Monthly Archives: January 2014

Cashew Nut (Cadju) Curry


Did I ever tell you guys about the great cashew caper? It was the day our cousin Ruvi and he husband Pesh were leaving Sri Lanka and after a lovely lunch we  headed to ODEL to buy some devilled cashews.  We left a sleeping baby and the husbands in the car and went inside to the “nut counter”. We picked up a huge bag of cashews, paid for the purchases and walked outside.

That night as Ruvi was packing, the cashews were nowhere to be found. We searched the car, the bags and looked in all the spots that Master C could’ve hidden them. But, to no avail.

Now, I am quite an absentminded person, I lose wallets and phones and money all the time. Nuwan is forever chasing me about the house closing cupboards and draws. Shelton mama never lets a friend leave without telling them how as a 10 year old I calmly placed 10 dollars into a bin along with a the wrapper for my pork roll. I’ve learned to deal with this by developing a great recollection. I can walk through events and instances in my mind to try and find that lost wallet or keys. Otherwise, I’d probably never leave the house.

So as night fell that day I started thinking back over our trip to ODEL and mentally following that package of cashew. I remembered it being placed in the basket. I remembered walking to the counter and I remembered paying for the purchases. I also remembered that we didn’t get the cashews back. Sure enough, we called ODEL and they were there, hanging out at the counter. Ruvi left Lanka, cashews in hand.

A Sri Lankan wedding is never complete without a cashew nut curry, so make this dish for your next set of festivities.



  • 150g cashew nuts
  • 2 tsp. curry powder split
  • 1tbsp. oil
  • 1tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. chilli powder
  • 1 piece of cinnamon
  • 1 green chilli sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 small onion chopped
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 100g of green peas


In a small pan place the cashew nuts and turmeric and curry powder with enough water to cover the nuts. Place on a medium heat and bring to the boil. Cook till the nuts are soft, I like mine to have a bit of a bite so I don’t cook mine as much as is conventional.


Drain the cashews and place the pan back on the heat. Add a splash of oil, the chilli powder, curry powder, cinnamon and sesame seeds. Fry for a few seconds until the sesame seeds are toasted.


Add the onions, garlic and chilli and fry until they are soft.


Return the cashews to the pan and add the  coconut cream.


Simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly and then add the green peas just before serving.




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Filed under Curries, Vegetable Dishes

Loku Amma’s Chilli Chicken


This recipe is a family favourite. Something my mother’s older sister (Loku Amma) makes for us whenever we visit. She’s an amazing cook just like my mum and serves this chicken with yellow rice, eggplant pickle and potato curry.

The day we cooked this we were cooking for guests. This means a thorough cleaning of the Morawakella Bungalow and unlocking the pantry cupboards to unearth the “fine china”. The set that comes out is beige with a  gold line and blue accents.  It’s as old as the hills and my Great-uncle Nanda recently told me about when he first saw the set.

Nanda Aththa, as we call him, came to Delwala (my maternal grandmother’s ancestral home) in search of a bride. He hailed from Kandy and this was a day’s journey, if not more. Having arrived in Delwala he was  served lunch as was traditional in the fine blue and beige china. He was served alcohol, slightly less traditional but he remarked that he felt entitled to it so he asked. Then he was served tea, at this point he was worried. The bride (my grandmother’s sister Susila) had not yet appeared.   I turned to Susi Aththamma, who was standing and listening, and asked her what took her so long?

She looked at me slyly over her cup of tea and smiled as she said  “I refused to come out”. When I asked why, her answer was simple. “I had some better offers at the time.”

Now the story ends happily and the two did eventually marry. Maybe she came out and found her prospects were better than expected. Whatever the case may be, these blue and beige dishes have served some important  events and bought together some important people.

This recipe, as you see it today was cooked on a wood fire stove. Don’t you find that amazing? No knob to control the heat, not exhaust, no light.



  • 2 kg of chicken (thighs and drumsticks work best I find)
  • 1 tbsp. crushed ginger
  • 1tbsp. crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • pepper
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar


  • 1 tbsp. chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp. sugar ( or to taste)
  • Oil for deep frying


1. Marinate the chicken with the first set of ingredients and leave for no more than an hour (the vinegar will start to cook otherwise)


2. Place the marinated chicken in a pot with some water . When the water comes to the boil, turn the heat down and place the lid on it, cooking until the chicken is cooked through. Drain the chicken and reserve to cooking liquid, this is what will become the sauce.


