Monthly Archives: July 2013

Godamba Roti

  HP1B9216  My dad comes from a small town in Sri Lanka, between Kegalle and Avissawella. Ruwanwella it’s called and we spend a good part of our holidays there. My uncle, Tissa Mama, is a local somebody. Tissa mama is a foodie of sorts. He has a nose for finding dingy little local joints that have untold of culinary wonders. From spicy vadais, to fried chicken and egg rolls. In fact, one of the most endearing memories I have of him is him running down the stone steps of his house when he hears the music of the bakery truck (yes in Sri Lanka the bakery truck comes around of an afternoon rather than the ice cream one) sarong hitched up, wallet in hand.One of his finds was a local place that sells amazing Godamba roti, a flat crispy bread akin to the Roti Canai of Malaysia and paratha of India. When we were there last, hubby and my brother-in-law insisted on accompanying us to get this tasty treat from “town”. The shop itself was beyond dingy. The man behind the counter dingy and dirty and sporting a greasy pony tail. The one light globe was attracting flying insects of every description, but this was Sri Lanka, we were undeterred.  The pony-tailed one grabbed a ball of dough that was sitting in a vat of oil and deftly stretched it with the palm of his hand on the countertop, a fly walked across and he expertly shook is off and continued stretching until the dough was paper-thin. He then placed the now transparent dough on the hot plate and repeated the process on another ball, when it was done he lay it ontop of the first roti and flipped the whole thing over. He layered each roti, one on top of the other until he had a pile of about 10. He wrapped them all in plastic wrap then newspaper and handed them to us. It says something about how good this roti is that we didn’t give a toss about the flies, the dust or the dirt. If anything, watching the process only made my husband determined to try making the roti at home.

Now that we’re in Seattle there’s no chance of finding these goodies down the road, so we’re left to our own devices. Here’s our very liberal interpretation, they might not be as good as the ones back in Lanka but I reckon that has a lot to do with the lack of flies.



  • 3 cups of plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Enough luke warm water to make a dough
  • IL of canola or vegetable oil


You can easily do this by hand but I’m inherently lazy with things like this and use appliances. So I put the flour, oil and water into the bowl of my kitchenaid.

Remember to use the dough hook, I say this because if you use the whisk it’ll be a huge mess.

Give it a good mix on a medium speed and slowly add the water as the mixer is moving

You want to keep adding the water until the dough forms a ball and comes away from the sides of the bowl.  Turn the mixer up a little and knead for 4-5 minutes.
Form the dough into small balls and lay in a flat dish. Here’s the funky part, you have to cover the whole lot in oil. Submerged! The oil changes the texture of the dough, does something cool with the gluten and it makes it lovely and stretchy.
It’s a lot of oil yes, but I keep mine in a jar (like below) and reuse it every time I make roti.

Cover the rotis up and leave them to sit for at the very least 4 hours.

When you’re ready to cook, place a large frypan on the hob and turn it up to medium -high heat. You want these rotis cooked cookly so they maintain their chewiness.
Start with one ball of roti and using the palm of your hand start stretching it out on the counter top. You need lubrication so don’t be afraid of a little oil.

Carefully place the roti on the pan and cook until brown on one-side, then flip.
Tada, this is what they look like when they’re all cooked….just scrumptious.


Filed under Snacks and Sides, Sri Lankan Food, Vegetable Dishes

Chicken Curry

Here’s a fact; every Sri Lankan I know has a chicken curry recipe that varies slightly. There’s usually a secret ingredient, a steadfast opinion on the necessity of tomato and the right way to use curry powder. I learnt how to make curry from my mother, so this is based very much on her chicken curry.

The medley of Sri Lankan spices I use

This curry goes amazingly with bread, steamed white rice, roti and even crispy fries….trust me. Even baby Callum has had some of this with some the chilli and salt omitted of course.

The list of ingredients is daunting but in this day of globalisation most of these ingredients can be found at a local supermarket. The curry powder thing is confusing, basically a roasted curry powder is a raw curry powder that has been dry roasted in a pan until it’s dark brown in colour and smokey in flavour. Again, a good Sri Lankan grocery store will have it on hand.

Now, health conscious people will tell you that you can make chicken curry with lean, mean chicken breast. Lies…all lies….don’t listen to them. Block you ears, walk away. Chicken curry must, do you hear me? MUST be made with meat on the bone. The marrow imparts amazing flavour, the meat is sweeter and there is no greater pleasure than chewing on those bones after they’ve been soaking in curry sauce for ages.


  • 2kg Chicken cut into pieces – use a good quality, high welfare bird or legs and thighs portioned up. The meat must be on a bone and whether you leave the skin on or not is up to you.
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 3 cloves or garlic chopped
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger  peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • handful of curry leaves
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • 3-4 cardamon pods bruised
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 tsp unroasted curry powder
  • 2 tsp roasted curry powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp roasted chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Salt
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Sugar (optional)


I love making curry in cast-iron ceramic pot, it’s strangely reminiscent of the clay pots of Lanka and gives an amazing evenness of heat and flavour.
I start by frying the cinnamon stick in the ghee. Once the smell of cinnamon hits my nose I add the curry leaves, pandan leaf, ginger, garlic, onion, cloves and cardamon.

Bruising the cardamon and cloves a little in mortar and pestle
helps release the flavours a little more
I sweat all the ingredients off and wait for the onions to go lovely and soft. 
At this point I start adding the spices, I add them all at once and fry the resulting paste for about 4 minutes on medium heat until the spices really smell good. I mean, they smelt pretty ok to begin with but they should be knocking your socks off by now.
 Next the chicken goes in and you the chicken to be coated in all of the spices and lovely and sealed. Basically that raw pink meat should look nice and brown and spicy.
Next we add the tomatoes, I sometimes whizz this up with my stick blender especially if the little man is going to get into it, it’s totally not necessary but makes for a smooth sauce that he can eat easily.
One last stir to meld the chicken, the spices and the tomato and then pop on the lid.
Here’s the hard part…you must leave the curry alone. I bring the pot to the boil, bring the heat to a simmer and then cook for half an hour.
At the end of the half-hour the chicken will be cooked, the sauce will be lovely and thick and best of all your house it going to smell ah-mazing!
Take the lid off and give it a good stir before seasoning with salt to taste. I’ve put sugar on the list as an option because really it depends on your  tastte, sometimes the tomatoes can make the sauce very acidic and a little bit of sugar balances it out. Sometimes I find that the sugar is totally not necessary. Use your judgement here. Oh….and a word about patience. If you can leave this for a day in the fridge, it will taste better.


Filed under Chicken, Meat/ Fish Curries, Meat/Fish Dishes, Sri Lankan Food, Uncategorized