Jaffna kool

Jaffna kool

My Feast
Chris Chen

Cool by name and spicy by flavour, this unusual dish is the pride and joy of the fishermen from Jaffna in the north-west of Sri Lanka. All of the ingredients come from the Jaffna region.



Quantity Ingredient
100g palmyra flour
1.1 litres water
1/4 cup sambar rice
1 young jackfruit, roughly chopped with 1/4 seeds reserved
2 blue swimmer crabs
10 tiger prawns, shelled and deveined
6 whiting fillets, bones removed
3 squid hoods, cleaned
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 bunch snake beans
300g clams, purged of grit and steamed opened
1/4 cup drumstick leaves

Chilli paste

Quantity Ingredient
6 dried red chillies
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Tamarind water

Quantity Ingredient
1 golf ball-sized tamarind pulp
125ml water


  1. To make the soup, place the palmyra flour and 100 ml of the water in a bowl and leave to soak for about 1 hour or until the mixture forms a paste. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. To make the chilli paste, place the dried chillies in a small bowl with enough hot water to cover and soak for 5–6 minutes. Drain, place in a blender with the lime juice, salt and pepper and blend for 30 seconds or until a paste forms. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. To make the tamarind water, combine the tamarind and water in a small bowl and mix until it forms a thick paste. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, extracting as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Set aside until ready to use.
  4. Place the remaining water, the rice and jackfruit seeds in a large saucepan over medium heat, cover and cook for 7–8 minutes or until the jackfruit seeds start to float.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the seafood. Pull off the top shell of the crabs, pull out the spongy grey gills and remove the guts. Chop the crab into quarters and slightly crack the legs. Shell the prawns and devein. Cut the fish into four to five pieces. Cut the squid into even chunks.
  6. Add the jackfruit flesh to the rice mixture, stir to combine, increase the heat and bring to the boil. Once it starts to boil, add the crab, stir to combine, cover and boil for a few minutes or until the crab starts to turn pink.
  7. Add the fish, cover and cook until the fish starts to turn white. Add the squid and prawns, stir once very gently so as not to break up the seafood, season with salt and pepper, then add the snake beans and a small amount of the chilli paste, cover and boil for 3 minutes.
  8. Remove all of the seafood from the pan and set aside in a large bowl. Add a small amount of the tamarind water to the soup and check the taste. Add more if you prefer it more sour.
  9. Add 1/4 cup of the flour paste to the soup and stir to combine. Continue to boil until the soup is thick and glossy.
  10. Return the seafood to the pan, along with the clams and drumstick leaves, stir once to combine and then check the flavour balance, adding extra tamarind water, chilli paste or salt and pepper if needed. Remove from the heat and serve.
My Sri Lanka
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