It’s 5 am in the morning and unlike everyone else I am not about to jump into a jeep and go to the islands most exciting national park Yala in search of the much prized leopard or sloth bears “walaha” that are currently punch drunk on these sweet yellow berries called “Palu”. I am in contrast heading off with the hotels executive chef to find myself a cat fish to cook over an a open fire, or mini shark if I can find one at Kirinda fishing harbour. The place was a buzz of dealers in brightly coloured sarongs, old school note books open while they haggle over the cost of the days catch and various sizes of scales are hung up to weigh todays main haul which is sadly a rather large amount of Eratavalla is like a tough tuna fish.
After picking the freshest fish we purchase several types of vegetables and head off in a buggy across the dunes to the glamping cooking site, which for those who are not familiar with glamorous camping under the stairs nothing could be more fun than a bar restaurant built into the dunes surrounded by bushes creating a natural canopy and seats to sit on made of tree trunks. We start the course by rubbing two sticks together to create fire and when we fail we are very naughty and throw paraffin and you will see the most exciting camp fire as it blazes in all directions. Once under control we cut up our spices and for those who really want to go back to the good old days the chefs will even show you with a stone grinder how to make your own curry powder, but only if you have managed not to spend all the budget buying the fish.
First we heat up the terracotta pot with the coconut oil, and add curry leaves, red onions, garlic, chilli green and red and pandam. We then marinate the fish with curry powder, chilli and crushed pepper. As the mix of spices turn a golden brown and fill the air with the real smell of spices we toss the fish into the pot adding coconut milk and a touch of tamarind. Minutes later we have a great Southern fish dish served on a banna leaf and start to cook the other vegetable curry dishes to go with it. If you are a slow chopper you may find yourself eating the food under the stairs and not for lunch. This is no bad thing as you get a 360 degree clear view of the constellation on the dunes.