Maalu Ambulthiyal (Sri Lankan Style Sour Fish Curry With Black Pepper & Gambooge)

500g fish
½ onion – sliced
5 tablespoons black pepper
5 - 6 gambooge (goraka)
½ tablespoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric
3 curry leaves
salt - to taste
3 cups water (It is depend on the size of the saucepan)

In a small saucepan boil gambooge with 1/2cup of water. When it is boiled take out the gambooge and minced it with little boiled water. It should be a fine paste in the end.
Cut the fish into pieces and wash it well with salt mix water and put it into a saucepan. Then put all the rest of the ingredients, including gambooge paste into the saucepan & mix well with fish pieces with little water. Do not break the pieces.
Final step is put the rest of the water (2 1/2cups) in to the saucepan and cook the fish in medium heat till the gravy is become so thick.
Taste for salt.

Best is plain rice. But you can have this with bread, roti and also what you like most.

1. It is good if you can take black pepper corns and grind it with boiled gambooge.
Then taste is really nice. But you can use pepper powder also.
2. Fish will give you a good taste if it a dry
3. Try to avoid the spoon to mix the ingredients with fish. Use your hand and wash it well after your work.(Before too)
4. Do not stir the curry with a spoon. it will break the pieces. Just shake the saucepan well.



  1. hay chamari....
    you didnt mention about it not necessary to put garlic when cooking malu ambul thiyal?......hoping a reply soon...
    mmmm...u r doing great job.....
    keep it up....
    your freind

  2. In traditional Sri Lankan cooking garlic is NOT used in dishes associated with fish. Just like most westerners don't mix fish and cheese. It's just one of those things I suppose.

  3. ineed to know maalu ambulthiyal to put some rampa and green chilly....?

  4. Hi Anonymous ( Who is this, you have said, "your friend" can I know the name please :-)
    BTW, thank you for the comment And also I haven´t see people use garlic for Ambulthiyal, but if you like you can try it.

    Thanks for the comment Piumika.

    Hi Nishantha,
    Of cause you can use rampe and Green chilies for ambulthiyal, Only problem is that, I can´t find it where I live now :-). I really miss it :-(

  5. Can we use tamarind instead of goraka? if so Chamari, could you pls tell me how much?
    Great job :)

  6. Hi Marian,
    I haven´t used tamarind for Malu Ambulthiyal, but I know you can use it. (May be there will be a slight difference in the taste) If you use tamarind, use 2 tablespoons tamarind (instead of 5 - 6 pieces goraka) with 1/4cup warm water & make a pulp, remove the seeds & add into the fish :-), hope you will like the dish. thank you for the comment & encouragement :-)

  7. hey Chamari, I've been living in sri lanka for a few years now, and have enjoyed this curry in restaurants and people's homes. Now i shall attempt to make it myself, thank to your recipe.. hope it turns out okay.. BTW, at what stage do you adde the green chillies? and is there no oil to be added to this? ---- Dipti

  8. @ Anonymous,

    Please google ..Tumeric


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