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Peter Kuruvita's Sri Lankan recipes


Please enjoy some recipes from Peter Kuruvita’s cooking master class on Sri Lankan food.

Squid Curry


350 g (12 oz) medium squid, cleaned, heads and tentacles reserved
3 pieces goroka
¼ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
50g (13/4 oz) ghee
½ onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 sprig curry leaves, leaves picked
2 small green chillies, chopped
300ml (10 ½ fl oz) coconut milk
100ml (3 ½ fl oz) coconut cream
juice of ½ lime


Cut the squid tubes into 1cm (1/2 in), thick slices, then place in a bowl.

Add the tentacles, cleaned heads, goroka, all the spices and ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper and combine well.

Heat the ghee in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat.

Add the onion, garlic, curry leaves and chilli and cook, stirring regularly for 4 minutes or until golden.

Increase the heat to high, add the squid and stir for 3 minutes, then add the coconut milk.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until the squid is tender.

Stir in the coconut cream and lime juice and season to taste with salt. You should be left with a thick dark sauce.

Lagoon Prawns with Ladies’ Finger Sambol


2 potato, peeled and cut into balls using a melon baller
2 carrot, peeled and cut into balls using a melon baller
1 large beetroot, peeled and cut into balls using a melon baller
12 jumbo prawns
pinch pepper
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
juice of 1 lime

For the Ladies’ Finger Sambol
1 lt oil
300g ladies finger (okra)
½ tsp salt
pinch pepper
juice of 1 lime

For the Pangratata
50g butter
50ml olive oil
2 clovers garlic, very finely chopped
2 thick crust less slices bread, cut into small cubes
1 prawn, chopped

For the Garnishes
6 gotu kola leaves, julienned
tomato, cut into wedges
chilli, finely chopped
maldive fish
red onion, peeled and finely diced


Place the potato and carrot into a large pot over medium heat with enough water to cover.

Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until just cooked. Drain and plunge into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside until ready to use.

In a separate pot over medium heat, place the beetroot and enough water to cover it. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until just cooked.

Drain and plunge into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside until ready to use.

To make the pangratata, heat the oil and butter in a medium pot over high heat until the mixture starts to froth.

Once the oil and butter are bubbling and frothy, add the garlic. Fry until fragrant.

Add the bread cubes and fry until the bread is crisped and golden, stirring occasionally.

Add the prawn and fry until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and drain the bread, reserving the oil to cook the prawns.

Chop the bread up into smaller cubes and set aside until ready to serve.

To cook the okra, heat the oil in a large pot over high heat until it reaches smoking point. Add the okra in batches, frying for a few minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

Place in a bowl with the salt, pepper and lime juice and toss to coat. Set aside until ready to serve.

Shell, devein and wash the prawns. If necessary, trim the prawns so that they are of similar sizes to ensure even cooking. Season with pepper.

Heat the reserved oil from the pangratata in a medium pan and season the pan with salt.

Once the oil is hot, add the prawns and fry for a few minutes, or until cooked on one side.
Turn the prawns over and continue to fry for a minute, or until cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to serve.

Drain the potato, carrot and beetroot and add to the pan used to cook the prawns.

Stir to coat the vegetables in the leftover oil, seasoning further if necessary. Stir in the butter and lime juice and remove from heat to serve.

Place a small portion of the ladies’ finger sambol on each plate, topped with a tomato wedge and sprinkled with the chopped chilli, maldive fish and diced onion. Then place two prawns on each plate, sprinkled with the pangratata, accompanied by the vegetables. Sprinkle the entire dish with the julienned gotu kola.

Jaffna Crab Curry


2 live mud crabs, about 1.2kg (2lb 12 oz) each
400ml (14 fl oz) coconut milk
1 ball of tamarind golf ball size
1 tbsp Jaffna curry powder
1 tbsp chilli powder
2 tsp cumin seeds,
½ cup fresh grated coconut
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
¼ tsp ground turmeric
50g (1 ¾ oz) ghee
1 spanish onion sliced
1 sprig curry leaves, leaves picked
3 small green chillies, finely chopped
½ litre water
1 sprig of drumstick leaves
juice of ½ limes


Put the crabs in the freezer for 1 hour to immobilise them. Pull off the top shells, pull out the spongy grey gills and remove the guts. Chop the crab into 6 pieces, then crack the large claws but leave them attached.

Roast the cumin seeds, coconut and pepper till the coconut is golden brown. Grind to a smooth past and put aside.

Heat the ghee in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat, add the mustard seeds till they start to pop, then add the fennel seeds till they brown, add onions, curry leaves, chillies and cook for a few minutes or until the onions are golden.

Add the curry powder, chilli powder and turmeric mix in and add the crab and cook for another 3 minutes, at this stage you need to stir it a lot so the spices don’t burn.

Then add the coconut mixture, stir and add the water. If the curry is too dry add more water.

Cover and simmer for 12 minutes or until crab is just cooked through and sauce has thickened. Stir in the drumstick leaves, lime juice and season to taste with salt.

Kirri Hodi

Place all the ingredients except the coconut milk and lime juice into a heavy-based saucepan.

Add 1 cup water and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes or until the onions are soft.

Stirring continuously, add the coconut milk and stir for 1-2 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil.

Remove from the heat, season to taste with salt and add the lime juice.

Note: It is important to keep stirring the mixture after adding the coconut milk to prevent the milk from coagulating.

Coconut Sambol

Fresh pol sambol is great with everything and is served with nearly every meal. We used to wait until the hot bread arrived from the bakery next door and then put a big spoonful of it on the hot bread.

Fresh coconut should be used with this dish as dry or desiccated is just not as juicy.
When we first arrived in Australia in 1979 it was very hard to get a fresh coconut so we used to re constitute the desiccated with some warm water. It’s not as good as fresh, but is acceptable.

I have used paprika solely to give the sambol a rich red colour; you can use more red chilli if you want it very hot. The sambol is supposed to be an orangey red colour

In a large mortar and pestle grind the peppercorns and Maldive fish.

Add the onions and crush them well.

Stir in the chilli and paprika and mince to a coarse paste.

Add the coconut and pound together so the coconut and paste are thoroughly combined.

Add the lime a little at a time so it is not sour and season with salt.

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