Lump Rice

Lump Rice

From 1640 until 1796, Sri Lanka was under Dutch rule. The Dutch Burghers (an ethnic group of mixed Dutch, Portuguese Burghers and Sri Lankan descent) came up with this delicacy known as lamprais (or lump rice). The dish consists of two special curries (three meat curry and ash plantain and aubergine), sambal belacan, tuna balls, deep fried egg and rice – wrapped up in a banana leaf. Whenever I go to Sri Lanka I always remember to taste this!

I made this recently for my loving friends who live in London. It came out nicely, full of many flavours that they had not tasted before. I got lots of good comments, so I thought I would share it with you here.

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INGREDIENTS 

500g suduru samba rice (in Europe you can use Ponni boiled rice, easily available in Asian shops)

6 cups boiling water

50g ghee or butter

2 chicken stock cubes

Spice bundle (2 tbs whole cardamom, cloves, black pepper, star anise and 2 bay leaves wrapped in muslin)

1 cinnamon stick

2 dried limes

2 onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tbs ginger root, chopped

2 lemon grass, chopped

1 piece rampa (pandan leaf)

Pinch of saffron

Banana leaves (for the parcel) (available from Asian groceries)

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METHOD 

Heat the ghee or butter in a pan, add the garlic, ginger and onion and cook 4-5 minutes until the fragrance comes out. Then add the rice and mix well. Add the water, stock cubes, spice bunch and saffron. Cover and simmer until the rice is cooked. When cooked, remove the spice bundle.

Shrimp Sambal Belacan

INGREDIENTS 

3 tbs crushed chilli

100g dried skinless shrimps (roasted)

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 tbs ginger root, roughly chopped

1 tbs olive oil

2 tbs lime juice

1 tsp sugar

Salt to taste

Deep-fried Boiled Eggs

Boil eggs for 8 minutes, remove the shells and deep fry in vegetable oil until golden brown.

METHOD 

Heat the oil in a pan, put all the ingredients in together and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let it cool down. Pound together, and add sugar, lime and salt. Check the seasoning and keep on one side.

 

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Assembly

To assemble the rice parcels, soften the banana leaves over a flame. Arrange two leaves one across the other in a shallow bowl and put three serving spoons of steamed rice in the centre. Arrange some of the three meat curry, deep-fried boiled egg, shrimp belacan and two tuna balls around the rice (see picture at the top of this post). Fold the banana leaves over the filling to enclose then secure with toothpicks. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling. When you are ready to serve, heat the oven to 170*. Place the parcels on a baking tray, making sure the opening is at the top. Bake for 12 minutes until the banana leaves start to turn brown. Remove from the oven, place a parcel on a plate and let your guests open them at the table – savouring the delicious aromas!


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Three Meat Curry

Three Meat Curry 

Three meat curry is one the main ingredients for lump rice (recipe to follow). However, it is delicious with string hoppers, rice or bread.

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INGREDIENTS

250g skinless chicken, diced

250g lamb or mutton, diced

250g pork, diced

1 tsp allspice

1 tbs roasted curry powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbs crushed chilli

1 tbs crushed black pepper

1 tbs tamarind paste

2 cups hot water

1 tbs coconut vinegar

1 tbs vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

2 green chillies, sliced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tbs ginger root, chopped

2 sprigs curry leaves

1 piece of lemon grass, crushed

1 cinnamon stick

Salt to taste

METHOD 

Marinade the meat in a bowl with the spices, tamarind, vinegar and salt. Set a side for a half and hour. Heat the oil in a pan, add the garlic, ginger, onion, lemon grass, cinnamon, curry leaves and green chillies. Mix well and cook until the onions are golden brown. Next add the meat mixture, combine everything together and add the hot water. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes on a slow flame, stirring constantly until the gravy becomes thick and the meat has absorbed the flavours. Check the seasoning. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon grass before serving.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Mackerel with Breadcrumbs

Mackerel with Breadcrumbs

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In Sri Lanka small fresh mackerel are available throughout the year. Quite a popular way of cooking them is either deep fried as finger food, or cooked as a dry fish curry. In Europe, tinned mackerel seems to be more popular than fresh, probably because of the bones. In my recipe, I remove the middle bone and butterfly the mackerel out, making it easier to cook and more enjoyable to eat. Rather than deep fry, I bake mine in the oven. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS 

350g small fresh mackerel (gutted, cleaned and the bone removed)

3 tbs lime juice

3 tbs olive oil

1 egg (beaten)

1 tbs crushed black pepper

3 slices brown bread

3 garlic cloves

Salt

For the Dip

1/2 white onion (finely chopped)

2 tbs dill or chives

2 tbs lime juice

1 tbs olive oil

1/4 cup coconut milk

1 tsp mustard paste

1 tsp plain flour

1/2 tsp crushed dry chilli

1 egg (beaten)

Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion before adding the chilli. Add the flour and mix together, then add the milk. Remove from the heat and make sure there are no lumps. Next, add the rest of the ingredients and season.

