Sri Lankan Fish Curry
Christopher Testani

This relatively mild, lightly sour, and deeply aromatic yellow curry, adapted from Yusra and Mohamed Ali Makim, is a breakfast staple eaten throughout Sri Lanka. Goraka, or Garcinia cambogia, a dried tropical fruit available at specialty spice shops and online, gives the mixture its characteristic sweet-sour flavor. If you can’t find it, rehydrated and deseeded tamarind pulp makes a good substitute. Use as thick a coconut milk as you can find.

Featured in: Our Best Recipes of All Time



Lessons from a tropical island in the Indian Ocean where exuberantly spiced dishes have been influenced by centuries of colonization, migration, and commerce

Featured in: How to Make Fish Rice Like Sri Lanka’s Great Home Cooks
Yield: serves 4
Time: 45 minutes


  • 2 pieces goraka (4 oz.), also known as fish tamarind or Garcinia cambogia
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • One 1-in. piece fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 14 cup coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 11/2 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 2 inches pandan leaf, cut in 4 pieces (optional)
  • 12 fresh curry leaves
  • 2-3 small green chiles, such as Thai style, split lengthwise
  • 2 stalks stalks lemongrass, trimmed and sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (½ cup)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 tsp. chili powder
  • 12 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 medium plum tomato, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 12 lb. tuna or other lean, firm-fleshed fish, preferably skin on, cut into 2-in. chunks
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 14 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 14 tsp. ground clove
  • 14 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 12 cup coconut milk


  1. Soak the goraka in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain and finely chop. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, use a small food processor or mortar and pestle to grind together the cardamom, garlic, ginger, and cinnamon stick to make a chunky paste.
  3. In a wok or large skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat until nearly smoking. Add the spice paste and coriander and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Working one at a time, stir in all of the following ingredients: pandan leaf pieces (if using), curry leaves, chiles, lemongrass, and shallots. Lower the heat to medium, then add the salt, chili powder, turmeric, tomato, and reserved goraka; bring to a simmer, then add the tuna, tossing gently to coat. Cover and cook for about 30 seconds, then stir in the black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ¾ cup water; cook 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and adjust the heat to simmer; cover and cook until the fish is cooked through, 4–5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed before serving.