The Sri Lanka food journal : in my kitchen

I made the hoppers with ready to use coconut flour and the taste was no different from using fresh coconut milk. An experiment shared :-)

In sri lanka you can never miss a shop that has hoppers. They have it in the front with many hopper pans and the aroma is so good. Every time i see the hopper stand at a hotel i think it’s a special course they follow to make maybe and i never thought i will master it. This was my second and attempt at making hoppers and it was successful.  made the hoppers with ready to use coconut flour and the taste was no different from using fresh coconut milk.
An experiment shared 🙂

In sri lanka prawns or shrimps are cooked into a gravy, fried and served with salad leaves or made into a spicy devil. We also use it to make buriyani and fried rice or even chinese soups. They also sell prawn wada at galle face. I’ve been making prawn gravy and devil from the age of 17 and ever since i got married i never tried it. It’s been many years now and i was craving for some sri lankan prawn gravy and devil. So i decided to cook it. The special taste of a sri lankan prawn gravy comes with a binding of prawns and sri lankan spices. Yea we don’t forget to use the spices in all our dishes. I couldn’t get a proper photo shoot of my prawn gravy as i was so hungry and busy devouring it so tokk the shot from my plate. I guess you can see the spices.

Prawn gravy

Ingredients

1 onion chopped

2 green chillies cut into 2

1 medium size tomato cut into 6

A few curry leaves

1 and a half cups of coconut milk thick and light

1 cup prawns or shrimps

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 stick cinnamon

5 cloves of garlic chopped

A few slices of ginger chopped

3 pinches of turmeric powder

Chillie powder and crushed peper to taste

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon roasted curry powder

2 tbsp oil

1 large potatoes chopped into tiny cubes

Method to cook

  1. Heat oil in a pan and temper the onions with curry leaves.
  2. Add the fenugreek seed, crushed ginger and garlic along with the green chillies and tomato.
  3. Stir and add the prawns with the potatoes.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, chillie powder, curry powder and turmeric powder.
  5. Keep stirring for a minute over a low flame and pour the thin coconut milk and let it cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  6. Pour the thick coconut milk and let it simmer over a  medium  high heat.
  7. Take off and garnish with some corruander leaves and a dash of lime juice.
  8. Serve hot with a bowl of rice.

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I made my very own roasted curry powder and this is how i did it.

Add 2 tbsp coriander seeds, 1/4 tsp of cumin seeds, a stick of cinnmon, some pepper seeds.

Roast it over a medium flame till you get the aroma of spices making sure not burn by stirring constantly or swirling the pan. Grind to a powder in your dry grinder and store in an airtight container.

I made a little and used all up in a week so am not sure how long it will last but as long as it’s dry and kept closed you can keep it for sometime. Make little if you eat curry atyle food rarely. Make a lot if your are a regular curry eater. I mean by curry is using curry powder on all meat gravy dishes and some vegetables.  We sri lankans use it daily in all our cooking except rice.

Roasted curry powder

Roasted curry powder

Cambodge

Cambodge

Cambodge  is really very interesting ingredient. Am not sure who uses it but we sri lankans use it often. We make ambul thiyals with cambodge we also add this to our beef or mutton gravy. It adds a very sour taste somewhat similar to adding tamarind to your gravies but my mum used to say when cambodge is added to beef curry it helps it cook fast. The flavour of the gravy is enhanced.  The pantry can require a bot of some air fresher due to its strong odour apart from that when washed and added to the gravy before cooking you hardly smell it.  I wanted to make some ambul thiyals and polos curry aka breadfruit curry so went and got myself a pack of cambodge and i add it to my gravies.

It’s really interesting to know the real shape of a a cambodge when it’s on the tree is similar to a lime. I just discovered it and have never seen a tree in person.

My grandparents used to keep the cambodge and tamarind with a little bit of rock salt and i am not aware of the reason i guess to preserve it for long cos when the tamarind is kept closed in a box for long you can see some flying objects appear from the inside so if you will be using it very rarely do add some salt anx store in an air tight container.  Not only the tamarind even the cambodge.

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In my kitchen : milk toffee and lime pickle

It’s been a busy month of cooking up my cravings.

