Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sri Lankan Cuttlefish Curry

Currently, I am in Sri Lanka, doing a Photography Residency for a month. Being away doesn't mean I am not in the position to whip up a good meal for husband and I. Upon arriving here, I just knew I had to get my hands on the local dishes. So, the best way to learn this apart from speaking and learning from the neighbours was to pick up a locally published cookbook.
Sri Lankans are mostly Buddhist, therefore, most of its dishes are vegetarian. However, there are dishes that are non-vegetarian and very much seafood and chicken base. Because Sri Lanka is an island, the seafood here is as fresh as you can get your hands on - the only thing you need to be sure of is to know where to purchase your fish and how to identify the freshness. Like any new place, it is always good to go to the markets the first time with a local so you get the best deal and not get tourist prices. Thankfully, I had my host and rickshaw driver to assist me on my outings to the market.

This curry dish is very similar to the Negeri Sembilan masak lemak cili api, only difference is that, the base of this coconut stew dish is mainly curry powder and other spices that are commonly used in Malaysian local cuisines. However, the curry powder here seems to be a blend that incorporates more cumin and corriander I believe, as the powder looks more green. So, I have added a bit of tumeric to make the colour stand out. The tomatoes do add a bit of an orange tint to the stew. Perhaps I did buy the wrong curry powder, but that was the only option available in the supermarket in town. The recipe does not require any sauteing or pre-frying onions to a soft texture. It is all put in a pot and left to cook on the stove.

It was just my luck that day, because the day I chose to cook, was the day we had local company for lunch. So I had my tasting group ready to rate my cooking ... Although the colour may have not turned out orange red like what I could see in the cookbook - but I was very pleased to hear that this recipe I cooked is .... "Very much Sri Lankan!" .... as how my guest had put it. SCORE for CIB! 

Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes  


500 g of cuttlefish
2 large onions wedged
2 tomatoes wedged
2 garlic pods sliced
2 inches of garlic crushed 
4 Curry leaves stems
1 tsp of curry
1/4 tumeric
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/4 crushed pepper
1 cup of thin coconut milk
2 cups of thick coconut milk
3 green chillies halved
1/2 tsp of sliced Pandanus leaf
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder or 1 stick
salt, sugar to taste

  1. Wash the cuttlefish and set aside. Marinate it with the thick coconut milk and 2 stems of the curry leaves. 
  2. Put all the other ingredients into a pot and let it simmer to boiling point, be sure to stir the coconut milk to ensure that it does not start to curdle. Use a medium to low heat. 
  3. When the gravy thickens slightly, add into this the cuttlefish and the rest of the remaining ingredients. Let boil and season. 

Hope you enjoy this one as much as my husband and out guest did. More Sri Lankan recipes to come for this month of November. 


  1. This looks very delish Erna! Very exotic looking bowl too!

  2. Lase 2 year i Driver to Sri Lanka.I hope Sri Lanka Driver nice place.


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