Category Archives: Sri Lankan Food

Quick Lamb Biriyani

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One of the great rites of passage as a new mum is the first day you get to venture out alone without kids. My cousin’s little boy is just on 10 months and at about 6 months we decided a day out without baby was in order. The real dilemma was of course, where should we go? Shopping, pampering, movie-ing? What did we want to do now that we were somewhat out of the baby fog? When we saw tickets being advertised for the Good Food and Wine show, we knew we’d found the answer. We are both food-mad and watch the Lifestyle Food channel religiously. The prospect of seeing some of our culinary heroes in the flesh was too tempting to resist, and the call of food and wine was strong.

We planned our day around the demonstrations, keen to see Matt Moran and Gary Mehigan cooking live. We also lamented the absence of Paul West, the host of River Cottage Australia and one of our all time favourites. We didn’t have much time to dwell as we walked in and straight into a live cooking presentation by Matt. He wowed us with cheffy magic and regaled us with tales of Maggie Beer. He also cooked a slow cooked lamb shoulder and as our mouths watered, I declared that that would be the first dish I cooked in my newly purchased slow cooker.

As the day drew to a close, our hearts and bellies full and our heads a little foggy from perhaps a little too much wine tasting and stingy use of the spittoon, we walked right passed a booth with no food and a few people. My eye was drawn to a man in a blue shirt and signature beard. A double take and and a third glance to reconfirm told me I was in fact seeing Paul West. No cooking, no Digger, but the man himself. My cousin and I quickly ran into the booth, paid the exorbitant fee of two dollars (the money was going to a great cause) in order to secure a selfie with the man himself. Day, week, month made!

I did in fact return home and put my Matt Moran inspired lamb cooking tips to use and turn the poor lamb shoulder, long relegated to the freezer, into a melt in your mouth thing of beauty. But, being as we are only a family of four, a two kilogram piece of lamb generates plenty leftovers. In the spirit of Save with Jamie I always portion the leftover meet and freezer. Roast pork often gets turned in protein for noodle salads and chicken will adorn fried rice. Lamb though, gets the biriyani treatment. This has become a family favourite, something loved by adults and kids alike.

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Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp. ghee
  • 1 brown onion finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp. coriander finely chopped
  • 2 cardamom pods crushed
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 2 green chillies sliced
  • 1 roma tomato chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 -2 cups shredded pre-cooked lamb (leg or shoulder works well) *
  • 2 cups rice, cooked.
  • 1 cup frozen peas/blanched green beans
  • Fresh coriander to garnish

Preparation

  1. In a large wok or frying pan add the ghee, ginger garlic paste, onions, cloves and cardamom. Fly until the onions are picking up some colour and the ghee is well perfumed.
  2. Add the green chillies, tomato, coriander and garam masala. Cook for a couple of minutes until the spices and onions are well combined and starting to soften.
  3. Add the cooked lamb and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the cooked rice and stir thought until everything is well distributed.
  5. Add the peas and cover for a few minutes until they are cooked through.hp1b0880

* check out this recipe for a great slow roasted lamb, though I roast mine closer to 2-2.5 hours, or until fall-apart tender. https://www.donnahay.com.au/recipes/dinner/slow-roasted-dukkah-lamb-shoulder

 

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Filed under Lamb, Meat/Fish Dishes, Rice Dishes, Sri Lankan Food, Uncategorized

Black Pork Belly

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I got the idea for this recipe while still in the states.I was perusing my favourite blogs, and Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella, posted a review for a new restaurant in Sydney that was serving Sri Lankan food. One of the dishes she tried while she was at the restaurant was a Black Pork Belly Curry. As soon as I read that phrase, I immediately concluded it was the best idea ever! In fact I told anyone that would listen what an amazing idea it was. Naturally, their response was, “why don’t you make it?”. So I did.Many many times. This is about the 10th iteration of this recipe, and Mr Firehouse, who has tried every last one, is confident this is the best.

I won’t lie, this recipe is a labour of love.  It is time consuming and requires a horde of ingredients. But the results are more than worth it. It will also be the crowning glory on your table, if you invest time in this dish, you really don’t need much more. A salad, maybe a creamy dhal or potato, some steamed white rice and you will wow your guests. Trust me!