Heat the oil in a large frying pan and deep fry the chicken pieces until golden browns and crispy. Drain well on kitchen towels to absorb the excess oil.



To the reserved cooking liquid add the remaining ingredients for the sauce. Leave the sauce on medium heat until the sauce becomes thick and syrupy.      


Serve hot with lots of fluffy white rice!



Filed under Chicken, Meat/Fish Dishes

Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream

The Aussie blogger, Not Quite Nigella once commented that most people have a celebrity cook or chef who’s recipes never work for them. She remarked that Karen Martini’s recipe always flopped for her. For me, that cook was always Martha Stewart. Living in Australia I thought her recipes would be foolproof, her shows were staged in a test kitchen after all. However I experienced flop after flop. Having moved here I suspect it was the conversions I had to do, or couldn’t do as the case may be. Now that Martha and I live in the same country the results of her recipes are infinitely more promising. This is a recipe based on a recipe of hers. I use it when normal butter cream won’t do, or I’ve made creme brulee and I have lots of egg whites left over. I find this icing not too sweet but rich and delicious all the same.

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1  cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes.     



Put egg whites, sugar, and salt into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. My kitchen aid has a metal bowl so I just use that. Remember you don’t want the water touching the bottom of the bowl. Whisk the mixture for about four minutes or until warmed through.


Beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. At this point reduce the speed. 
Add butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating after each addition, the meringue will deflate slightly as butter is added. Sometimes it can look curdled, like the mixture has separated. This is normal too, just keep going.  You want a smooth glossy finish to the buttercream, so beat for about 5 minutes. 
Buttercream can be refrigerated airtight for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature, and beat before using.
Spread onto a cake or cupcakes and enjoy! 


Filed under Cake, Sweet Treats

Black Pork Curry


A black pork curry is a quintessentially Sri Lankan dish. I’ve never tasted anything quite like it anywhere else in the world. The black comes from pepper, very dark roasted curry powder and either tamarind or goraka (another similar souring agent). During our recent holiday, my cousin Ruvi commented that while spending time with her Grandmother and Great-Aunt in their home in Moratuwa they would feast on Black Pork Curry, served ever so simply with white rice and freshly grated coconut!

Since Podi Achcho, Ruvi’s great-aunt was around at the time I immediately asked her if she would show me how to make it! When I came home that afternoon from the day’s wanderings Podi Achcho and Achcho (Grandmother of the Firehouse clan) had prepared a cooking lesson of sorts just for me.


The curry itself is simple but requires slow cooking and careful attention to detail on the curry powder. I’ve made this curry before and my mistake has always been to merely “brown” the rice and spices. Silly when I think about it now, black pork requires virtually blackene d spices. Also, I was informed by Podi Achcho that there is an “order” in which the spices have to be placed in the pan. It all makes sense, different spices brown at different rates obviously.


Black Roasted Curry Powder

  • 2 tbsp. raw rice
  • 3 tbsp. coriander
  • 2 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. fennel
  • 1 tsp. cardamon pods
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • curry leaves
  • 1/2 stick of cinnamon

Pork Curry

  • 1.5 kg of pork (you need a bit of fat, I used butt and belly) chopped
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp. ginger minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 green chillis slices
  • 1sp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. tamarind paste
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar

To make the curry, place all of the curry ingredients in a heavy bottom sauce-pan with 1 cup of water and place on the heat.


When it comes to the bowl, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for an hour or until the pork is tender.


While the pork is cooking  make the curry powder. In a dry pan roast the rice until brown, when you’re satisfied with the colour add the curry leaves, pandan leaf and cinnamon.


Next add the fennel and fry for a few minutes. Next go the cloves, cardamon and coriander.


Next to last is the cumin and finally the mustard seeds. Leave the whole mix on the heat until the mustard seeds pop.


When cool to touch, place the spice mix in a grinder and grind to a fine powder.


Add 2 heaped tablespoons of the curry powder to the tender pork curry and simmer with the lid off until the liquid has all but evaporated. Add about a teaspoon on top just before serving for  a traditional presentation.



Filed under Meat/Fish Dishes, Pork