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.

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)

ala raduna kaju

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.