Srilankan Fish Curry

Fish is one of the staples in a Bengali household and most of our lunch and dinners tend to revolve around it. Being a Bengali and an advocate of healthy food habits, I consciously make an effort to include lean protein into my diet. I am constantly looking for new recipes to play with and recently stumbled upon ‘The Sri Lankan Fish Curry’ which is an explosion of aromas & flavours in a bite – creamy & coconut-y, sour & tangy and of course fishy!


  • For the Masala (Roast & Grind)
  • 1 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2 Tbsp Fennel Seeds
  • 1/2 Tsp Fenugreek Seeds
  • 1 Inch Cinnamon Stick
  • 3 – 4 Cloves
  • 3 – 4 Green Cardamom
  • 10 Curry Leaves
  • 1 Tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 3 – 4 Dry Red Chillies
  • 2 Dry Lemon Grass (Keya)
  • For the Gravy
  • 500gms Rohu Fish (Luscious)
  • 1 Large Onion, Ground
  • 3 Medium Tomatoes, Chopped
  • 2 Green Chillies Slit
  • 1 Tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
  • 10 Curry Leaves
  • 2 Dry Lemon Grass (Keya)
  • 1/2 Tsp Black Mustard Seeds
  • 1/2 Tsp Turmeric (Eastern)
  • 1/2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder (MDH)
  • 2 Tsp Tata Salt, Adjust According to Taste
  • 1 Tbsp Tamarind Pulp
  • 200ml Coconut Milk (Dabur Homemade)
  • 2 Tbsp Sunflower Oil (Fortune)
  • Extra Oil for Deep Frying The Fish


Prep: 45 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes

  1. Marinate the darnes of fish with salt and turmeric and rest for 5 mins. Heat oil in a pan and deep fry the fish until golden. Set aside.
  2. Now, roast the whole spices until fragrant and blend them into a fine powder once cooled. The curry leaves should be added at the end to prevent them from burning. This freshly ground powder is used to flavour the curry.
  3. Heat oil in a wok and add black mustard seeds, lemongrass and curry leaves and let them splutter. Then add the slit green chillies and ground onion. Sauté till the raw smell goes off.
  4. Now add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for another minute.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes followed by dry spices & freshly ground powder and cook till the masala leaves oil. Add a splash of water to prevent the spices from burning.
  6. Add the tamarind pulp and a cup of water. Bring it to a boil.
  7. Finally, add the coconut milk and mix well. Adjust seasoning, if required. Let the curry simmer for approximately 5 mins before adding the fish.
  8. Let it simmer for another 5 mins and remove from flame once the curry leaves oil.
  9. Garnish it with a spring of coriander. Serve hot with freshly steamed rice.
  10. Notes: The recipe traditionally uses skinless white fish which are poached in the gravy. I, however, have used a medium-size Rohu fish and have deep-fried the darnes before adding it to the gravy.