Ranji’s Mackerel Curry

The Locals’ Cookbook Sri Lanka by Jon Lewin is the first in a series of travel documentary style cookbooks that follow Jon’s journeys across the world documenting the culture, food, stories and recipes of the people that he met. During his time in Sri Lanka he lived with local families, experiencing the country at grass roots level. 10% of the profits from the sales of his book go back to the people of Sri Lanka.

This month we bring you a mackerel recipe attributed to a lady that Jon calls his Sri Lankan mum –

Jon Lewin picIngredients

400g boneless mackerel fillets

4 tbsp coconut oil

½ tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

3 tsp roasted curry powder

8 cloves of garlic

1 red onion roughly chopped

2 fresh tomatoes quartered

2 capsicums ( peppers) quartered

½ cinnamon stick

2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves

1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk

100 ml fish stock

Juice of ½ lime

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

A handful of fresh coriander


Take a frying pan and place on a medium to high heat, then add half the coconut oil. Once sizzling, add the mackerel, skin side down.

Cook for 2 – 3 minutes until the skin has crisped up nicely. Turn over and fry for another minute. Take out and place on a chopping board.

Place the pan back on a medium to high heat and add the remaining coconut oil. When sizzling, add the mustard seeds. Once they start to spit, add the cumin seeds and curry powder. Fry for 1 minute then add the garlic, onion, tomatoes and capsicums. Fry for another couple of minutes, stirring.

Add the mackerel to the pan with all the remaining ingredients except the lime juice, salt, pepper and coriander, and cook on a medium heat for 10 – 15 minutes or until the oil starts to separate. The cooking time really depends on the size of your fish. Check regularly and when the fish begins to flake apart, it’s done.

Take off the heat and leave to cool for two minutes. Then add the lime juice. Season to taste and finish with a handful of coriander leaves, if using, and serve.

Serves 4


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