This is a bar food originally served in drinking clubs during the era of the British Raj, and it has found its way into the homes and hearts of Sri Lankans. As a nation, we’re also fond of devilling squid, cuttlefish, pork, potato… you name it.
400g raw prawns, shell on
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
2 tsp oil
2 tbsp tomato sauce/ketchup
1 tbsp medium soy sauce (not dark)
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp sesame oil
Wash and clean the prawns. Remove the head and most of the shell, leaving it just on the tail. Wash them again, drain and set aside.
Remove the stems from the peppers, quarter and remove the seeds. Halve each quarter and cut them into about 1cm chunks and set aside. Loosen the layers of the onion quarters and set aside.
Put the oil in a large frying pan or wok over a very high heat, and immediately add the onion. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the peppers and stir-fry for a minute.
Tip in the prawns and stir-fry for just over a minute, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir-fry for another minute.
Note When making other devilled dishes, the main ingredient will need pre-cooking with a pinch or two of salt, before adding into the peppers and onions. You can use this method with prawns, but they do not need to be cooked for long.
Extracted from Sri Lanka: The Cookbook by Prakash K Sivanathan and Niranjala M Ellawala, (Frances Lincoln, an imprint of The Quarto group, approx €24). Photograph © Kim Lightbody.