Nelum Ala (Lotus Root)


I was listening to a show on NPR here (national public radio, kinda like the ABC if you’re in Australia) where the Asian American author of novel Soy Sauce for Beginners, Kirsten Chen, bonded with the Indian American newsreader over their being tied to two different cultures. Here were two educated, well respected women who strived to not only be good and partriotic Americans but pay homage to their cultural roots too. Meghna Chakrabarti (the journalist) commented that she spoke to her mother about moving to America and the cultural challenges that it provided and her mother said “Back then, when you moved, you moved.”. Both women agreed. In the time of our parents, an international move was just that. You left without knowing whether you’d ever be back. Tickets were expensive and travel long and ardous.

Flashforward to today and the women discussed that today travel has more of a fluidity. There are options and moving back to where you’re coming from is often an option. In fact, there are probably many people moving back to China and India to work as there Chinese and Indian immigrants moving here and to Australia.

My long-winded point here is that today moving also means that you’re not leaving behind your food culture either. In the time that we’ve been in Bellevue (nearly 18months) Asian and Indian groceries have been popping up just about everywhere. There is competition and when there’s competition there’s inevitably quality. Last week I bundled up my little cherub and took him to the newest of these Indian supermarket. This one claimed to be “the biggest”

I was pleasantly surprised, there were freezers stocked with frozen exotic vegetables and I helped myself to a bag of breadfruit and lotus root. These are classic Lankan vegetables and quite rare in Lanka even, this time we only had one really good breadfruit curry.


  • 350g nelum ala (frozen lotus root)
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 small onion chopped
  • curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder (unroasted)
  • 2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. chilli powder
  • 1 tsp. fenugreek seeks
  • 1 tsp. maldive fish flakes
  • salt
  • pandan leaf
  • 1 cup coconut milk


In a medium saucepan add the lotus root, tomatoes, onions, curry leaves and spices. Cover the lotus root with water, stir in the spiced and place on a medium heat.


Cook on a simmer until the lotus root is tender, but has a slight crunch. You don’t want them disintegrating. Don’t be afraid to add more water if needed.

When the lotus root is cooked add the coconut milk  and simmer until slightly thickened.

Serve hot with rice and sprinkle of black curry powder.



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