Sri Lankan curry recipe

June 08, 2018

Sri Lankan curry recipe



I had the joy of spending 3 weeks travelling around Sri Lanka a few years ago and had the amazing opportunity of being taught this recipe by one of our hosts's mum at our guest house in the mountains of Kandy. 


  • Even though its an island off the southern tip of India the food is vastly different. 
  • Sea food is a missive part of Sri Lankan food. Everything from parrot fish to crab and octopus. 
  • Sri Lankan's traditionally don't eat out much, they mostly eat at home. 
  • Sri Lankan breakfast isn't one to miss. Spring hoppers are the normal accompaniment to the traditional curry and coconut sambals. Spring hoppers are like a broken down pancake. Made using rice flour, salt and water. The mixture is then forced through a special machine with holes to make a string like effect. They are then steamed cooked and delicious! 
  • Sri Lanka grows over 15 different types of rice, as rice and curry are the staple diets of most Sri Lankan's. 

This Sri Lankan hake is a truly delicious dish and a good one to make in batches to freeze. The curry sauce works well with all types of white fish or chicken. 
I like it with hake as its good source of omega 3 and fatty acids! 

I was frantically trying to write down the recipe while only watching the mum cook. As no English was spoken and I unfortunately didn't speak Hindi. After weeks of perfecting the recipe when i got home i finally cracked the exact quantities and the flavour i wanted to recreate. One difference that will always be hard to recreate is the fresh coconut milk and flesh. Or though I have spent time extracting the fresh coconut milk from coconuts back here in England it never quite tastes the same.


For the Sri Lankan curry powder you will need: 

50g coriander seeds

25g cumin seeds

25g fennel seeds

1 x cinnamon sick

½ tsp cloves

½ tsp cardamom

½ tsp mustard seeds  

- Lightly toast all the above spices and until you start smelling the spices aroma. 

- Grind them in a spice/coffee grinder or a pestle mortar. 

For the curry base: 

250g or about two onions finely diced

25ml vegetable oil 

5g salt 

Garlic 2tbs of garlic minced with the back of the knife or in a crusher. 

 60g of fresh ginger grated finely. 

Chilli powder 1tsp

Turmeric 2tsp

500ml good quality chopped tomatoes    

2 x tins of coconut milk 

20ml lime juice ( about two limes) and zest

25g fresh coriander

4 x 150g portions of hake fillet 

400g chickpeas 

a hand full of baby spinach leaves. 

- Finely dice your onion and sweat down in a heavy based sauce ban on a low heat in vegetable oil.  Sprinkle the salt over the onions, this will help the onions sweat quicker and bring our the sugars. 

- Once your onion is translucent and soft ( about 10 mins) add your garlic and ginger. 

- Add 4 tsp of the Sri Lankan curry powder, chilli powder and turmeric powder and cook for a further 5 minutes.  

- Add your chopped tomatoes and coconut milk

- Reduce for 45 minutes to an hour on a low heat. 

- While your sauce is reducing, season your fish with salt, pepper and lime zest. 

- Cook in the oven at 170 degrees for 5-10 mins depending on how thick your fish is. 

- Leave to rest for a further 5 mins, add any juices to the curry sauce. 

- Once the sauce is reduced, season with salt and maybe a pinch of sugar if the tomatoes need sweetening. Then blitz in a food processor or a stick blender until smooth 

- Add the lime juice, fresh coriander, chickpeas and spinach. 

- Spoon the sauce onto the plate and place the hake on top. Ready to serve! 


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