Maldive Fish Sambal with Onion and Chilies

(Photo by lynac/Flickr)

Also called called lunu miris in Sri Lanka, this is one of those preparations which needs a mortar and pestle to achieve the right consistency: an electric blender would require too much liquid to purée the ingredients.


60 g/2 oz dry red chilies
or 3 tablespoons sambal ulek
15 g/1/2 oz pounded Maldive fish,
60 g/2 oz shallots or onions, peeled and chopped
lime juice


Soak the chillies in water for 10 minutes, first removing their stems and seeds. Combine with Maldive fish and onions and pound with a mortar and pestle to a coarse paste. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Form into a patty and serve as an accompaniment to be taken in very small amounts.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)