Simply speaking, this recipe is the Jaffna interpretation of French bouillabaisse. It's a hearty seafood dish, flavoured with chilli and tamarind.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (64 votes)


  • 100 g palmyra flour
  • 200 ml water
  • ¼ cup sambar rice
  • 1 young jackfruit, roughly chopped, seeds reserved
  • 2 blue swimmer crabs
  • 10 tiger prawns
  • 6 whiting fillets, bones removed
  • 3 squid, skin removed, cleaned
  • ¼ bunch snake beans
  • 300 g clams, cleaned, pre-cooked
  • ¼ cup drumstick leaf
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • bread, to serve

Chilli paste

  • 6 dried chillies
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Tamarind water

  • 1 golf ball-size piece tamarind 
  • 125 ml (½ cup) water

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.


Soaking time: 1 hour

Place the palmyra flour in a bowl with 100 ml of the water. Set aside to soak for about 1 hour, or until the mixture forms a paste.

To make the chilli paste, place the dried chillies in a small bowl. Cover with water and soak for 5-6 minutes. Drain and place in the jug of a blender. Add the lime juice, salt and pepper. Blend for 30 seconds or until a paste forms. Set aside until ready to use.

Meanwhile, combine the tamarind and water in a small bowl and mix until a thick paste forms. Set aside until ready to use.

Heat 100 ml of water, rice and the jackfruit seeds in a large pot over medium heat. Cover and cook for 7-8 minutes, or until the jackfruit seeds start to float.

Meanwhile, prepare the seafood. Remove the tails, shells and gills from the crabs and cut into quarters. Shake out the innards and set aside.

Remove the heads and shells from the prawns. Set aside.

Cut the whiting fillets into 4-5 pieces. Set aside.

Cut the squid into even chunks. Set aside.

Add the jackfruit flesh to the rice and jackfruit seed mixture. Stir to combine. Increase heat to high and bring the mixture to the boil. When boiling, add the crab and stir to combine. Cover and boil for a few minutes, or until the crab turns pink.

Add the whiting fillets and cover.

When the fish starts to turn white, add the squid and prawns. Gently stir once, so as not to break up the seafood.

Season with salt and pepper. Add the snake beans and a small amount of the chilli paste. Cover and boil for a further 3 minutes.

Remove all the seafood from the pot and set aside in a large bowl.

Add a small amount of the tamarind water to the soup and season to taste. Add more of the tamarind water if needed.

Add 3 tbsp of the palmyra flour paste to the soup. Stir to combine.

Continue to boil until the soup is thick and glossy. Return the seafood to the pot, along with the clams and drumstick leaf. Stir once to combine. Add more tamarind water, chilli paste or salt and pepper, as required. Remove from heat and serve with fresh, crusty bread.