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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 belly with skin and rind on (whole)
  • 2 tbsp. onion flakes or 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp. ginger minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 green chillis sliced
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp. tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp. ground cashew nut *
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • olive oil and sea salt for crispy skin
  • Oil for deep frying

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Preheat you oven to 160C. Place all the ingredients for the curry portion, except for the pork in an oven proof sauce with a lid. Add 2 cups of water and stir until all the ingredients are well mixed. .Next add the pork belly, put the lid on and place in the oven for 2.5 hours.

In the mean time, prepare you 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.

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

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

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

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When the pork is done, remove the pot from the oven. Fish out the pork and place over some paper towel to dry. If I have the time, I’ll place it in the fridge over night to further dry out.

Decant the curry sauce into a jug and place in the fridge. Once the sauce has cooled, the fat will have solidified at the top, remove this and replace the cooled sauce back in the saucepan.

Place over a medium heat before adding 2 tbsp. of the black curry powder and 2 tablespoons of ground cashew nuts *.  Simmer for 5 minutes before adding the sugar and testing for seasoning.

Cut the dried pork belly into 2 cm, 1inch cubes. Deep fry over a medium heat until golden,crispy and browned. Because of the fat and water content, the pork will splatter. I use a deep fryer with a  lid to prevent splattering, if not, make sure you have a splatter cover for your pan. Drain well over paper towels.

When ready to serve, combine the pork and curry sauce and serve immediately.

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  • I’ve used cashew nut butter or almond butter or even macadamia butter in place of the ground nuts.

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Filed under "Something" Free Cooking, Meat/ Fish Curries, Meat/Fish Dishes, Pork, Sri Lankan Food, Uncategorized

Pumpkin Curry with Coconut Milk

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As you probably already know, I’m a big lover of pumpkin. Especially pumpkin soup. It’s warming, sweet, creamy and comforting. However, when I have made it for Sri Lankan relatives, especially male ones, they don’t seem to get it. I suspect this curry has a lot to do with it. Pumpkin, cooked Sri Lankan style, is heady with spices and fragrant to the max. It’s the same type of warm, comforting and creamy without the sweetness of roasted butternut. This dish is decidedly savoury, while I think pumpkin soup, especially the kind made with butternut can be a bit of a fence sitter.  I for one will always be pumpkin fan, in whatever style you serve it to me!

By the by this dish also has the added bonus of being vegan.

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Ingredients

  • 1 small red onion finely chopped
  • 2 green chillis sliced
  • 1 handful of curry leaves
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 stick of cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 kg kent or jap pumkin cut into large, even chunks
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk powder
  • 2 tsp, dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. toasted coconut to garnish *

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Preparation

In a shallow dish or wok fry the onion,garlic, curry leaves, cinnamon, pandan, cloves, cardomom, and green chilli with the oil. Fry over a low heat until the onion is soft and the spices are fragrant.

Add the turmeric and fry for a 1-2 minutes until it’s well incorporated and slightly toasted.

Add the chopped pumpkin and cover with enough water to submerge the pumpkin. Cook over a medium heat until the pumpkin is just soft.

Add a little water to the coconut milk powder and make a paste. Add the dijon mustard and stir well before adding to the pumpkin curry. Bring the whole mix to a gentle simmer and add salt to taste. Take off the heat and add the toasted coconut just before serving.

* to toast the coconut, add 2 tablespoons of shredded coconut to a dry pan. Cook over a gentle heat, stirring constantly until the coconut has changed is colour and is brown and fragrant.

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

Carrot Leaf Sambol

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Sri Lankans don’t really do salad, not in the traditional Western sense anyway. A green leaf sambol or mallung is about as close as we get. Mind you, it’s a pretty good substitute. Seasoned with chilli, and lime juice and mixed with crunchy fresh coconut it’s both tasty and nourishing in the truest sense.

These days, carrots, especially the heirloom varieties come  with their tops still attached. I’ve always chopped the tops off and saved them to add a fresh kick to a rice and curry meal. The carrot leaf has a lovely fresh, slightly peppery flavour that is both delicious and interesting.