Last month saw some sri lankan milk toffees in my kitchen. Trust me i love milk toffees and my childhood story of getting a few milk toffees from the shop everytime my parents run me over to the grocery ended up with lots of dental visits and nights with a painful tooth  yes milk toffees are really too sweet and you can call it milk and sugar toffee. They have both ingredients equivalent and taste really delicious if a few cashew nuts are chopped into and cut.

The usual milk toffees in the local grocery are basically made if coconut milk but milkmaid from nestle released a milk toffee using nestle condensed milk. The recipe was on the reverse of the condensed milk cans label But i never attempted to try it as i was not so sure and it was when i was on my teens.

The last few times i tried it it turned out into rock hard caramel and i hardly could eat it cos it never melted even if i kept sucking it for hours. So u gave up my attempts at making milk toffees until 3 weeks ago a lady on a group in Facebook posted an image if homemade milk toffees. She also was kind enough to share the recipe which she claimed was from nestle milkmaid cans label. Ok now i got the courage and found out it was my fault on my previous attempts as i cooked it for too long. This time i followed the recipe exactly and got it right.

Happiness is making something taste exactly the way it should

So here are an image of my milk toffees.

I couldn't cut it into equal size as it was too hot to handle but i nailed the taste :-)

I couldn’t cut it into equal size as it was too hot to handle but i nailed the taste 🙂

We call this milk toffee as kiri toffee in sri lanka and now i hardly see them at supermarkets.

Making something you like by yourself is a real pleasure.

These winter in dubai is saying goodbye while my kitchen smelled of milk toffees i also had a liking for those lime pickles in sri lanka which was solt in small packets with its own juice. I thought it was done under the sun but now i learnt fdom some inline research and videos it can be done either way and as it was winter keeping the pickles under the sun was not much of a possibility as i sometimes can forget to take the nar in the evening. I have no balcony so i have to keep it on the window sill and watch for it making sure my visiting birds don’t stumble upon them.

So i started making my own lime pickle by cutting a lime and stuffing with some rock sea salt and put it in a jar with more extra salt covering the lime halfway.

A week passed by keeping the jar out just to try the traditional way when the sun was out and i decided to stop it.

I squeezed in some lime juice and kept it over the kitchen work top. Its a month now and my pickle is ready. I know its not instant but the wait was worth it because it tasted exactly like the sri lankan lime pickle and the lime was really tasting a bit spicy as i slit a green chillie and soaked it in to get the flavour mixed a week before. Now my green chillie is also getting pickled.

This type of lime pickle tastes good in sri lankan achcharu or malay pickle. We even make a onion sambol with the pickle. Now that i have mastered the pickling art i am gonna do more in sha allah.

The squeezed in lime juice was the magical ingredient that made the lime soft and translucent.

Now pickling is not that tough, get a jar and add those extra limes in with some salt and lime juice and keep it on the work top corner.

After a month eat your own himemade pickles 🙂

Thalanabatu curry :Thai eggplant

I have a wish when cooking authentic sri lankan food which is to cook like my grandma’s or mum. Though my mum cooked very rarely it was good and i remember my grandma’s food which was very aromatic and delicious.  I have never seen my mum’s mum cook though I’ve tasted it. I always try to gety food taste like my mama ma’s food.

Yesterday was one such day when i attempted thalanabatu curry for the first time in dubai and thats also with those jumbo thai eggplants. Yes we in sri lanka call it thalanabatu which is in sinhalese but here they call it thai eggplant and some places label it as indian green brinjal. I have always seen them but never but assuming they might be raw and only recently i learnt that thalanabatu is called thai eggplant and thats sp huge in the market elsewhere. In Sri Lanka we get tiny ones which are the size of 2 cherry tomatoes and i remember my grandma in negombo ad a tiny tree at the backyard from which she mentioned she took some thai eggplants and cooked.

They add a variety of spices to it and it’s cooked in coconut milk like most sri lankan vegetables.  You can also make it into a devil by adding some Maldives fish.

Here is my step by step recipe to cook sri lankan style thai eggplant curry.

