AUTHENTIC SRI LANKAN COOKING...
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.
FACTS ABOUT SRI LANKAN FOOD..
- 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.
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
Garlic 2tbs of garlic minced with the back of the knife or in a crusher.
60g of fresh ginger grated finely.
Chilli powder 1tsp
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
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!