Friday, March 29, 2013

the spice of sri lanka


The place is properly magical, the food all consuming, the people curiously incredible and hypnotic. The island where your watch, quite literally, stands still for a few brilliant moments in time

Sri Lankan fish curry
Serves 4
900g seer fish fillet, or any firm white fish although salmon will do just fine
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 fresh curry leaves
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tblsp sri lankan curry powder (see below)
2 medium-sized tomatoes, skinned and chopped
50ml tamarind liquid
400ml coconut milk
Mango or lime chutney to serve
For the Sri Lankan curry powder
2½ tblsp coriander seeds
1 tblsp cumin seed
1½ tsp fennel seeds
A healthy pinch of fenugreek seed
2.5cm piece cinnamon stick
3 cloves
2 green cardamom pods
6 black peppercorns
For the curry powder, toast everything over a high heat in a dry pan and then simply grind everything together in a spice grinder into a fine powder. Store in a screw top jar
Rinse the fish under cold water and dry on kitchen paper. Heat the oil in a large, shallow pan, add the onion, garlic, curry leaves and fry gently for 7-10 minutes until the onions are soft and only just turning lightly golden
Add the turmeric, chilli powder and 2 tblsp of the Sri Lankan curry powder and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tamarind liquid, coconut milk and 1 tsp of salt and simmer gently for 15 minutes
Add the fish to the pan and spoon some of the sauce over the top of the fish. Turn the heat right down and simmer gently for 5 minutes, then cover the pan and set aside for 30 minutes. The fish needs to take in the flavour of the sauce and after 30 minutes should be cooked through - but if not, just return to the heat for a few more minutes until it is. Serve with some steamed basmati rice and some poppadoms should you feel inclined to do so