Ever since I left Sri Lanka, I’ve started loving, appreciating and missing typical Sri Lankan food a whole lot more than I ever did while living there. Dishes that I used to hate have become ones that I crave the most now, which includes mallums (a green leaf salad sort), samba rice (a short grain rice which has quite a pungent aroma) and even fish curries and exotic vegetables like lotus root, lady’s fingers (in curry form!), bitter gourd, banana blossom and even kohila!
I often find myself braving little India right after work on Friday evenings just to get my hands on some of these vegetables to keep my taste buds happy and cravings satisfied. The best part is, I have even managed to convince my better half to love and appreciate them; and trust me, that is no easy feat!
The recipe I am sharing today is one such dish that is so uniquely Sri Lankan – loved by many, hated by a few; it sure has an acquired aroma (!!) and taste. The step by step guide shows how to make a fried sprat (ikan bilis) fry, but you can replace it with any type of dried fish. The first picture I posted uses a type of karola (dried fish) I picked up from little India.
Cast of Characters:
- Salted Fish or Dried Sprats/ Ikan Billis
- Onions, Garlic, Curry Leaves, Tomatoes, Green Chilie & a wedge of Lemon/Lime
- Dried Red Chilli, Dried Chilli flakes
- Oil for deep frying or an airfryer
- Wash the salted fish or the dried sprats well and let all the water drain drain off and pat it dry with a kitchen towel to remove any excess water. This step is important as if there’s any excess water, that will cause the oil to splatter all over when frying and also prevent the fish from becoming crisp and crunchy.
- Next either deep fry the fish in a wok with oil or lightly coat the dried fish with oil and airfry for about 12 mins. The below shows how amazingly well the sprats fried using an airfryer and about half a spoon of oil turned out. I really didn’t feel a difference as they were crunchy and delicious just like when deep fried.
- Set the fried fish aside to drain any excess oil if you deep fried it.
- Heat up a pan and add in a spoon of olive oil, followed by the chopped garlic, onions, curry leaves, dried red chilli and fry in a medium heat till golden. Next add in the dried red chilli flakes, green chilli and the chopped tomatoes and stir well.
- Lastly mix in the fried fish and season with a good squeeze of lime or lemon juice. You don’t need to add any extra salt as the fish is usually pretty salty but feel free to add if that’s not the case.
- This goes amazingly well with plain rice and a dhal curry!
I am an American that lived near the southern tip of Sri Lanka, and our neighbor made something like this to go with Kiribath for New Years. I’m not sure if this is the recipe but I can’t remember what she called it (maybe Lunu Morris or Hal masso symbol.) have you ever served this recipe with Kiribath? I know hers had crushed red pepper, karapincha, onions, dried Hal masso. I don’t think it had garlic or lime juice though.
Hey there Emilie!
Thanks for dropping by the blog.
Ahh the lunu miris you are talking about, which if always paired with milk rice (kiribath) is slightly different from the dish I shared. Traditionally it contains maldive fish (umbalakada) and not dried sprats (haalmesso). But perhaps your neightbour did her own twist on the lunu miris by adding sprats.
I will share my version of a lunumiris one days soon too – thanks for the idea!
And though generally this is paired with rice and curries than with kiribath, you can go ahead and give it a go! That’s the beauty of food eh? Let me know if your liked the combination when you give it a go.