Monthly Archives: December 2014

Mango Pudding



For me, mango pudding is the highlight of Yum Cha (or dim sum as the American’s call it). Regardless of how many dumplings I’ve managed to cram into my tummy, I will NEVER forgo the mango pudding. When I was pregnant and craving the comforts of home in Seattle, Nuwan took me to Seattle’s international district to track down some mango pudding and yum cha.

The restaurant we chose had a loong line outside, and nowhere to sit as we waited in the rain, not even for a heavily pregnant woman. As we waited I stared at the roof, covered in plastic pot plants, which were covered in turn by dust, lots of dust. Perhaps the alarm bells should have started ringing then. Alas, few things trump the need for food when one is pregnant. So, we waited. As we walked to our table, things started looking up. I spied many of my favourite yum cha dishes on the tables of other patrons. Staring at the other people’s food is a terrible but very informative habit of mine.


As we were seated and we got out obligatory tea, Mr Firehouse and I waited for the trolleys. We waited as waitresses walked past, as those around us ate their plates of steamed dumplings. We waited for a whole five minutes, which is at least a half hour when you’re pregnant and hungry. Finally we stopped a waitress and asked he where the food was.

“No trolleys.” she said, in basic English. We must have looked puzzled, so she pointed at the entrance to the room we were in. We had walked in up 3 stairs, no trolleys were coming up the stairs. As we watched the entrance, we also saw that the waiters were moving back and forth with trays of food.

‘ What do you want?” she asked, and so it was that our first Yum Cha experience in the US was sadly without trolleys. Somehow, I felt cheated. Like the experience was incomplete. Thankfully there was mango pudding. But it came out with a cherry on top and no evaporated milk. Really, why bother?

I’ve had some amazing mango puddings in my time, and some or ordinary. The one at Sydney’s Spice Temple, with the condensed milk chantilly still ranks among the best. I’ve been trying to replicate it at home for years and finally feel like I’ve got it! Better yet, it’s super easy and really quick to do. I used frozen mango to do this, which means this is a dessert you can enjoy all year round.



  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 500g frozen mango chunks
  • 2.5tsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • evaporated milk to serve


Arrange 8 ramekins or moulds on a tray. Reserve a handful of the frozen mango.

Place the frozen mango into a food processor along with the 1 cup of water, lime juice and salt. Blend until no chunks remain.

Take the remaining water and sugar and heat gently in a pan until the sugar is dissolved. Gently sprinkle over the gelatin and mix briskly until the gelatin is dissolved.. Leave this mixture too cool slightly.

In a large bowl mix together the mango puree, the cream, and the sugar/gelatin mix.

Ladle the mixture into ramekins and sprinkle some of the reserved frozen mango on top.

Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours. Serve with the optional evaporated milk.





Filed under Uncategorized

Watakolu (Ridged Gourd) and Potato Curry



During high school I took home economics (culinary arts) like most students. During our year seven classes, the teacher would parade a rare and unusual spice and ask us to name it, dangling the grand prize of a merit award in our face. I’ll be the first to admit I was a total goody-two-shoes, desperate to please any teacher. Often times I would know the name of the spice in my native Sinhalese but not in English. I would then go home, ask my dad for the English name and come back to school and wow the teachers with my knowledge of fenugreek, cumin and nutmeg.

I still have that problem nowadays. I picked up this particular vegetable at our local Asian grocer. While I knew it was called wattakolu in Sinhalese, the English name was elusive. It took a good fifteen minutes of internet searching to discover that the name I was searching for was ridged gourd. I did give my fourteen year old self a high five at that point.

This is a really comforting dish. Creamy, mild and filling with the addition of potatoes. Pair it with a spicy meat curry, this curry will cool the big punch of meaty flavour.



  •  1 ridged gourd
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. raw curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. maldive fish
  • 2-3 green chillis sliced
  • 1/2 an onion sliced
  • 1/2 a tomato chopped
  • curry leaves
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup coconut milk


Prepare the gourd by peeling the ridges till they are the flush with the skin. This will leave some of the skin on.


Slice the gourd in half and slice into 1.5cm slices at an angle (I don’t know why but this is what my mum does, so I encourage you to follow suit). Add the gourd to a medium sized saucepan, and add the peeled and chopped potatoes to the pan. Now add all the spices and chopped onions and tomatoes. Add enough water to cover the contents and place on a medium heat.


When the potatoes are just cooked through, add the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes before taking off the heat. Taste for seasoning and enjoy.


Serve with warm, steamed rice.



Filed under Curries, Sri Lankan Food, Uncategorized, Vegetable Dishes, Vegetarian Curries