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Carrot Leaf Sambol

  • 1 bunch of carrot leaf (the green tops of the carrot, cut off)
  • ½ cup of shredded fresh coconut or rehydrated dessicated coconut
  • ½ small red onion chopped
  • ½ a medium tomato deseeded and chopped
  • 1 green chilli sliced (optional)
  • 1 tsp. maldive fish flakes
  • ½ lime
  • salt and pepper to task

Preparation

Finely chop the carrot leaves and add to the coconut, onion, chilli, tomato and maldive fish.

Mix well, ensuring all ingredients are well distributed.

Just  before serving add lime, salt and pepper to taste.

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

Kokis

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It’s coming up to Sri Lankan New Year and Mr C’s day care is holding a celebration. There are a few Sri Lankan kids and a Sri Lankan teacher so it’s a big deal this year. They’re making coconut rice onsite and dressing up in traditional garb.I was wracking my brain trying to think of an easy, uniquely traditional treat to make his friends….and then it came to me…kokis of course. Not only is it not too arduous to make, I thought there was a good chance that even the picky toddlers might enjoy them. It’s also gluten free, nut free and hopefully child-friendly.

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Kokis is a traditional Sri Lankan snack, often served at Sri Lankan New Year. A crispy, cookie-like treat, made of coconut milk and rice flour and deep-fried till crispy. Of the many Sri Lankan treats that grace the New Year table, this is by far one of the easiest. It does require a kokis mould, made of metal, and attached to a long handle, which may be a deterrent. But, they are available in Sri Lankan spice stores in many places outside of Sri Lanka. If not, ask your kindly relatives in Sri Lanka to send you one, the next time the ask “what can we send?” .

A new mould will take a little “breaking in” and you may find the batter will stick to the mould for a little while. Keep at it, it ill eventually come good.

When Ammi made kokis, she always turned the last bit of batter into “chilli” kokis by adding chilli powder. Much as she’d done for her dad growing up. Chilli kokis go especially well with a nice cool beer or ‘lion lager’.  See below for my take on “chilli kokis”.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup of rice flour
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 egg
  • salt

For Chilli Kokis

  • I cup of kokis mixture
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Preparation

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In a bowl add salt to the flour and mix well.  Then add the egg and coconut milk into the flour and whisk until no lumps remain. The consistency should be similar to a thin pancake batter. Cover the bowl and keep it aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. When the oil is hot place the Kokis mould in the oil for about a minute.

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Carefully dip the mould in the batter, making sure that the mould is well covered on all sides, but not the top.

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Place the now batter covered mould in the hot oil and hold in place for about 30 seconds. At this point, slip the kokis out of the mould, shaking slightly if needed, to loosen. Use a cocktail stick or skewer to prise the kokis away if it needs extra help. Fry until the kokis is golden and evenly coloured.

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Pull out of the oil and drain well  before serving. Will keep in an air tight container for a few days.

I love to serve mine dusted with a generous sprinkling of icing sugar. It goes perfectly with a cup of tea.

Chilli Kokis

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To make the chilli kokis mix the batter with all the spices and half the cayenne. Make as above and sprinkle with the remaining cayenne before serving.

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Filed under "Something" Free Cooking, Short-Eats, Snacks and Sides, Sri Lankan Food, Uncategorized

Sri Lankan New Year

April 14 will mark Sri Lankan New Year this year. Sri Lankan New Year is an important time for all Sri Lankans. Full of rituals, and the signalling of a new beginning for all involved.

There are the rituals of cleaning the house and lighting the oil lamp adorned with a proud rooster. Traditionally the hearth stove would have been cleaned and only lit at an auspicious time to make Kiribath or milk rice. Traditional gifts of new clothes and given and received and visiting family begins in earnest. Villages have carnivals with traditional games and competitions and including a beauty pageant to select the most beautiful girl in the village.

In Australia we have tried to replicate this in our own way. There are smaller oil lamps, gas stoves scrubbed to shiny perfection and phone calls in lieu of visits. There are carnivals at Sunday schools with races and challenges and children are compelled to eat donuts hanging from strings as fast as they are able. Sweet meats and treats are often store bought and celebrations postponed to weekends when people are more available.

This year I’m collating some of my recipes that can fill your Avurudu table. Some are easy, other’s complex and time consuming me. My challenge is this, make one. Just one and let me know how it turns out.