Ingredients bave not been measured or mentioned as i follow my instincts and use freestyle cooking when it comes to sri lankan vegetables and curries.

These are the thai eggplants am talking about.  They are also called indian green brinjal. Take them and hit them with a meat tenderiser or something similar to loosen the seeds inside it doesnt matter if they burst in the process. But make sure to put it in a bag and them smash them.incass the juice splashes on you and yoyr wearing a light color dress the stain may be stubborn.

These are the thai eggplants am talking about. They are also called indian green brinjal.
Take them and hit them with a meat tenderiser or something similar to loosen the seeds inside it doesnt matter if they burst in the process. But make sure to put it in a bag and them smash them.incass the juice splashes on you and yoyr wearing a light color dress the stain may be stubborn.

Cut the stem off and put it in a bowl of water and scrape of the seeds

Cut the stem off and put it in a bowl of water and scrape of the seeds

They should look clean as shown in the picture once your discard the seeds and wash them thrice in cold water.

They should look clean as shown in the picture once your discard the seeds and wash them thrice in cold water.

Chop some ginger with a few cloves of garlic

Chop some ginger with a few cloves of garlic

Slice an onion and split into 2 some green chillies. Add a couple of cinnamon sticks and keep them ready.

Slice an onion and split into 2 some green chillies. Add a couple of cinnamon sticks and curry leaves. keep them ready.

Wash half a teaspoon of fenugreek and a half teaspoon mustard seeds and leave it aside.

Wash half a teaspoon of fenugreek and a half teaspoon mustard seeds and leave it aside.

Heat a tablespoon oil and temper the onions with the mustard seed mix.

Heat a tablespoon oil and temper the onions with the mustard seed mix.

Add the green eggplants and season with 2 pinches of turmeric powder,  2 pinches of chillie powder and sone salt.

Add the green eggplants and season with 2 pinches of turmeric powder, 2 pinches of chillie powder and sone salt.

Stir and pour a cup of light coconut milk with 1/2 a cup of thick coconut milk. Cover and cook over a low flame until the milk has reduced to half and the gravy is thick and creamy. Taste and  add sone salt if required.

Stir and pour a cup of light coconut milk with 1/2 a cup of thick coconut milk.
Cover and cook over a low flame until the milk has reduced to half and the gravy is thick and creamy. Taste and add sone salt if required.

Once the eggplant is cooked add a few drops of lime juice and turn off heat. The curry should look like shown in the picture.  Thick and creamy. Its not spicy its yummy

Once the eggplant is cooked add a few drops of lime juice and turn off heat.
The curry should look like shown in the picture. Thick and creamy.
Its not spicy its yummy

I made using 3 large thai eggplants you can adjust the milk quantity according to your eggplant quantity.  Other ingredients can be also doubled.

This keeps well on the fridge for 3 days.

Serve warm with a hot cup of rice and choice of protein.

In My Kitchen : cooking for cravings

Suddenly i got some cravings for sri lankan style lunch and started cooking what i felt like eating and took many photos which am gonna share now. In sri lanka we have rice and curry as we call it for lunch. It’s basically a plate of rice with various vegetables cooked into a gravy sort of dish or fried and made as a salad. Yes there are certain vegetables that tastes great when fried and added to salads. A few vegetables we cook are beetroots, raddish, ash plantains, brinjal and snake gourds. We temper the onions and curryleaves in oil and cook the vegetables by adding some light coconut milk and onces the vegetables are tender we add some thick coconut milk to give the gravy a rich look. The basic spices used are turmeric powder and chillie powder. These vegetables call for a spicy thick gravy which usually is mutton, beef, chicken or fish. We even have dry fish gravy at times or make a prawn gravy which tastes so devine. These food are very rare in dubai unless i drive to a sri lankan restaurant in karama. So weekdays i make it a point to make something i crave and freeze so i can use it whenever i want. And yes it’s not always just this time for the preggy needs only 🙂

This chicken gravy below is made to my grandmas style she was my dads mum from colombo and she made the best chicken gravy or anything she cooked tasted so delicious maybe because there was some love added with the spices. She taught me how to make a good chicken gravy and i decided to make it her way because i was craving for grandmas food.

