What is Sri Lankan Fish Curry?
Sri Lankan Fish Curry, also known as Malu Mirisata, is a traditional dish that showcases the rich, vibrant flavours of Sri Lankan cuisine. The dish is typically made with a firm white fish, simmered in a thick, spicy sauce made from coconut milk, tomatoes, and a special blend of spices. It’s a staple in coastal areas of Sri Lanka, where fresh fish is abundant.
Unique Characteristics of Sri Lankan Fish Curry
What sets Sri Lankan Fish Curry apart from other fish curries is the unique combination of spices used in the dish. The curry is flavoured with a special blend of spices, including fennel seeds, pandan leaves, curry leaves, and fenugreek, which give it a unique, intense flavour. The addition of tamarind adds a tangy note that balances out the richness of the coconut milk.
Ingredients and Quantities
For a serving of Sri Lankan Fish Curry for three, you will need:
- Firm white fish: 500 grams (cut into pieces)
- Coconut milk: 2 cups
- Tomatoes: 2 (chopped)
- Green chillies: 2 (sliced)
- Curry leaves: 10 leaves
- Fenugreek seeds: 1/2 teaspoon
- Fennel seeds: 1/2 teaspoon
- Pandan leaf: 1 (tied into a knot)
- Tamarind paste: 1 tablespoon
- Turmeric powder: 1/2 teaspoon
- Red chilli powder: 1 teaspoon (or to taste)
- Salt: to taste
- Vegetable oil: 2 tablespoons
Step-by-Step Guide to Making Sri Lankan Fish Curry
- Preparing the fish: Clean the fish pieces and marinate them with salt and turmeric powder. Set aside for 15 minutes.
- Making the curry: In a large pan, heat the oil and add the fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, pandan leaf, and curry leaves. Sauté until fragrant. Add the chopped tomatoes and green chillies, and cook until the tomatoes are soft.
- Cooking the fish: Add the marinated fish pieces to the pan and coat them with the tomato mixture. Add the tamarind paste, red chili powder, and salt. Stir well to combine.
- Simmering the curry: Pour in the coconut milk and bring the curry to a simmer. Cover the pan and let it cook on low heat for about 20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and the flavours are well combined.
Tips for Perfect Sri Lankan Fish Curry
- Choosing the right fish: Use a firm white fish for this recipe. Tuna, snapper, or kingfish are excellent choices.
- Adjusting the heat: You can adjust the level of spiciness to your liking by adding more or less chili powder.
The Cultural Significance of Fish Curry
Fish Curry in Sri Lankan Cuisine
Being an island nation, Sri Lanka has an abundant supply of fresh fish and seafood. This is reflected in its cuisine, with fish curry being a common dish in many households, especially in coastal areas. The dish holds a special place in Sri Lankan cuisine due to its distinctive flavor profile, which beautifully encapsulates the country’s love for bold, spicy flavours and fresh, local ingredients.
Pairing Sri Lankan Fish Curry
What to Serve with Sri Lankan Fish Curry
Sri Lankan Fish Curry pairs wonderfully with plain rice, which helps to temper the heat of the curry and lets the flavours shine. It’s also traditionally served with a side of “pol sambol” (coconut sambol) and “kiribath” (milk rice) on special occasions. The rich, creamy curry, the fiery sambol, and the mildly sweet kiribath create a harmonious blend of flavours that is nothing short of a culinary delight.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What type of fish should I use for Sri Lankan Fish Curry?
Traditionally, a firm white fish like tuna, snapper, or kingfish is used. However, you can use any type of fish you prefer.
2. Can I use coconut cream instead of coconut milk?
Yes, you can use coconut cream. It will give the curry a richer and creamier texture.
3. How can I make the curry less spicy?
You can reduce the amount of chilli powder used in the recipe. Remember, you can always add more later if needed.
4. Can I make this curry in advance?
Yes, like most curries, Sri Lankan Fish Curry tastes even better the next day as the flavours have more time to meld together.
5. Can I freeze Sri Lankan Fish Curry?
Yes, you can freeze the curry for up to one month. Make sure to defrost and reheat thoroughly before serving.
Health Benefits of Consuming Sri Lankan Fish Curry
1. High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their heart health benefits.
2. Rich in Protein: Fish is a high-quality protein source, making it a great choice for those looking to increase their protein intake.
3. Contains Healthy Fats: The coconut milk in the curry provides a source of healthy fats.
4. High in Antioxidants: The various spices used in the curry are rich in antioxidants, which can help fight inflammation in the body.
5. Source of Vitamins and Minerals: Fish is a good source of many vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin D and B2, calcium, and iron.