Using a technique to preserve fish, Peter Kuruvita shares this fiery curry recipe from the south of Sri Lanka. The goroka is a preservative and souring agent and a key part of the paste which was used in the past to cover fish and help preserve it for 3–4 days.






Skill level

Average: 4.5 (11 votes)


  • ½ tsp ground cumin seeds
  • 2 green cardamom pods, seeded
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bird's-eye chillies
  • 5 pieces of goroka, soaked in tepid water for 30 minutes and minced (see Note)
  • 2 cm piece ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp Sri Lankan roasted curry powder
  • 450 g bonito, or tuna steak, cut into 3 cm cubes
  • 2 curry leaf sprigs, leaves picked
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp salt

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


In a mortar and pestle, lightly grind cumin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, mustard seeds, black pepper, birdseye chillies, goroka, ginger and garlic. Add the ground powders and 100 ml water to make a paste.

Preheat oven to 180°C. In a terracotta pot, massage the paste through the bonito cubes. Add curry leaves, pandan leaf and 150 ml water. Add lime juice, season with salt and cover the dish with foil. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.


• Curry can be wrapped in banana leaf parcels with rice.
· Goroka is a dried product made from the fruit of a native Indonesian tree and is sometimes referred to as Malabar tamarind or brindleberry. It can be found at Asian supermarkets.