"Having just moved out of my family’s home the previous week, my new (and little) kitchen was in desperate need of being christened with a Sri Lankan kingfish curry. Plus, although I’ve eaten more than my fair share of these rolls, and have watched on as aunties made them in the hundreds, I’d never actually made them myself, so it was a long-overdue challenge.
The first obstacle was getting used to the fact that I no longer lived in a house with a kitchen stocked with Sri Lankan spice essentials – while shopping, I kept assuming that I had things in my pantry, Curtis Stone-style. Also, after having the luxury of a curry-leaf tree in the backyard of my previous place of residence, heading back to the shops (for the third time) to buy curry leaves certainly hurt! Finally, all necessary ingredients were assembled – it was time to get cooking.
I prepared the batter first and got it into the fridge, and then moved on to the filling for the rolls. I followed Peter’s recipe exactly, with the exception of seeding the green chilli (my grandmother would never have forgiven me). I thought the sweet potato and prawn combination might have been a little too 'cheffed-up’, but it was great – a really subtle twist and didn’t stray too far from the traditional flavours that make these rolls so irresistibly good. Rolling the pancakes tightly with the filling inside was probably the trickiest part, but all in all, they were surprisingly easy to make; just time-consuming.
With the rolls ready, I moved on to the kingfish curry. There are two things to know about Sri Lankan curries – no two families make them exactly the same way and everyone thinks their mum’s version tastes the best (which all our cousins once proved at a family party, with a taste test). So I wasn’t surprised that this recipe was slightly different to the one I’d been passed on and I wasn’t expecting to like it as much, either! The biggest difference was the method of cooking the fish: pan-frying a beautiful piece of fish that tastes great all on its own, and then simply adding the curry sauce, rather than cooking the chunks of fish in the curry to absorb the flavour. It proved to be a fantastic tweak.
I particularly loved Peter’s method of straining the curry so that you end up with a rich, velvety sauce with absolutely no risk of chewing on a cardamom pod, which my siblings and I joke to be the worst thing in the world. We sat down to dinner and it was declared a success. I hope the rest of the people in my apartment block agreed, because the smell of fish curry had permeated our walls and was lingering in the corridors well into the next morning."
As seen in Feast magazine, November 2011, Issue 3. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.