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I returned from sri lanka in January with a bottle of cooked polos or jack fruit curry and sprats devil all store bought to give it a try and it tasted so good that i ate it all so soon. I am now wanting more of it but sadly it’s finished. Now i know the vrand to get readymade polos curry. Homemade is greater but i gotta get my hands on those raw jack fruit so i can make my own polos and freeze.

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Beetroot shredded and cooked in coconut milk. During our childhood days we used to pour alot of this beetroot gravy and compete with my siblings whose rice is more red. Seriously it was fun. Memories 🙂 I guess it’s the best way to serve your kids some vegetables. This vegetable goes well with spicy fish gravy 🙂

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This is my snakegourd curry. We chop the snake gourd in to thin slices and cook in coconut milk. It tastes better when some chopped maldives fish is added and goes well with a nice mutton curry. This vegetable has some good helath benifits and is very tasty.

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This is one more vegetable that tastes good no matter how you make it. Its healthy as well. Bittergourd yes its bitter as its name says but its better when you make a devil.

This is one more vegetable that tastes good no matter how you make it. Its healthy as well. Bittergourd yes its bitter as its name says but its better when you make a devil.

Bittergourd devil recipe

Ingredients 2 Bittergourd 1 onion chopped 2 green chillies chopped 1 small tomato chopped A few curry leaves chopped 1 tbsp Maldives fish (optional) Or a few raw mango pieces finely chopped 1/4 tsp Turmeric 1 tsp chillie powder or 2  if you like extra spicy Salt to taste 2 tsp lime juice 1/2 tsp chillie flakes A little crushed pepper as required Salt to taste 3 tbsp Oil Lets cook it ; 1. Heat oil and temper onions with curry leaves until onions are translucent. 2. Chop the bitter gourd and soak in salt water before washing for half an hour which will reduce its bitterness.  Later wash and drain off the water. 3. If using Maldives fish add it to the onions and stir in the bitter gourd. 4. Season with the turmeric, chillie powder and chillie flakes. 5. Add the salt and pepper with green chillies and keep stirring. 6. Reduce heat and add a cup of water keep it closed till the bitter gourd is tender and the water has evaporated. 7. At this stage add the mango if using and stir in the lime juice. 8. Mix well and fry on a medium flame till the oil seperates from the Bittergourd slightly.  Switch on extractor and open windows ita gonna be a bit smoky. Take off heat and serve hot with rice and dhal. Trust me this is the best devil I’ve ever tasted. Here is a link before you decide if bitter gourd is for you or not which is very informative and i searcged it online for my own knowledge http://juicing-for-health.com/basic-nutrition/healing-vegetables/health-benefits-of-bitter-gourd.html This link says pregnant women should avoid bitter gourd or its juice so if your having any medical condition or  is pregnant please ask your doctor.  Other normal people can try it.

Watti Soru : Sri lankas other side

We all know the basic traditional Sri lankan food but to be honest I hardly know much of the Sri lankan food. I have relatives in Colombo, negombo and beruwela but Sri Lanka has many towns which are all different to one another. People in Galle cook rice in a different way than of those in Colombo and negombo. Yes I got to know that after my cousin brother married a girl from Galle. She taught my entire family how to make the normal rice aromatic and interesting.  We cook rice just plain with salt or if its yellow rice we add some cinnamon, garlic and pandan leaf with a few french onions. We make buriyani and ghee rice too but when its normal rice and curry we just cook the rice plain with salt. It has no flavour or aroma. People in Galle cook it with curry leaves and pandan leaves to make it aromatic. Now that’s very interesting. When the rice smells good you don’t need any side dish you can just eat it from the pot. Like wise my mother in law makes her rice a bit different by adding some raisins and cashew with onions tempered in oil. It’s different and I am sure kids will  like rice when its different and it’s the beruwela way which i didn’t know till I got married though my mum has a part in beruwela she lived the Colombo style ever since she moved to Colombo after marrying my dad.

