Tag Archives: vegetarian Sri Lankan

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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3 Comments

Filed under "Something" Free Cooking, Sri Lankan Food

Bandakka (Okra) Curry

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Okra is a very divisive vegetable. I feel you either love the slimy texture or you don’t. I’m a fan. Always have been. So when I saw some fresh, green okra at our local Saturday farmer’s market I grabbed a handful straight away.

It was only when I got home that I thought about Mr Firehouse. You see, he is a hater of all things slimy. So the okra sat unloved, in my fridge, for nearly a week before I decided to tackle it.

During last years trip to Sri Lanka we had stayed at a new beach side resort. One of my favourite things about Asian hotels are the buffets! Love! This one was no different. They served all kinds of impressive Western fare; cold cuts and salads in tiny shot glasses. However, my  eyes and plate never strayed far from the big traditional earthenware pots that had real, homestyle, Sri Lankan food. Breadfruit curry glistening with black curry powder, Kalu Pork curry with tender, spicy pork and the okra curry teeming with dried chillis. I served myself all of the above and was surprised to find that the okra wasn’t its usual slimy self. It tasted the same and had the soft almost gelatinous texture, but the sliminess that offends most people was strangely absent. On closer inspection and a quick chat to the chefs the secret was revealed, the okra was deep fried prior to cooking!

This is exactly what I did to tackle my stash of okra. The extra step made this dish much more Mr Firehouse friendly and I must say, I enjoyed the change too! If you’re not fussed about the okra’s slimy tendencies, just skip the deep frying part.

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Ingredients

  •  200-250 g okra (about 1/2 a pound) sliced on an angle
  • oil for deep frying
  • 1/2 red onion sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 3-4 dried red chillis
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. maldive fish flakes
  • 1/2tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. vegetable curry powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream

Preparation

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In a small frypan heat the oil for deep frying and deep fry the okra in batches until they have a little colour. Drain well

In a medium saucepan or pot place a little oil and add the onion and garlic. Fry until the onions and garlic and soft and aromatic.

To the same pot add all of the dried spices and fry for 2-3 minutes until the spices are lightly toasted.

Finally add the fried okra and mix thoroughly coating all the okra in the lovely toasted spices.

Once the okra is well coated add the coconut cream and a little water to cover the okra.

Let the curry simmer for 5 minutes until it thickens. Add salt to taste and serve warm with plenty of fluffy white rice.

2 Comments

Filed under Sri Lankan Food, Vegetarian Curries

Breadfruit Curry (Del Curry)

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In Sri Lanka there is an expression that goes something like “Ala del vela”. It literally translates to the potatoes have turned into breadfruit. It’s akin to the English; ‘it’s all gone pear shaped’.  What it refers to is that a bad, overcooked potato curry will look like the thicker, more mushy breadfruit curry.  I heard this expression an awful lot growing up, it was one of my dad’s pet phrases. Unfortunately I had no idea what it meant because growing up in Australia I never had del. Not that I remember. As you can imagine this phrase didn’t hold much meaning for me until I finally tried del, then I spent a lot of time regretting my misspent youth and all the missed opportunities to eat del!

This curry, if made with good breadfruit, and believe you me not all breadfruit is created equal, is lovely, thick and slightly ‘slimy’. It’s perfect with rice and is meaty enough to stand on it’s own, unlike the humble potato. If the breadfruit is not ripe enough the curry will not get floury, no matter how much you cook it. In Sri Lanka, this is a lost cause and the dish will often be thrown out. I leave this up to your discretion. Thankfully this has never happened to me with the processed variety.

I’ve made this with frozen breadfruit and you can follow this for fresh as well. If you’re working with the tinned variety, the quantity might be a bit smaller and you’re best off making the curry with the coconut milk and then adding the drained breadfruit to the simmering coconut broth. The tinned fruit is using partially cooked or brined so doesn’t require the softening. You can then temper, as per the recipe below.

One of my favourite ways to eat this curry is with simple store bought paratha and a “salsa” of cubed tomatoes, cucumber and red onions seasoned with a little salt and chilli


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Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 500 g frozen  (~ 1lb ) breadfruit, peeled and cut into 3cm pieces
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. maldive fish
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • curry leaves
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • For tempering
  • 3 tbsp. oil
  • 1/2 small red  onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 3-4 dried red chillis cut into pieces
  • pinch of roasted dark curry powder (for serving)

Preparation

In a medium saucepan add the breadfruit, turmeric, curry powder, maldive fish, curry leaf, pandan leaf and pepper. Cover the breadfruit with water and turn the heat on to medium.

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Cook until the breadfruit it soft and going “floury” around the edges.

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When the breadfruit reaches the floury stage add the coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes until the curry is thick.

In a small frying pan add the oil and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop add the onions and dried chilli to the pan. Cook on medium heat until the onions have just a little bit of colour.

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Add the tempered onions to the del curry and stir through. Serve with a sprinkle roasted curry powder.

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6 Comments

Filed under Sri Lankan Food, Vegetarian Curries

Pol (Coconut) Roti and Lunu Miris

POL ROTI

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Roti and luni miris, a class combination

Sri Lankan food can often be time consuming and labour intensive. It’s well worth the effort but sometimes it’s difficult to find the time on a busy weeknight. Pol Roti is an exception. Easy, quick and tasty, it’s something we often eat during the week when the need for curry hits us and rice just won’t cut it.

It took us a while to make Roti here in Seattle. Every single bag of coconut we found was “sweetened”. We finally happened upon it at the largely organic market WHOLE FOODS, and we’ve never looked back. Thank goodness, can you imagine life without pol sambol, roti or Anzac Biccies? Disaster!

Roti is delicious by itself and especially with lunu miris (recipe below). It’s also goes perfectly with our chicken curry and a generous smear of butter!

Ingredients

Serves 2-3 (Makes 8 medium sized Rotis)

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • I cup dessicated coconut
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Enough luke warm water to make a dough

Instructions

In a bowl place all the dry ingredients and the oil. Mix until the coconut is evenly distributed.
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Now slowly add enough warm water to make a dough that comes to together in a ball. I used about 1 cup.
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Here you have 2 options;
Option 1: you can flour your bench and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. You can then cut the dough using a round cutter to get uniform circles. Then repeat until all the dough is used up.
I decided to go the other way
Option 2: Divide the large ball of dough into 8 small balls. Now press the dough flat with the tips of your fingers until the roti is about 1/2 cm thick.
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Place a frying pan or crepe pan on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Place the roti on there one or two at a time. I like the roti to get some nice dark brown patches and keep turning them until I have some colour on both sides.
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Cook all the roti and serve warm with Lunu miris (quite literally onion and chilli sambol).
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Uncooked rotis freeze really well so if you have extra freeze them with greaseproof paper between the rotis and then sealed in a ziploc bag. You can then cook them straight from frozen.
LUNU MIRIS
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Ingredients
  • 1/2 a small red onion chopped
  • 3/4 tbsp. chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. maldive fish flakes
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
Preparation
In the bowl of a food processor place your onion, chilli flakes, maldive fish flakes, garlic and pepper. Now whizz it up until the onion is finely chopped and all the ingredients are well mixed. Place the contents in bowl and add the salt and lemon juice to taste. Mix and serve with your warm roti!
Note: If you don’t have a food processor use a mortar and pestle and grind the ingredients together and add the salt and lemon juice last.

8 Comments

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