Lotus Root Curry (Nelum ala Vanjanaya)

Lotus root is a well-known vegetable in Asia – in Sri Lanka we use it for curry and in soup. In London, lotus root is not so easy to find (except in Asian supermarkets) but if you can get hold of it please do try this recipe (my own!). It is full of nutrition and also very tasty.


INGREDIENTS 

250g lotus root (cleaned and sliced)

2 medium tomatoes (diced)

I onion (chopped)

2 garlic cloves (chopped)

2 green chilli (sliced)

3 sprigs curry leaves

1 inch cinnamon stick

1 tsp curry powder

1/2 turmeric powder

1/2 mustard seeds

1 tbs olive oil

1 cup coconut milk

Salt to taste

METHOD

Mix the curry powder with the sliced lotus roots and keep to one side. Heat the oil in a pan and add garlic, onion, curry leaves, chilli, cinnamon and mustard sees. Cook for about five minutes or until the aromas come out. Then add the lotus roots, tomatoes and salt and mix together. Cover and slow cook for about 10 minutes then add the coconut milk. Simmer on a low flame, check the seasoning. When the gravy is absorbed into the vegetable, remove from the heat (make sure no to overcook). If you like, sprinkle with half a teaspoon of roasted curry powder. Serve with rice or bread.

 


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Jack Seed Curry (Kos ata kalupol maluwa)

Jack seed curry is a well-known Sri Lankan  dish. I still remember Mum making this with fresh jack seeds, full of flavour. A pure vegetarian dish, you can make it for lunch or dinner instead of fish or meat curry.

 

INGREDIENTS

30 jack seeds with shell

1 big onion (chopped)

4 garlic cloves (chopped)

2 tbs chopped fresh ginger

4 green chilli (sliced)

4 sprigs of curry leaves

2 tbs raw rice (pan roasted and ground)

3 tbs scraped coconut (pan roasted and ground)

3 small pieces dried bridle berry (goraka)

1 piece of cinnamon

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 mustard powder

1 1/2 tbs roasted curry powder

1 tbs chilli powder

1/2  black pepper powder

2 tbs vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups water

2 cups coconut milk

Salt

METHOD

Roughly crush the jack seeds. Heat the oil in a pan, add garlic, ginger,onion, chilli, cinnamon and curry leaves and cook until the aromas come out. Then add all spices, roasted coconut and rice powder. Add the jack seeds and water, mix well and cover and cook until they are soft. Then add the coconut milk, check the seasoning and simmer until the jack seeds absorb the flavours. Serve with boiled rice or bread. For best results use a clay pot.

 

 


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Sri Lankan Broccoli with Fresh Coconut (Mellum)

In SriLanka we use the same recipe for different varieties of green leaves and raw jackfruit – it’s very popular with authentic rice and curry. I hope you will enjoy my own recipe with broccoli,  I even managed to find a broccoli flower for garnish.

INGREDIENTS 

300g broccoli

4 tbs  fresh coconut

2 sprigs of curry leaves

2 red or green chillis

1/2 onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic

1 tbs ginger

1 tsp mustard powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 black pepper seeds

1 tbs lime juice

Salt

3 tbs water

 

 

METHOD 

Shred the green part of the broccoli, transfer into a pan with water. Cover and cook on a low flame until the water disappears. Grind the coconut with the rest of the ingredients and mix with the broccoli (I use a pestle and mortar but you could use a food processor). Cook for a few minutes, then remove from the heat. Add the lime juice, serve with rice.

 


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Mushrooms with Vegetables

In Sri Lanka you can find several varieties of mushrooms. When you mix mushrooms with vegetables you get a great flavour, inspiring me to create this hearty vegetarian dish. It has become a firm favourite among my friends and family, and I hope you enjoy it too.


INGREDIENTS 

250g mushrooms (cleaned and cut)

100g onion (chopped)

2 cloves of garlic (chopped)

1 leek (washed and chopped)

200g broccoli (parboiled)

150g brussels sprouts (clean and par boiled)

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs crushed chilli flakes

Salt

METHOD 

Heat the oil in a pan, add the garlic, onion, and chilli. Cook until golden brown, then add the mushrooms and cook until soft. Then add the other vegetables and mix well. Check the seasoning then remove from the heat. Make sure not to overcook the green vegetables so they keep their crunchiness and nutritional content. You can serve this dish with rice or bread.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Mixed Vegetable Cutlets

Vegetarian finger food is very popular in Sri Lanka, especially cutlets. I am happy to share with you my own version of vegetable cutlets – they are lovely before a meal, and have had lots of great comments from friends.

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INGREDIENTS 

100g diced butternut (seedless and skinless)

100g leeks (washed and finely sliced)

1 red capsicum (seeded and finely chopped)

100g boiled red lentils

2 green chillies (finely chopped)

4 sprigs curry leaves (finely chopped)

2 garlic cloves (chopped)

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp cumin and coriander powder

1 tbs lime juice

2 eggs

100g fresh bread crumbs

Oil for deep frying

Salt to taste

 

METHOD 

Mix all the ingredients together with spices and seasoning. Take equally-sized amounts of the mixture and mould each into a ball. Beat eggs in a bowl and dip the balls into egg mixture, then coat with bread crumbs. Heat the oil and deep fry the cutlets until golden brown (the oil should be deep enough to cover the cutlets). Drain excess oil on paper towels. Serve as snack, or with rice and curry.

For my recipe for tuna balls, click here


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Mixed Colour Fresh Bean Curry (Bonchi Vanjanaya)

In Sri Lanka we have many varieties of beans available throughout the year. In London, I managed to get hold of yellow, green and purple beans to make my favourite curry. I hope you will all love it!

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INGREDIENTS 

300g mixed colour beans

1 big onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 green chillies, sliced

3 sprigs of curry leaves

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp raw curry powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 tbs vegetable oil

1/2 cup coconut milk

Salt to taste

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METHOD 

Remove the stems and threads from sides of beans and wash. Break each bean by hand into three pieces. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, garlic, curry leaves, chillies and spices. Cook until you get the aroma. Add the beans and mix well, cover and cook for 5 minutes only on a slow flame. Then add the coconut milk, check the seasoning and cook uncovered for another 7 minutes (don’t overcook or the beans will become discoloured). Remove from the heat, serve with rice.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Ridge Gourd Curry (Watakolu Vanjanaya)

 Ridge Gourd Curry (Watakolu Vanjanaya)

In Sri Lanka ridge gourds are available throughout year. They are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and calories and quite easy to cook. A delicate vegetable, I hope you enjoy this pure vegetarian mild curry.

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INGREDIENTS

250g ridge gourd, peeled and cut into thick slices

150g potato, peeled and sliced

1 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup water

1/2 lime juice

1 onion chopped

2 green chilli, sliced

1 garlic cloves, chopped

2 sprigs of curry leaves

1 piece of pandan leaf (rampa)

1 piece of cinnamon

1 tsp raw curry powder

1/4 tsp black pepper powder

1 tsp mustard seeds, pan toasted and ground

Salt to taste

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METHOD
In a pan put the half cup of water together with the potatoes and all other ingredients except for the mustard powder, coconut milk and lime juice*. Cover and cook 8-10 minutes. When the potatoes are cooked, add the ridge gourd and coconut milk, cook for 8 minutes stirring occasionally. Do no overcook. Remove from the heat, add the lime juice and mustard powder and check the seasoning. Serve with rice.

*Do not put the lime juice in until very end or the curry will curdle


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

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.

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.