Recently I met a friend who is my brother in laws mother in law. It makes her happy to call her as a friend as she is too young to be called as an aunt.  I got to know her only after the wedding and found so much of a foodie in her. She was a living foodie, I hear people say she cooks and send home lots of stuff especially to my mother in law and sister-in-law. But I tasted them only after the wedding.  Trust me she cooks the best beef. She makes good food that’s Sri lankan. She often mentions about the techniques and methods she use to cook and I find it quiet interesting. I can write a whole post about her food. She is the one who made me think of making hoppers. Her stories are really fascinating and when she mentioned how her mother in law questions about the food and the methods used to prepare I was really mesmerized.  She uses those traditional grinding methods to make a fish curry where she grinds the chilli and stuff using those large black stone like thing you roll over the ingredients to grind am not sure what’s it called in English.

She even said they use bred to make hoppers and that’s when i remembered my mum also mentioned that her mother used to make hoppers for them using bread pieces and she was served 5 hoppers for breakfast. Oh my grandma has been such a nice cook. She was from negombo and she cooked the best chicken curry, the best battu curry and best ash plantain  she used the traditional clay pot and wood fire until she went sick and was no more able to stand near a wood fire to cook. Her food smelled so good and the aroma of cooking made sure to bring the entire family to the dining table no matter what they did.

Getting back to my friend she was so nice to prepare a good seafood meal for me and my husband as a send of treat. What she served us made me really happy. It was all fish and prawns. Not the ordinary rice and curry this was different.  She said they call it watti soru and it’s usually served on a banana leaf but as they dint have a banana leaf she served as it is and it was all in a sahan.

meaning of watti soru in english – watti means a flat woven basket sort of thing in Sri Lanka. soru means rice in Tamil in sri Lanka. so its basically basket rice 🙂

The rice the fish fried, deviled, cooked and the prawns deviled. Some vegetables fried and cooked. Grated carrots.

Papadam and curd chillies which were my favourite at any meals. There was some green stuff. Everything on a sahan almost mixed and topped. It’s like a one pot meal but every ingredient you taste has been specially prepared separately and carefully.  They all had their unique taste. She says it’s usually made for pregnant women as a treat but she made it for me as a treat for going to Dubai.

Now am sure you might be anxious to see the image of the dish. Here it is ;

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FYI she was doing i  weligama style 🙂

So like wise there are many parts of sri lanka that i have not yet discovered or experienced jafna is one such part and i hear that food is different in jafna.

Most people are taken the taste of food with those machines which make us lazy. Try grinding your spices using a mortar and pestal and cooking in a clay pot or wood fire the taste is obviously different.

Sri lankas food basically includes its traditional spices like cinnamon sticks, curry leaves, pandan leaves, cloves and pepper. chillie powder and turmeric is a must in most vegetables and meat curry.

Hope you enjoyed exploring a bit of sri lanka with me.

Sri lanka and it’s Food

A Photo Story

Some of the sweets served after the waleema function.  Those marzipan strawberries were a hit.

Some of the sweets served after the waleema function. Those marzipan strawberries were a hit.

Trust me those are the best kokis I've ever tasted it with pani/treacle and are so delicious.

Trust me those are the best kokis I’ve ever tasted it with pani/treacle and are so delicious.

The waleema menu was a bit different to the ordinary buriyani. They also served roti with tandoori chicken.

The waleema menu was a bit different to the ordinary buriyani. They also served roti with tandoori chicken.

Those tandoori chicken needs to be eaten hot before you send your guests home :-)

Those tandoori chicken needs to be eaten hot before you send your guests home 🙂

Alright dessert was gajar ka halwa with vanilla ice cream. It was different no usual watalappam serced but that's ok because we had watalappam at many other occasions.

Alright dessert was gajar ka halwa with vanilla ice cream. It was different no usual watalappam serced but that’s ok because we had watalappam at many other occasions.

Sri lankan love cake made to serve the guests at the wedding.  It was so delicious i ate a few after a week too.

Sri lankan love cake made to serve the guests at the wedding. It was so delicious i ate a few after a week too.

These ve cakes keep well over the shelf for days.

These love cakes keep well over the shelf for days.

My sisters homemade kimbula buns. Of course they look a bit thin like my sister but taste the exact same as the bakery buns. I got her recipe and need to try it soon.