Marshmallows

Easy vanilla marshmallows that can be made in advance. You’ll never be satisfied with store-bought again.

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Butter Cake

Sri Lanka’s favourite cake.

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Unduwel

Crispy, deep friend “swirls” of urid dal batter dipped in hot palm treacle.

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Milk Toffee

Sweet and slightly chewy condensed milk toffee

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Sri Lankan Pancakes

Uniquely Sri Lankan crepes filled with spiced, sweet, caramelised coconut.

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Subha Aluth Avurudak Vewa! 

 

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Filed under Short-Eats, Sri Lankan Food, Sri Lankan Sweets, Sweet Treats, Uncategorized

Green Mallum

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Mallum is Sri Lanka’s answer to a salad. A bevy of greens wilted, spiced and combined with shredded coconut amongst other wonderful spices. It’s often served as a condiment, an addendum to a meal. Something to add flavour, colour and vivid green health.

It’s a healthy alternative to lettuce and greens doused in dressing and I know for me it helps balance the colours in a meal. I struggle to eat without some green on my plate,

When I made this, I used silver beet and some outer leaves of cabbage from my parent’s garden. Green spinach, kale, collard greens are all easily used.

The trick to this is to slice the greens as finely as possible. It’s a skill I lack so, like me, do the best you can.

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Ingredients

  • 200g greens, washed and dried (5-6 leaves)
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. maldive fish
  • 2 dried chillies finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • salt to taste

Preparation

Finely slice the greens. I find rolling them tightly into a cigar shape and using a sharp knife is the easiest way to get a fine slice.

In a small frypan add the oil. When hot, add the curry leaves, mustard seeds and onion. Fry until the onion is soft.

Add the chopped greens and cook until just wilted. Now add the coconut, mustard seeds, turmeric and salt, Mix well until just warmed through.

Serve warm with fluffy white rice.

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Filed under Snacks and Sides, Uncategorized, Vegetable Dishes, Vegetarian Curries

Egg and Bacon Pastries

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You know the family recipes that you’ve been making for years but can’t really trace? This is one of those. Something my mothers has made for as long as I can remember, something I make all the time and something whose roots cannot be traced to anything except great foodie memories.

This is a recipe that often comes out on holiday road trips. Something my mother would bake of a morning before setting off, pack into tupperware to be enjoyed at a service station between home and 1000km away.

It doesn’t need sauce, can be eaten without such refineries as plates and cutlery and it’s simply a matter of dusting off the crumbs before jumping back into the car.

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Ingredients

  • 4-5 rashers of bacon (you’ll need about 24 pieces of bacon all up)
  • 4 eggs medium boiled
  • 3 sheets of puff pastry
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 1 egg to brush on top

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 220C/400F. Line a baking tray with paper
  2. Cut the bacon into 5 cm strips and set aside.
  3. Cut the egg into halves and then divide each half into 3. Doesn’t matter if the eggs break apart, just put them back together when assembling.
  4. Cut the pastry sheets in half and then each half into 4 so you have 8 rectangles.
  5. Grab a piece of pastry and place a strip of bacon in the middle and place a section of egg and a sprinkle of onion on top.

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  1. Brush egg along one edge and roll the pastry up to enclose.
  2. Brush top with eggs, cut a few slits for steam to escape.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and delicious.

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Filed under Short-Eats, Snacks and Sides, Sri Lankan Food

Chorizo Sausage Rolls

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I’ve recently made a new friend who lives in the same “neighbourhood community” that we’re in now. Her daughter and Mister C are at the same daycare and have become fast friends. We met before we had officially moved, before our new addition joined us and before the real madness of life set in.  In fact, she was one of the people I texted when I headed off to the hospital to have little Miss M as we’d planned to catch up on the day itself. She kindly offered to let me call her up and scream in her ear if I needed.

When she finally did manage to visit us she bought a gift that signalled kinship, a set of “Jamie Oliver spice bottles”. When Mr Firehouse saw it, his first question was “how did she know?”. If you know me, or if you’ve read this blog for a while you would know that Jamie and I go way back. He’s not just one of my cooking heroes, his merchandise is everywhere in my house. There’s an entire shelf on my cookbook shelf (yes, I have an entire book shelf just for cookbooks) dedicated to just his books. Then she told me a story that solidified our friendship further, apparently she adored Jamie too, ever since her mother had taken her to MEET HIM! How could I not be friends with someone who had met Jamie?

