At home I have therapy, its called making dinner and I do every night, no matter how tired. I cook for myself, I cook for whoever I live with, I bake for work, I would put a mattress in the kitchen, marry my oven and have an affair with the fridge. I’m committed.
One of the biggest struggles of being on the road for me is not getting the downtime to cook for friends and even for myself, so many meals are convenient and not all that healthy, yes it would seem I am one of those annoying people who could really murder a salad!!
Living on a budget often means that street food is my best friend come any given meal time and that also means a lot of fried food, it’s a carb lovers heaven, while it is (mostly) really yum, I don’t find you get the authentic ‘this is what we cook for our family’ feel, from a lot of it. But it is the cheapest way to eat and try some local ‘fast-food’, the satisfaction and convenience keeps me well away from those western restaurants and prices… most of the time!
Getting ill in Nepal robbed me of my chance to attend the Momo cooking class I had planned, while simultaneously handing me yet another reason to return, and India, well I’ll get to that later. Sri Lanka however provided me the perfect opportunity to get hands on in the kitchen.
Sri Lankan food itself is a strange one, in many ways it mirrors Indian spices with a slightly fresher twist, more emphasis on ginger and garlic and less on the creamy bases found in Indian cooking. Still Cumin and Coriander are staples in the kitchen and the asian rice trend continues… but we expected nothing less right?
Lanka, a local Ella born Sri Lankan became my saviour by teaching my some absolutely yum local curries and side dishes.
The big Hit:
I’m now equipped with some pretty unique new dishes. The family is so lovely. They had puppies (relevant no, insanely cute YES!) It’s over fire stoves which takes away the sterility of cooking and made the experience feel authentic. Class size was small, we were only 5 people.
The little Miss:
I wish I’d been actually allowed to cook more, I felt more of an observer, furiously scribbling down recipes and rarely getting hands on with the cooking utensils.
In light of my new found knowledge I thought I’d help bring a little bit of Sri Lanka to your table with my favourite new recipes.
(Please note: You can leave out the Pandan leaves if you can’t find them, they’re generally just another type of curry leaf.
Curry Powder refers to premixed spices consisting of 500g Cumin, 500g Sweet Cumin and 1kg Coriander Powder. If you don’t want this quantity sitting around use 1/2 tablespoon of cumin and sweet cumin and full tablespoon for coriander powder)
The main: Moju (AUbergine curry)
1kg Aubergine (Eggplant)
2 red onion – diced
1 2” cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
4 whole green chillis (non-spicy)
3 curry branch
1 Pandan leaf
3 tablespoon coconut vinegar
Juice of 1/2 orange
4 tablespoons of sugar
1 diced tomato
(In this recipe you can substitute the sugar for dates or pineapple, my favourite is Pineapple and I generally add to taste, start with 4 rings and work up if you’re not sure)
- Firstly cut all the aubergine into small strips and fry in preheated coconut oil, this can be frying as you cut the other veggies. Remember to keep it on a medium heat, too high and the aubergine will burn and go too crispy, we want it golden brown. When cooked drain off excess fat and season with salt.
- Add the base ingredients together in a pan and fry in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil until the red onion is almost cooked through. (Add pineapple now if you’re using)
- Add the finishing ingredients now along with the pre-fried Aubergine and cook for a further 2minutes
Bean curry (side dish)
500g Runner beans
3 large garlic cloves
1 tomato roughly chopped
1 diced red onion
1 pandan leaf
1 branch curry leaves
1 level teaspoon each of – Turmeric – Salt – Chilli – Curry powder
- Preheat 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
- Add all ingredients together in a pan, cook covered, on a medium heat for 15minutes, stir occasionally
- Serve (yup it’s that easy)
Devilled Potatoes (some like it hot)
500g Potatoes cubed
5 sliced large garlic cloves
2 small red onions (sliced)
2 green chilli (halved) – take out seeds to reduce the heat of the dish
2 teaspoon chilli flakes (or to taste)
1 2” cinnamon stick
1 Pandan leaf
3 tablespoon tomato sauce
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
- Heat pot of water and boil potatoes till soft
- Pre-heat 3tblspoon Coconut Oil
- Fry base ingredient, not including the curry and pandan leaf, for 2-3 minutes.
- Add curry and pandan leaf and fry for further 2 minutes
- To finish add tomato ketchup and black pepper
2 peeled cucumber (can be unpeeled)
1 red onion (thinly diced)
1 tomato (chopped)
Salt (to taste)
50g Grated coconut
- Cut up all ingredients and stir in a bowl
- Dress with Lime
250g Grated coconut
1/4 teaspoon Chilli flakes
1/2 Onion – thinly diced
1/2 Tomato – finely chopped
Lemon/lime (to taste)
- Chop, mix and enjoy sprinkled on dishes, as a side or mixed in with the rice
Such simple dishes but such good taste! This is best served with rice and poppadoms, a lot of friends and some nice cold beer!