilli (halved, de-seeded and very finely chopped – OPTIONAL)
  • half a tsp of red chilli powder (or less depending on how hot you like it or leave out all together)
  • half a tsp of black pepper
  • pinch of  salt


Drain the tuna and mix in a bowl with a fork until the fish steak is in pieces. All all the other ingredients and mix well. Chill in the fridge for an hour before using.

You can eat this as it comes on a bed of fresh lettuce leaves. Serve it as bites or canapés on crackers or toasted pitta breads. But today as I was feeling food-sick I went for the full sandwich option on fresh brown bread (which isn’t easy to find in Sri Lanka but my local supermarket sells home-made brown bread due to high demand from the expats!!). It hit the spot.

Tuna salad with a kick
Tuna salad with a kick

Spicy Prawn Curry (by request)

In this section I will post about Sri Lankan food and recipes. If there is anything you have eaten in Sri Lanka or in a Sri Lankan restaurant elsewhere and you would like to know to know how to make it at home, let me know and I will ask my friends here in Sri Lanka for their version or post from my collection of Sri Lankan cookbooks.

This is a recipe for a Spicy Prawn Curry:

Spicy Prawn Curry
Spicy Prawn Curry


500 g prawns – you can use large king prawns or smaller varieties

1 small stick cinnamon

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

Sprig of fresh curry leaves (if not available you can use bay leaves)

1 stem fresh lemon grass, bruised

or 2 strips lemon rind

1 strip rampe leaf (if not available chop up one leek very finely)

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1-2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp salt or to taste

2 cups thick coconut milk (fresh is best but canned is possible)

Lime or lemon juice to taste


Wash prawns and remove the heads and carefully take out the veins, but leave the rear of prawns with shells intact. Put all ingredients, except the prawns and lime juice into a saucepan. Stir in one cup of water and bring slowly to simmering point. Simmer uncovered for five minutes. Add prawns and lime juice and stir. Simmer for a further five minutes. Add more salt and lime juice if necessary and serve with boiled rice or bread.

This recipe is all about the prawns so I have not included onions or garlic but only spices. Spicy food is loved by most people and the spices blended in this curry will give the prawns a delicious twist.