This is adapted from Hilda Deutrom’s recipe in her foundational Ceylon Daily News Cookbook.

Pindun Fish Curry

A fish curry using roasted spices
Course Main Course
Cuisine Sri Lankan
Keyword curry, fish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • 1 kg fish - scaled and boned You want fish that gives you good thickish chunks and holds its shape when cooking.
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 grinds pepper
  • 500 ml cooking oil
  • 50 g onion Small red onions are excellent, or shallots, but any onion will do
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 thin slices ginger
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 2 tsp roasted spice mix See recipe on this site
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds Optional
  • 5 cm stick of cinnamon
  • 5 cm stalk of lemongrass
  • 1 or 2 red chillies
  • 1 tsp tamarind extract Optional. You can substitute a lime
  • 500 ml thick coconut milk
  • 1 tsp white vinegar


  • Cut the fish into bite size chunks.
  • Put the fish in a bowl. Add 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 grinds pepper. Mix this all together till the fish chuks are coated in the spices.
  • Put the 500 ml of cooking oil in the wok and turn the neat up high on the stove. Let it heat up for 3 or 4 minutes. Test the oil is ready by putting a piece of fish into it. If it sizzles and bubbles, it's ready. If not let it heat up a couple of minutes more and see if a piece of fish sizzles. It should by now. If not you may need to urn up the heat
  • Deep fry the fish in small batches for 1 minute per batch.
  • While the first batch of fish is frying line a baking tray or a plate with some kitchen/absorbent paper.
  • As each batch of fish is fried, lift it out with a slotted spoon and put it on the kitchen/absorbent paper which will absorb some of the oil.
  • Your fried fish should look something like this - lightly golden in colour.
  • Get some more sheets of kitchen/absorbent paper and cover the fish with it. This is to soak up some of the oil from the top side of the fried fish.
  • Chop 50 gm of onion, 2 cloves of garlic and 2 thin slices of ginger into small pieces.
  • Strip the leaflets off the curry leaf sprig.
  • Chop the lemongrass stalk into a few pieces.
  • Put 3 or 4 tablespoons of the oil you have fried the fish in into a sauce on a high heat on the stove.
  • Add to the saucepan the 50 gms chopped onion, the 2 cloves of garlic chopped, the 2 thin slices of ginger chopped and the leaflets of curry leaves. Let this cook for 1 or 2 minutes.
  • Add to the saucepan the roasted spices, cinnamon stick, lemongrass, fenugreek seeds, and let this all cook for 1 or 3 minutes.
  • Chop the chillies very small and add them to the saucepan.
  • Add the 500 ml thick coconut milk to the saucepan.
  • Add the teaspoon of tamarind extract. If using a lime, cut it in half and squeeze the juice of half of it into the saucepan.
  • Add 1 tsp white vinegar to the saucepan.
  • Bring this to the boil, turn it down till it is simmering and let it cook for 15 minutes.
  • Take the kitchen/absorbent paper off the fried fish and add it to the saucepan.
  • Let the fish cook in the sauce for 5 minutes. It is now ready to serve.