Dubbi Nandu

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as a snack

Appears in

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

By Bree Hutchins

Published 2013

  • About

Bamini made this dish as a snack while we were preparing the odiyal kool. She marinated the flesh of the dubbi nandu (balmain bugs) in a blend of spices and then fried them, finishing with a squeeze of lime juice. Once I tasted them, I knew I would be making this at home.


  • 800 g (1 lb 12 oz/about 4) green (raw) balmain or moreton bay bugs (or cooked)
  • 3 teaspoons Bamini’s roasted curry powder (or store-bought roasted curry powder)
  • teaspoons salt
  • 200 g (7 oz/about 15) small pink Asian shallots*, peeled and left whole
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 red onion*, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3-4 thin green chillies*, halved lengthways
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges


Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the balmain bugs and boil for 5 minutes, or until just cooked. Drain and rinse under cold running water or plunge into iced water to stop the cooking process. If using cooked bugs, you can skip this step.

To remove the meat, take the tail in one hand and the head in the other, and twist hard so the tail and head separate. Discard the head. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut down the edges of the underside to peel back the shell; you can then easily remove the flesh from the tail. Devein and place in a bowl, discarding the shell. Add the curry powder, salt and shallots and mix well. Extract the shallots and set them aside.

Heat the oil in a small wok or saucepan over medium heat and fry the shallots for 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Fry the marinated pieces of balmain bug for 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the fried shallots. Then fry the onion for 4 minutes, or until golden brown, and add to the other fried ingredients. Finally, fry the chillies for 2 minutes. Mix all the fried ingredients together and transfer to a serving plate. Serve warm with lime wedges.