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Fish Curry Recipe

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The view from my room at Hikka Tranz hotel by Cinnamon Hotels.

The view from my room at Hikka Tranz hotel by Cinnamon Hotels in Sri Lanka.

Check out that view! This was taken from the balcony of my room at Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon Hotels just as the sun was going down.

I may have been exhausted after an eleven hour flight from Heathrow to Colombo and another two hour drive to the hotel but there was no way I was going to rest.

I’d waited too long to make it to this part of the world and I wanted to get out and experience it.

Marco Pierre White and the Curry Guy, Dan Toombs

After reading his books, it was great to meet Marco.

First stop was a cocktail party by the sea where I met Marco Pierre White! What a great guy. I just finished reading about his rather eventful and impressive life in his autobiography “Devil in the Kitchen“, so to meet him in person was a great way to start my trip off in Sri Lanka.

After a few strong adult beverages, it was time to enjoy a feast that was put on by Executive Chef Julinda Pushpakumara.

There’s too much to show and tell you about so I’m going to have to do that in a later post. For now, I would like to show you a fish curry recipe that Chef Julinda demonstrated to me and a few new food blogger friends the following morning.

Julinda took us first to the fish market where he purchases fish for the hotel’s restaurants.

Fisherman display their catch that they brought in just a couple hours earlier. You can’t get much fresher than that.

Fish market near Hikka Tranz

What an experience!

Fish market

I wish we had a market like this near my home 


For his recipe, Julinda was looking for pavow fish and managed to snap up the last few.

I’d never tried or heard of pavow. I liken it in flavour and texture to halubut. Halibut is what I’ll be using when I cook this fish curry recipe at home as it’s a lot easier to come by.

Pavow is red in colour so if using white halibut it won’t look the same as photographed.

With his Executive Sous Chef Saman Kumara, Julinda demonstrated this fish curry recipe step by step. Now I would like to show it to you so that you can taste a bit of Sri Lanka at home.

If you like seafood, you’re in for a treat. This dish is so Sri Lankan. Not only was the freshest fish used but there was an emphasis on cinnamon, black pepper and cardamom which were all used in the marinade and sauce.

These are all part of the homegrown ingredients that make Sri Lankan food so good.

Fish curry

What a presentation!


Making fish curry

A couple of the pavow cleaned and ready to prepare.


Making fish curry

Chef Julinda cutting the fish first into steaks and then cubes.


Making fish curry

Marinating the fish. I recommend about 45 minutes to marinate fish like this.


Making fish curry

After the fish was marinated, Chef Julinda skewered it with onions and green chillies.


Making fish curry

Sauce made! Recipe below.


Making fish curry

Covered in the sauce and ready for baking.


If you like this recipe for fish curry why not try these similar ones:

Keralan Fish Curry
Goan Fish Curry
Halibut Fish Curry
Fish Curry with Coconut & Chilli
Spicy Fish Curry with Naga Chillies
Monkfish Curry

Yield: 4 - 6

Fish Curry Recipe From Hikka Tranz By Cinnamon Hotels

Making fish curry
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 1 kilo (2 lbs.) meaty fish like halibut or povow if you can get it
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon chilli powder (more or less to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon dried red chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • Juice of two limes
  • A handful of green chillies
  • 1 red onion - quartered


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 green cardamon pods
  • 1 red onion – roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic – roughly chopped
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger – finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoon – finely chopped lemongrass
  • 3 green chillies – roughly chopped (more or less to taste)
  • 2 tomatoes – roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons – roughly chopped pandan leaves
  • 20 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (more or less to taste)
  • 500ml (2 cups) coconut milk
  • Juice of two or more limes
  • More salt and pepper to taste


  1. Start by marinating your fish. Pour the oil over the cubed fish and then add the spices and salt.
  2. Mix it all up and allow to marinate for 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.
  4. Pour the vegetable oil into a large pan over medium high heat. When it begins to bubble, add the cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom pods.
  5. Fry for about 30 seconds to allow the oil to take on the flavour of the spices and then add the curry leaves, pandan leaves, onion and ginger.
  6. Cook this until the onion becomes translucent and soft and the add the garlic and green chillies.
  7. Let this sizzle for a minute or so and pour in the chopped tomatoes,
  8. Stir this all up nicely to combine and add black pepper, chilli powder and turmeric.
  9. Turn up the heat slightly and add the coconut milk. bring to a simmer to allow it to thicken slightly.
  10. Pre-heat your oven to 180c (350f).
  11. Skewer the cubed fish, red onion and green chillies and place in a roasting pan.
  12. Cover the fish with the sauce and cook for about 15 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
  13. Season with salt and perhaps a little more black pepper to taste.
  14. Serve with rice and a little green salad.

Did you like this recipe?

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I would like to thank Julinda and Saman for this fantastic recipe. It was incredible.

Disclaimer: I was a guest of Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon Hotels Sri Lanka. I absolutely loved my stay and highly recommend this hotel. I can’t wait to bring my family back next time and will do that sooner rather than later! That room, location and of course the food will ensure we do. I was flown round trip from Heathrow to Colombo courtesy or SriLankan Airlines. I couldn’t recommend this airline enough. Excellent service.

Hikka Tranz

Another view from my hotel room. Spectacular!


Peter Cryan

Saturday 13th of February 2016

Looks great and I have been searching for a great Sri Lankan fish curry since having several on Regent cruises through Sri Lanka and India last year. Can you tell me what Pierre White was on in that photo as I would like some!!!!

Thanks Peter

Roxanne Bamboat

Wednesday 3rd of February 2016

I need to try this recipe asap ! Great photos too :)

Dan Toombs

Friday 5th of February 2016

Thanks Roxanne. :-)

Jonny M

Sunday 31st of January 2016

Thanks for sharing such a great recipe and fancy meeting Marco Pierre White! .

Can you recommend any good restsurants you may have discovered in Hikkaduwa or Gale as we're going to stay at this very hotel soon and hope to also eat out? I may also be doing a brief cooking course in Gale.

PS I wonder if pavow a type of trevally as I can't find any reference to it online?

Dan Toombs

Saturday 27th of February 2016

Hi Jonny

Have fun in Sri Lanka. Beautiful place. I'm sorry but I can't really recommend any restaurant other than those I tried at Cinnamon Hotels. They were amazing. I was only there for a week though.


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