Bream with garlic, saffron and preserved lemons

“As the Italian say, cook with love and passion. Which I translate as: enjoy it, give it time and patience, and be tender.Niamh Shields

I totally agree. Sometimes, cooking feels like meditation, all the stars aligned. I remember the first time I felt like this. Or perhaps the first time I consciously noticed feeling like this. It was over a big pot of ragu for lasagne. Everything felt just right: calm, complete, whole, balanced. I was happy and connected. And the dish turned out just delicious.

It’s similar with flavours, but the feeling is stronger and shorter. Like a dart of pleasure, a stronger connection, but one that lasts a shorter time. Some combinations just hit the right note. Like a culinary, gustatory G-spot. They’re simply perfect. Such as the flavours in Claudia Roden’s chicken tagine with lemon and olives, which were a springboard for this dish. I thought how well its flavours of lemon, saffron and herbs would go with fish. And then I made it and they did go together  so well.


Cuttlefish stew – Brudet od sipa

After my photographic distractions (which I very much enjoy, and I hope you like them, too), I’m continuing with my Croatian posts.


Brudet is a fish stew of humble origins. Fishermen used to prepare it to use up left over catch that they didn’t manage to sell. So whatever didn’t go at the market, ended up in the pot.

One of my favourite brudets is my mum’s dark and rich, unctuous sauce you can see above. It’s made with cuttlefish, and served with warm polenta.


Cuttlefish Brudet



SOURCE: My mum’s recipe


COOKING TIME: 40 – 60 min

CUISINE: Croatian (Dalmatian)

SERVES: 6 – 8




Vegetable/olive oil

6 medium yellow onions, chopped finely

2 large carrot, grated

1.5 kg cuttlefish, cut into pieces


1/2 medium head of garlic, cloves chopped finely

a small handful of parsley, chopped finely

a bit of chopped celery leaf

1/2 tbsp tomato pure

2 dl white wine

5 – 6 bay leaves

salt, pepper



1. Fry the onions for a little in some vegetable or olive oil. Add grated carrots. Fry the carrot and onion mixture, stirring occasionally, until it becomes soft, and the onions become slightly browned. Be patient, as this can take a while. Please don’t be tempted to do this quickly, this is important, and it will form the base of the stew, in which the onion acts as a thickening agent.

2. Now add the cuttlefish, and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cuttlefish is cooked, and the onions start melting into the sauce.  Add water if it starts sticking.

3.   Add the garlic and the herbs, some salt and pepper, and keep stirring.

4. When the onion is softened, and starts disintegrating into the sauce (or a little before that if you’re in a hurry), add a little more water,and when the water evaporates, and some more to form a thick sauce. The herb and the garlic will still taste a little raw. Continue cooking until the flavours deepen and mellow together. The cuttlefish will become soft, too.

5. Towards the end of cooking, add the white wine and the bay leaf, adjust the seasoning, and cook  for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Serve warm with polenta. Also good with crusty bread!

My dad likes a drizzle of olive oil over his brudet. Give it a go if you fancy it.


Note: Squid also works in this recipe.

ps. Also try some warm polenta with yoghurt! I love it!


I’m submitting this to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging event, hosted by Anna of Anna’s Cool Finds. This event, originally started by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen, is organised by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything.

Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets with coriander

If you don’t have curry leaves, you can use fresh coriander in Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets.  The other day, I  I made the fish cakes with coriander, instead of curry leaves, and lemon instead of lime juice. I also add about a tbsp of desiccated coconut. It worked great!

Sri Lankan fish cutlets

Sri Lankan Fish Curry – Meen Kulambu

Our next stop on the fragrant Sri Lankan curry leaf trail: Jasmine’s Sri Lankan Fish Curry. Hot, sweet, sour – this curry has one of my favourite taste combinations. The tomato base is mellowed by adding just the right amount of coconut milk, the one that creates a balance of flavour, rather than overpowering the dish with the taste of coconut. (As much as I love coconut, Jasmine’s technique of using coconut as a supporting flavour was a revelation, and gave a new dimension to my coconut appreciation!) As ever, a fragrance of curry leaves envelopes the dish (and your kitchen), which I love.

Delicious and very quick to make, this is another of Jasmine’s recipes, and it’s another winner. You know now why I fell in love with Sri Lankan food!

