Sri Lankan Fish Curry Recipe

Sri Lankan Fish Curry Recipe
Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon), is a lovely island that sits just off the southern tip of India. Sri Lanka is renowned for its delicious fresh seafood & my wonderful Sri Lankan Fish Curry is the perfect example. Being an island, seafood plays a big role in the traditional Sri Lankan diet. My home made Sri Lankan Curry Powder is a distinctive mix of spices used in this particular dish, I have provided an easy recipe below. If you do not have SL Curry Powder, don’t worry & just use whatever spice mix (masala) you happen to have on hand.

By the way, SL cuisine is generally spicier than Indian cuisine & the hotter the better – but feel free to adjust this recipe to suit your own personal taste.

Any firm fish will work for this recipe such as cod, snapper, halibut, sea bass, pomfret, tilapia, mahi mahi, salmon, flounder, grouper, sole, haddock, swordfish….



2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick (about 2” or so in length)
6 cloves
1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
6 green cardamom pods, crushed
6 dried curry leaves


Dry roast the spices in a skillet on medium heat. Let cool and grind to a fine powder. Store in the pantry for up to 1 month and in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.




1½-2 lbs firm fish, cut into 1½” pieces
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1½” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
5-6 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (to taste)
6-8 fresh curry leaves
1 tbsp SL curry powder (or any spice mix or masala)
1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
salt & pepper, to taste
1 can good quality coconut milk
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish


In a large deep skillet or wok on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the onions & sauté until lightly browned. Add the ginger, garlic, green chilies & curry leaves. Sauté for a few minutes and add the turmeric, SL curry powder, paprika, salt & pepper. Stir & let the spices fry for a few minutes before adding the tomato paste. Let the tomato paste cook with the spices for just a minute or so & then add the tomatoes. Stir-fry until the tomatoes have softened and then add the coconut milk. Stir to combine well and gently add the pieces of fish. Reduce the heat to low, cover & cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the fish is fully cooked through. But do not overcook, the cooking time will depend on the variety of fish as well as its thickness. You can adjust the cooking time accordingly as needed. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and serve with rice.


You can use shrimp instead if you wish or make a vegetarian version of this dish using paneer or tofu & your favorite vegetables.

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