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METHOD 

Heat the oven to 180*. In a small bowl mix the lime juice, pepper and salt then marinade the fish and keep it on one side. Roughly pulse the bread and garlic in a food processor. Dip the mackerel in the beaten egg mixture and coat with the breadcrumbs. Arrange the fillets on an oven tray, sprinkle the leftover bread crumbs and olive oil and bake for about 15 -20 minutes. Serve hot with the dip.

 


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Seafood and Vegetable Rice

For special occasions my Mum used to make different flavoured rice dishes for the family. I thought I would share some of them with you. This is one of my popular dinner party dishes – my Mum only ever used fresh ingredients, so I haven’t used any frozen ingredients or artificial flavours or colours.

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INGREDIENTS 

500g Basmati rise (washed twice and soaked in a cold water for about 15 minutes)

Pinch of saffron stems

50g pine nuts (roasted in a pan until golden)

100g carrots (peeled and cut into matchsticks)

100 white cabbage (washed and shredded)

5 tbs chopped parsley

1 tbs chopped garlic

1 large red onion (chopped)

150g fresh prawns (shelled, cleaned and roughly chopped)

200g fresh boneless and skinless cod (diced)

3 tbs vegetable oil

1 lemon

Salt and pepper

METHOD

Mix the seafood with the juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper and keep on one side. Put the rice into the pan with water (follow the instructions on your particular brand of rice), a pinch of salt and half a lemon. When the water comes to a boil, lower the flame, add the saffron then cover and simmer until the rice is cooked and fluffy (adding more hot water if required). Remove from the heat, take out the lemon and squeeze the juice into the rice. Gently stir with a folk or the handle of a wooden spoon.

Heat a pan with a little oil, then add carrot and cook for a few seconds before adding to the rice mixture. Do the same with the cabbage. In the same pan add the remaining oil, sauté the garlic and onion then add the seafood mixture. When the prawns become light orange, remove from the heat and add into the rice mixture. Sprinkle the pine and parsley over the rice and stir gently to mix. Finally, check the seasoning. Serve nice and hot.

 


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Devilled Potato with Cashew (Kaju Ala Baduma)

Devilled Potato with Cashew (Kaju Ala Baduma)

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In Sri Lanka we have quite a few varieties of potatoes, and we use them in many different ways. My Mum used to cook this popular dish with potato deep fried in coconut oil. My own recipe uses a lot less oil but tastes exactly the same.

INGREDIENTS

500g potato (peeled and diced)
250g onion (sliced)
100g cashew nuts (roasted in the oven until golden brown)
Handful of curry leaves
4tbs olive oil
2 tbs lemon or lime juice
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbs crushed red chilli
1 cinnamon stick
Salt

METHOD

Heat the oven to 180*. Arrange the potatoes on a baking tray and sprinkle with some oil, salt and turmeric powder. Bake for about 25 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the rest of the oil in a pan and add onion, cinnamon and curry leaves. When the onions are soft and caramelised, add the chilli and cashew nuts and mix well together. Add the potatoes and mix well together. Finally, add the lemon or lime juice and check the seasoning. Serve with rice, bread or my String Hopper Biryani or Vegetable Biryani for a pure vegetarian meal.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Pineapple Cake (Annasi Cake)

 Pineapple Cake (Annasi cake)

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Pineapple is a very common fresh fruit throughout the whole year in Sri Lanka. In Europe it can be very hard to find a nice orange ripe fresh pineapple with an amazing smell. Instead, we tend to find green pineapples grown in glasshouses. In Sri Lanka we use pineapple a lot for a cooking, beverages, sweets and cakes. Upside-down cake was one of my teenage favourite cakes, here is my own recipe for pineapple cake suitable to serve as dessert at a dinner party.

 

INGREDIENTS

125g butter or margarine, softened

125g caster sugar

2 medium eggs

125g self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbs milk

1 tbs lemon juice

 

METHOD

Heat the oven to 180′. Line a small round cake tin with baking parchment. Cream the butter and the sugar together until pale (use an electric hand mixer if you have one). Beat in the eggs. Sift the four and baking powder together then fold into the butter and egg mixture using a large metal spoon. Add the milk and lemon juice, then pour the mixture into the lined cake tin. Gently spread out with a spatula then bake for 20-25 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack.

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For the pineapple stew
1 ripe medium pineapple (peeled and diced)
2 pieces of cinnamon stick
4 tbs sugar
Mixed all together and slow cook until the pineapple has absorbed the syrup and become dry. Remove the cinnamon sticks then let the stew cool down

Icing 
100g unsalted butter
175g icing sugar
Mix all together until a smooth cream (or use whipped double cream)

Cut the cake in two, sandwich with the cream and pineapple stew, decorate and finish as you like.