My sisters homemade kimbula buns. Of course they look a bit thin like my sister but taste the exact same as the bakery buns. I got her recipe and need to try it soon.

We payed a visit to a cousins house which was having a wedding in a week and this is what we enjoyed.  The traditional thosi. Wow they had nelli thosi and ambarella thosi with love cakes and hot hot patties.

We payed a visit to a cousins house which was having a wedding in a week and this is what we enjoyed.
The traditional thosi. Wow they had nelli thosi and ambarella thosi with love cakes and hot hot patties.

Pilawoos a normal restaurant in Colombo is very famous for its cheese koththu. They are famous for koththus actually.  You can see vehicles lined up on the road to eat pr takeaway koththu at anytime till they close. These koththus are to die for and you should eat it with those spicy gravy thats served in a tiny bag.

Pilawoos a normal restaurant in Colombo is very famous for its cheese koththu. They are famous for koththus actually. You can see vehicles lined up on the road to eat pr takeaway koththu at anytime till they close.
These koththus are to die for and you should eat it with those spicy gravy thats served in a tiny bag.

Food : My Vacation in Sri lanka

Words can never just explain how my vacation in sri lanka was for my fellow readers. So i made sure to click some

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That the bumbai muttai and nice i seriously dont know whats it called in other parts of the world and I’ve never seen it else where i went.

To the next stage:
Did i mention i came down for my brother in laws wedding? Yes i did. So weddings means buckets and trays of sweets. It all pours in to the wedding house from somewhere. In sri Lanka friends and relatives take a dish and make it to bring for the wedding house. That sweet is served for the visitors and the house members. So extra sugar is 100% guaranteed if you are going to a wedding house or living in a wedding house.
So let me introduce you to the sweets section.

First comes sri lankas very own kimbula buns. Oh we can eat 2 for breakfast it's so sweet but not very sweet

First comes sri lankas very own kimbula buns. Oh we can eat 2 for breakfast it’s so sweet but not very sweet
Ok let me take a break need something spicy so here is my lunch. It was sri lankan food. Super spicy chicken curry with rice and vegetables cooked in sri lankan style served with a salad. I just enjoyed every mouth.20141224_155653
One more item is yet to be introduced as a spicy dish my mother in laws special pol sambol. Yes it’s different i have seen my cousin make it with garlic and it tastes awesome but this tasted even special with dried fish blended and mixed to the ordinary pol sambol.
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Next is –

[caption id="attachment_3959" align="alignnone" width="300"]Pineapple with salt and chillie. I know we get pineapple here but its a bit expensive and they sell it with chillie and sugar at dragin mart it's sri lankan style to have it with salt and chillie i just love the combo. Pineapple with salt and chillie. I know we get pineapple here but its a bit expensive and they sell it with chillie and sugar at dragin mart it’s sri lankan style to have it with salt and chillie i just love the combo.

Back to colombo cos thats where the wedding took place.

And we this was what i had at the mehendi party at the brides house.
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at cinnamon grand for an ice cream amidst heavy showers. yes it was a rainy night 🙂 i tried this apple ice cream and panettone which sound a bit weird but tasted fine 🙂

 

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a spread for the visitors which we also ate in colombo. the olden days have when dosi, dodol, paniyaram and murukku was served in small bowls and placed in large sahans. the brownies and cupcakes have taken over the place but there are still towns like negombo and other parts of colombo which go by tradition. i wish i can show you a picture of that soon till then this is how the wedding house looked 🙂

 

the sri lankan traditional appa the best part was they had an appa party with a person doing at home. it was soo nice to see the appa being made at home and served hot. the egg hoppers and the chicken curry was a hit. this appa stand was my favourite of the entire trip. i was so eagerly waiting with my camera until the appa making began. i am gonna master this very soon in sha allah 🙂

dodol yes this is made by one of the aunts. its tasty and oily but trust me it worth it. it’s a traditional sweet made in sri lanka and i dono the origin but sure it’s sri lankan.

my cooking a very simple dinner homemade pasta, tuna devil, milk gravy with egg and pol samol served with stringhoppers.

I GUESS FOR TODAY THIS IS ENOUGH.
i will post the remaining soon till then have a great weekend 😉