Sri Lankan Sour Curry of Fish

(Photo by chooyutshing/Flickr)

Serves 6.


750 g/1 1/2 lb oily fish (tuna or bonito)
1 rounded tablespoon tamarind pulp
or 4 pieces dried gamboge
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
sprig of fresh curry leaves
or 12 dried curry leaves
1 stalk lemon grass or 2 strips lemon rind
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
2 tablespoons oil


Wash and dry fish, cut into serving pieces. Soak the tamarind in the vinegar and 1/2 cup boiling water until it is soft. Squeeze tamarind in the liquid to dissolve pulp, strain through a fine nylon sieve and discard seeds and fibres. If using gamboge, soak until soft. Put all ingredients into a non-aluminium saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until fish is cooked and gravy is thick. Shake pan or turn fish pieces carefully once or twice during cooking. Serve with rice.

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