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image of tuna curry

Sri Lankan tuna curry Ambul Thiyal

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Sri Lankan
Servings 8 Servings


  • 1 Clay Curry Pot


Black curry powder

  • 3 tbsp whole black pepper
  • 3 tbsp whole coriander
  • 1 tsp whole cumin
  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp dry raw white rice
  • 2 tbsp scraped coconut
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds

Fish Curry Seasoning paste

  • 10 pieces malabar tamarind soaked for an hour
  • 4 inch ginger
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp toasted red pepper powder optional
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp black curry powder

Ambul Thiyal curry / Dark tuna curry

  • 1 banana leaf wrap optional but highly recommended
  • 1 lb. cubed tuna stake
  • 2 tbsp Fish curry seasoning paste
  • ½ cup water


Making black curry powder

  • Toast coriander, cumin and curry leaves separately until fragrant and set aside to cool down. Toast them until golden and slightly dark on the edges and completely dry and fragrant.
    black curry seasoning
  • Toast Fenugreek seeds until golden brown. Set aside.
  • Toast fennel seeds until just warm and fragrant, for few seconds.
  • Roast dry rice until it turns milky white and aromatic.
  • Toast the scraped coconut on low heat until turns dark and fragrant.
  • Pound toasted coriander,fennel and cumin, until finely crushed. Add dry rice, black pepper and salt then keep pounding. Work in small batches. Finally transfer the pounded seasoning with fennel, rice and coconut and grind into a fine powder in food processor.
  • Add nutmeg and fenugreek seeds. Store in airtight container.

Making fish curry seasoning from black curry powder

  • Soak malabar tamarind until soft.
  • Add all the ingredients listed under the seasoning paste in the grinder / or nutri blender and grind to a fine paste.
    image of tuna curry

Making ambul thiyal Tuna curry

  • Mix 2 tablespoon of fish curry paste with water and coat the piece of fish with it.
  • Lay a banana leaf at the bottom of the clay pot and place the seasoned tuna cubes on it. Lay another peiece of banana leaf big enough to cover the cubes of fish.
  • Cover with the lid and cook on low heat until the tuna is just done.
  • Turn the cubes of fish gently with a fork as it cooks once or twice, to ensure every piece of fish has an even coating of spice mix around them.
  • Once  cooked through and water has evaporated, turn the heat off and leave on the stove to rest for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Remove banana leaves carefully.
  • Enjoy over milk rice or rice and curry meal
Keyword AmbulThiyal, sri lankan curry, Tuna curry