Sri Lankan Fish Curry

Sri Lankan Fish Curry
Whole spices give this fish curry an impossible-to-place depth.Jason Lang

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.

Sri Lankan Fish Curry
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.
Yield: serves 4
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pieces goraka (14 oz.), also known as fish tamarind or Garcinia cambogia
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 flat stick cinnamon, broken into large pieces
  • 14 cup coconut oil
  • 1 12 tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 2 inches pandan leaf, cut in 4 pieces (optional)
  • 12 fresh curry leaves
  • 2-3 mall green chiles, such as Thai style, stemmed and split lengthwise
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (½ cup)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 tsp. chili powder
  • 12 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 plum tomato (5½ oz.), cut into thin wedges
  • 1 12 lb. tuna or other lean, firm-fleshed fish, preferably skin on, cut into 2-inch 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

Instructions

  1. Soak the goraka in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain and finely chop.
  2. Meanwhile, using a small food processor, spice grinder, or mortar and pestle, grind together the cardamom, garlic, ginger, and cinnamon to make a chunky paste.
  3. In a wok or large, deep pan, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the prepared spice mixture and the coriander and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. One at a time but working quickly, stir in the pandan leaf (if using), curry leaves, chiles, lemongrass, and shallot. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the salt, chili powder, turmeric, tomato, and goraka; let cook, stirring occasionally, 2–3 minutes. Add the fish, tossing gently to adhere the seasoning to all sides. Cover and let cook for about 30 seconds, then stir in the black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ¾ cup water; let cook 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers; cover and cook for 5 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve.