For August we decided to try our hand at Sri Lankan food. Sri Lanka is a tiny island southeast of the southern tip of India, and once went by the name of Ceylon.
While it certainly shares common elements with Indian food, Sri Lankan cuisine is quite different. As a renowned spice island, Sri Lankan food has been influenced by countries around the globe. The food is spicy, colourful and exploding with flavour.
We got off to a good start on our Sri Lankan adventure, but things soon went awry as we had to deal with the news that our gorgeous dog Willow has lymphoma, a highly aggressive form of canine cancer. Looking at her you’d never know there was anything wrong, she’s bright, energetic and happy. Yet without treatment she’d be gone in weeks. So we’ve opted for chemotherapy, supported with herbal remedies and supplements. Lymphoma is a cancer that does respond well to treatment in the majority of cases, so we’re staying positive, or doing our best.
Curries in Sri Lanka are broadly classified as:
- white: which is quite mild and rich in coconut milk;
- red: which is rich in chilli powder or ground chillies; or
- black: where powered spice mixes achieve a deeper, richer flavour by toasting them until blackened.
Yellow lentil curry
I decided to start off with one of my favourite dishes – a dahl, or lentil curry. A simple but nutritious meal, there are an endless variety of ways to make dahl. In this version you cook which is classed as a white curry, the dahl in a simple mix of turmeric and curry powder. Then you brown the spices separately in a little oil and mix into in once the dahl is cooked.
Potato & cabbage curry
A potato curry is another favourite, and I added in some cabbage just because I felt like it. Another white curry, it’s flavoursome yet mild and deliciously coconutty.
Moving more into the red type of curry, Steve made this one. Full of flavour, with a lovely bite and lots of tomato and capsicum flavours. Showing the Asian influences, this one uses soy sauce.
Curried mini omelettes
For a weekday lunch treat, I decided to try making some mini curried omelettes. The vegetables were cooked first, then added to the batter mixture and poured into a muffin tray. You really need to let these cool completely before trying to get them out of the tray though or they fall apart. I knew I should wait, but was too keen to try one, and it predictably fell apart. Still tasted good though. They made a great lunch, served with salad and chutney.
Another dish by Steve, this was a little bit like a sweet and sour Indian style curry. The sauce is rich and thick. The sweetness comes from cinnamon and cardamom, plus the tartness of tamarind and of course some heat from the chilli.
Mushroom & chick pea curry
I had a hankering for mushrooms and chick peas, so putting them both in a curry seemed like the best option. Cooked in coconut milk, the sauce absorbs a lot of the mushroom flavour, as well as the spices.
Green bean curry
I’m starting to think it’s become my ‘thing’ (or one of my ‘things’) to make a green bean dish in every cuisine that Steve will love. Like cabbage, he claims not to really like green beans, yet he’s been a huge fan of so many of the dishes I’ve made with them, and this was no exception. Cooked in a little water and spices over a low heat with a little coconut milk added near the end, it was almost a stewed green bean curry. And it was good.