As you’d expect from an island in the Indian Ocean, seafood plays an important role in Sri Lankan cuisine.
Fish ambul thiyal (sour fish curry) is one of the most beloved varieties of the many different fish curries available. The fish — usually something large and firm, such as tuna — is cut into cubes, then sauteed in a blend of spices including black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, pandan leaves and curry leaves. Perhaps the most important ingredient is dried goraka, a small fruit responsible for giving the fish a sour flavor.
Ambul thiyal is a dry curry dish, meaning all the ingredients are simmered with a small amount of water and cooked until the liquid reduces. This allows the spice mixture to coat each cube of fish. Originating in southern Sri Lanka, it’s available throughout the country at restaurants that serve curry, and is best eaten with rice.