Tamarind Claypot Fish & Coconut cinnamon cashew slices & Coconut cakes

Written by zsn9


The southwestern coastal town of Ambalangoda first made this dish famous. A classic example of claypot cookery, the tamarind both imparts its characteristic sharp taste and also acts as a preservative. Even in Sri Lanka’s heat and humid- ity, an ambulthiyal can keep for up to a week. Serve with plain rice. 

  •  1 tablespoon dried tamarind pulp soaked in 4 tablespoons water 
  • 500 g (1 lb) fresh tuna or other firm fish
  •  Juice of 1 lime 
  • 4 teaspoons chilli powder
  •  1 teaspoon ground pepper Salt, to taste 
  • 6 cloves 
  • 1 slice fresh ginger 
  • 5 cloves garlic
  •  1 sprig curry leaves 
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) water

Soak the tamarind pulp in 4 tablespoons of water, mash, stir and strain to ob- tain the juice, discarding any solids.

 Cut the fish into eight pieces, wash them well with the lime juice and ar- range the pieces in a single layer in a pan.

 Blend the tamarind juice, chilli powder, pepper, salt and a little water to a paste. Mix this paste with the fish in the pan, coating each piece thoroughly. Add the cloves, ginger, garlic, curry leaves and the water, and bring to a boil. Simmer until all the gravy has reduced and the fish pieces are quite dry, about 15 minutes.

Coconut cakes

  • 2 cups (500 ml) brown syrup or maple syrup 
  • 500 g (5 cups) freshly grated coconut 
  • 250 g (1 1/4 cups) dried mung beans, dry-roasted 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 200 g (1 1/2 cups) rice flour 
  • Oil, for deep-frying

Heat the syrup to simmering point and add the grated coconut. Stir contin- uously for 10 minutes then remove from the heat and set aside. 

Coarsely grind the mung beans in a blender to obtain a flour.

Combine the ground mung beans with the syrup and mix into a paste. Shape the paste into 2.5-cm (1-in) round balls using the palms of the hands. Roll the balls on the rice flour until it coats them well.

Heat the oil and deep-fry the balls until gold- en brown. Makes about 30 pieces.

Coconut cinnamon cashew slices

  • 350 g (1 ³/4 cups) sugar 
  • 700 g (7 cups) unsweetened desiccated coconut
  •  2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
  •  1/4 teaspoon clove powder
  •  200 g (1 2/3 cups) raw cashew nuts, dry-roasted and chopped in a food pro- cessor 
  • Pinch of salt

Place the sugar in a pan. Heat while stirring continuously until the sugar melts and begins to thicken. Add the coconut, cinnamon and clove powder. Stir the mixture until it pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Add the cashew nuts and stir well.

Remove from the heat. Oil a baking tray, or stainless steel or wooden table top, and roll the hot nut mixture into a thin layer about 2 cm (3/4 in) thick. Cut into 2.5-cm (1-in) squares and allow to cool.

Cashew brittle

  • 1 kg (2 lbs) raw cashew nuts
  •  500 g (2 1/2 cups) suga

Roast the cashew nuts in a slow oven (150°C/300°F) until golden brown. Re- move from the oven and cool.

Crush the nuts into small, even chunks using a rolling pin.

 Caramelise the sugar in a frying pan.

Stir in the nuts with a spatula.

Oil a baking tray, or stainless steel, or wooden table top and roll the hot nut mixture into a thin layer about 12 mm (1/2 in) thick. Cut into 2.5-cm (1-in) squares and allow to cool