As with many of my friends, we talk often of food and food related things. The subject of chorizo came up recently and she talked of her chorizo fried rice and I spoke of the recipe below. Something that I’ve made ever since I discovered unsmoked sausages at our local butcher when we lived in the Inner-West. I’ve recently re-discovered it at our new local, a butchery that is apparently famous for it’s sausages.

I’ve made these with chorizo but you really can make these with whatever your favourite sausage may be; Italian, lamb, chicken….go nuts people.

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Ingredients

  • 500g unsmoked chorizo sausage
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry thawed
  • sesame seeds to sprinkle
  • I egg lightly beaten

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 220C/400F. Line a baking tray with paper
  2. Take the skin off the sausage so you are just left with the meat. I find it easier to mash it a bit at this point so you can divide and portion easily.
  3. Cut the pastry sheets in half.
  4. Divide the sausage filling into 4 portions.
  5. Place eat portion on one long-side of each pastry sheet and form into a sausage shape. Brush the long side with a little egg and roll up to enclose.
  6. Cut each roll into about 4 and place on the baking trays. Seam side down.
  7. Brush top with eggs, cut a few slits for steam to escape and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and delicious.

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Filed under Beef, Meat/Fish Dishes, Pork, Short-Eats

Gotu Kola Kenda

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It’s good to be back guys. Thanks for your patience. The last few months have seen us move from Seattle to Sydney, buy a house, unpack a 20ft container and welcome a new member to our family. Life is still hectic but the cooking must go on.

I’ve decided to make a recipe my mother has been making for years. Its a real comfort dish for me, something that’s so packed with goodness that I always feel great when I’ve had this for breakfast.

Kenda is somewhere between the ubiquitous Asian congee and a green smoothie. Packed with rice  and simple flavourings, it gets it green colour from the kola, which is Sinhalese for leaves. In Sri Lanka, it’s a real forager’s dish, made with whatever herbs and leaves can be gathered.

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Gotu Kola(centella asiatica) is a herb commonly found in Sri Lanka. It grows wild in many places and we use it in kenda, salads and deep fried till crisp in condiments.  It has many medicinal properties, often used in Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese herbal medicine alike. I’ve often heard it referred to as ‘arthritis herb’, which makes sense as it is known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties.

In the US, I came across gotu kola in the most unexpected place. I was walking with Mr Firehouse and Mister C through the university district farmer’s markets in Seattle and passed a tea stall. I never pass a tea stall without stopping,  I love tea! As I was perusing the teas I came across one that had gotu kola in it. I was excited! Gotu kola in Seattle? Could this be the start of fresh mallums and kenda on Saturday mornings? Sadly no. When I asked the proprietor she informed me that gotu kola is grown in Oregon, which is where she had sourced it. Alas, I never saw it in Seattle but there’s proof it is in the states. Jess from 13spices also did a post on her blog about gotu kola which she found in DC. In Australia it’s often seen in Sri Lankan spice markets or better yet in an Aunty of Uncle’s garden. In fact that’s where I source all of mine.

I’ve had a few requests for this recipe, so I hope you all enjoy it!

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Ingredients

  • 3-4 cups gotu kola, leaves only picked
  • 1/2 cup of rice ( I used a combination of red and white) rinsed
  • 3 cloves of garlic sliced
  • 1 tbsp. pepper corns
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • palm sugar to serve

Method

In a medium saucepan add the rice, garlic and peppercorns and 2 cups of water. Pop the lid on and cook until the rice is cooked, but not too soft, we’re going for al dente.

Meanwhile, blend the gotu kola with just enough water to make a lovely green puree. I ended up with just under a litre of liquid.

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Pass the gotu kola puree through a sieve into the cooked rice and spices and mix.

Add the coconut milk and season to taste. When the mixture is warmed through, take off the heat and serve hot with plenty of palm sugar or jaggery.

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Filed under "Something" Free Cooking, Sri Lankan Food