Southern dry fish curry

Southern dry fish curry

Ambul thial

My Feast
Chris Chen

This is a favourite in Sri Lanka. The cooking method was used to preserve fish in the days of no refrigeration. It is a wonderful and tasty way to prepare tuna or other oily fish. There are many versions but the most important ingredients are goroka, black pepper, chilli and lime and the tuna will add its own flavour once it has been cooked. My recipe is more complex and has been pulled straight from my family kitchen.


Quantity Ingredient
450g tuna steak, cut into 3 cm pieces
1 lime, juiced
5 pieces goroka, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
garlic, minced
2cm ginger, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon red chilli powder
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon roasted sri lankan curry powder, (see glossary)
2 green cardamom pods, seeds removed
2 spirgs curry leaves, leaves picked
2 small green chillies, halved lengthways
250ml water


  1. Combine the tuna and lime juice in a bowl and leave for 5 minutes, drain, then place the tuna in a single layer in a large heavy-based saucepan.
  2. Drain the goroka, place in a mortar and pestle with the garlic, ginger and all of the spices, except the cinnamon, and pound until a paste forms.
  3. Combine the paste with the cinnamon, curry leaves, chilli and water and pour over the tuna and combine well.
  4. Bring to the boil over medium–low heat, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
My Sri Lanka
Island Feast
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