 


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Dhal and Carrot Curry (Carrot Parippu Vanjanaya)

Dhal and Carrot Curry (Carrot Parippu Vanjanaya)

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In Sri Lanka we have a few varieties of lentils. Red lentils are the most popular because you can fix a quick and easy meal with them. Red lentils are full of nutrition. I have already published a recipe for spinach and lentil curry but do try with baby carrot and dhal.

INGREDIENTS

200g red lentils (washed a couple of times)
200g baby carrot (peeled and sliced)
1 onion (sliced)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
3 sprigs of curry leaves
2 green chilli (sliced)
1 medium tomato (diced)
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 small cinnamon stick
1 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
Salt to taste

METHOD

Wash the lentils well and rinse, then add to a pan with the one cup of water and all the ingredients except coconut milk and salt. Bring to a boil and let simmer until the lentils are soft, then add the coconut milk and salt. Stir well and adjust the seasoning, let it simmer then remove from the heat. You can try with rice or bread. Enjoy!


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Cabbage Leaves Salad (Gova Kola Malluma)

Cabbage Leaves Salad (Gova Kola Malluma)

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In Sri Lanka you can find two or three varieties of cabbage the whole year. I already did a few different dishes in my blog, this is the one of my Mum’s favourites. She used to mix chopped cabbage ribs (from the centre of the leaf) together with the finely shredded leaves. In most of the Sri Lankan gardens you can easily find green cabbage leaves growing in flower pots. Apart from its wonderful taste, the good thing about this dish is it is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It is also a good source of thiamin and many other nutrients.

INGREDIENTS
250g green cabbage (wash and shred the leaves finely)
I onion (finely shredded)
2 garlic cloves (crushed and chopped)
2 green chilli (finely chopped)
1/2 freshly grated coconut
1/2 lemon or lime juice
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 crushed dry chilli
Salt and black pepper

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METHOD

Mix the coconut with all the ingredients except the cabbage and lime. Heat the nonstick pan, add the mixture and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes. Then add the cabbage, mix with the edge of a wooden spoon. Immediately remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, check the seasoning. For best results prepare this dish at the very last moment when you are ready to eat.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Sri Lankan Vegetable Biryani

Sri Lankan Vegetable Biryani

 

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I never use artificial colours or flavours in my cooking. They were not available to my mother, and she taught me to create the full flavour from the natural ingredients themselves. A biryani is rice cooked together usually with meat or fish, but this pure vegetable version that I have made on  special occasions in Sri Lanka and here in London is so tasty that you won’t miss the meat. All the root vegetables and the aubergine are roasted in the oven to get more flavour, and the green vegetables are cooked with rice (to keep them green). My friends and family all love this dish, and I hope you will too!

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INGREDIENTS

500g rice
250g green vegetables (beans, asparagus, courgette)
350g root vegetables (parsnips, carrot, sweet potato, onion, celeriac)
3 tbs ginger and garlic (chopped)
1 aubergine (diced)
150g tomato (chopped)
100g leeks or spring onion (sliced)
Handful of basil leaves or coriander leaves
4 sprigs curry leaves
1 tbs dry herbs
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 black pepper seeds
1/2 mustard seeds
1 tbs cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick and star anise
Pinch of saffron strands, or turmeric powder
50g roasted cashew nuts
3 tbs olive oil
1/2 half lemon
3 tbs plain yogurt
Boiling water
Salt and pepper to taste

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METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180*. Dice and mix all the root vegetables with aubergine, oil, dry herbs and seasoning. Use the pestle and mortar to grind the seeds. Boil the rice with the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and star anise and the lemon. When the rice is cooked, squeeze the lemon and remove the whole spices. Then add the diced green vegetables and cover. Heat the oil in a pan and add ginger, garlic, curry leaves, spice seeds powder, tomato, leeks and yogurt. Remove from the heat and season. Mix all together and add cashews and chopped basil, then garnish as you like. I served mine with boiled egg curry and devilled potato.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Sri Lankan Chocolate Roll

Sri Lankan Chocolate Roll

When I was small, my Dad never forgot to buy this ready-made chocolate roll for me to share with my friends and teachers on the last day of school. He bought it from a well-known bakery and confectionery, Elephant House in Colombo.

Chocolate Roll
INGREDIENTS

175g self raising flour
150g sugar
125g butter (melted)
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
Pinch of salt

For the Sandwich Cream
100g soft butter
125g icing sugar
1 tbs cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp honey

Mix all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 180*C, Gas Mark 4. Lightly grease a shallow tin 12′ x 15′ (lined with baking paper). Sift the flour with baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Mix together the eggs, sugar, milk, butter, vanilla and then add flour mixture a little at a time until it is free of lumps. Pour into the lined tray, bake for about 30 minutes. Let it cool down on a wire rack.

On a tea towel, arrange a double layer of clingfilm and put the cake on the top. Spread the cream all over with a flat knife.
Using the tea towel as a guide, carefully roll up the cake away from you, along with the clingfilm. Tie both ends of the clingfilm and let it cool and set up in the fridge. Then remove clingfilm, slice and serve. You can freeze this and keep it for quite some time.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.