The photo below was also taken by my friend A, while I was cooking.





Sri Lankan Fish Curry – Meen



SOURCE: Jasmine

PREPARATION TIME: about 10 – 15 min (mainly to skin the fish)

COOKING TIME: 10 – 15 min

CUISINE: Sri Lankan




1 yellow onion, thinly sliced or chopped

a handful of curry leaves

a pinch of salt

2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

100 g tomato puree

1/2 tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds

1 dsp Sri Lankan chilli powder (or less if you prefer less heat)

700 g salmon, skinned and chopped into

1/2 cup coconut milk

a few pieces of pandan leaf, if you have it (optional)



1. Fry the onion together with curry leaves and a pinch of salt, just enough to soften it.

2. Add garlic, fenugreek and tomato paste, and cook for a few minutes until the smell of the tomato paste has mellowed, and lost its raw taste.

3. Add the chilli powder to the tomato mixture, and cook through for a few minutes.

4. Stir in the coconut milk. (If you are cooking this in advance, you can stop at this point and continue later, adding the fish and cooking it before serving. )

5. Add the salmon pieces and cook on medium low or low heat until they’re cooked through. It’s best to go slowly here, taking care not to overcook the fish. Add the pandan leaf if you have some (which I usually don’t), and adjust the salt to taste.

Serve with rice, or as a part of a delicious Sri Lankan fish feast:



More Sri Lankan Food at Maninas:

The aroma of curry leaves: Sri Lankan cooking (Introduction)

Sri Lankan spices (including recipes for Sri Lankan garam masala, curry powder and more!)

Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and leek with coconut (V)

Sri Lankan coconut dhal (V)

Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets

Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry (V)

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Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets (the recipe)

Here is the recipe for Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets that I promised earlier.

I love these delicious fish cakes, or fish cutlets. This is the best way to use the humble tinned tuna, I promise! Serve them as snacks, or perhaps in sandwiches. I had them with thin slices of raw red onion, and it worked just great, though I must admit I usually really don’t like raw onion.

UPDATE 22 May 2010: I made the fish cakes with coriander, instead of curry leaves, and lemon instead of lime juice. I also add about a tbsp of dessicated coconut. It worked great!





Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets


SOURCE:  Jasmine

PREPARATION TIME: about 15 min


CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 3 – 4 (makes about 14 – 15 6 cm wide fishcakes) 



2 medium potatoes, cubed

2 tins of tuna

½ medium red onion, chopped finely

2 – 3 green chillies, chopped finely, deseeded if you wish

A few springs of curry leaves, shredded (I used 4, but I like curry leaves a lot)

½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground (or coarsely ground cumin and black pepper mixture)

½ tsp or more Sri Lankan chili powder

2 tbsp breadcrumbs, plus extra for coating

Lime juice to taste (start with ½ lime, and add more if you want)


2 medium eggs, beaten (or one large, with a little bit of water stirred in)

Oil for deep frying





1.      Boil the potatoes until soft. When they’re done, drain the potatoes and leave to cool in the sieve. You want the water from the potatoes to evaporate, so do leave them for long enough.

2.      In the meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients except for the salt and lime juice, and mix them in a bowl. When the potatoes have cooled down, mash them and add to the mixture in the bowl. Add the lime juice and salt to taste.

3.      Time to shape the cutlets! Take about a golf-ball sized amount of mixture and roll it into a ball. Next, flatten the ball, dip into the egg, and then into bread crumbs. Do all the cutlets in this way.

4.      Pour oil into a deep pan, or a wok (which is what I used, and what Jasmine uses), and put on medium high. You’ll need enough oil for deep frying, a few centimeters, I’d say. The oil is hot enough when it sizzles when you insert a wooden spoon inside.

5.      Fry the cutlets for a few min on each side, until they’re heated through and the coating is cooked. Enjoy!



More Sri Lankan Food at Maninas:

 The aroma of curry leaves: Sri Lankan cooking (Introduction)

Sri Lankan spices (including recipes for Sri Lankan garam masala, curry powder and more!)

Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and leek with coconut (V)

Sri Lankan coconut dhal (V)

Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry (V)



      This is my entry for this week’s WHB, hosted by Susan from

      The Well-Seasoned Cook.

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