Wild bounty

Wild bounty

By
Channa Dassanayaka
Contains
18 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781740660662
Photographer
Craig Wood

Curries are the most famous and most prevalent of all Sri Lankan dishes. Despite the fact that there is such an infinite variety of curries, the more one becomes familiar with Sri Lankan food, the more one sees there are categories of curries to which each different dish belongs.

Curries owe their character to the freshly ground spices for which Sri Lanka is so famous – coriander, cardamom, cumin and chilli. Curry leaves also play an important part in the flavour and it is believed they help counteract the cholesterol in the coconut oil traditionally used by Sri Lankans.

Curries are an amalgam of ingredients in which individual flavours are not easily distinguished. From meat and poultry to seafood and vegetable-based versions highlighting jackfruit, pumpkin or sweet potato, Sri Lankan curries offer an endless array of possibilities that will never cease to stimulate and inspire.

At the table they are mixed with rice, sambols, chutneys or pickles, together with bread, hoppers or broken pappadams. If a curry proves to be too hot, eat some more rice or bread with it; water will only accentuate the burning sensation.

And remember, try mixing everything and eating with your fingers – you’ll be surprised what a difference it can make.

Curry powder

In the past, my grandmother used to prepare curry powder daily, using whole ingredients that were either roasted or sun-dried before grinding. If they were being roasted, each ingredient in turn was heated in a pan until its desired colour was reached – light, dark or very dark. The end result could vary between mild or pronounced curry powder aromas, which filled the house each day. The mixed spices were then ground in a mortar and pestle and the women who worked in the kitchen would use these blends to prepare the meals.

My mother stressed that the order in which each ingredient was placed in the pan for roasting was essential. The biggest ingredients are added first to roast through – chilli, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick – while ingredients such as fenugreek and turmeric are added last so as not to burn them. This is the secret of fine curry powder.

Each and every house in a village will make a slightly different blend of curry powder, but my mum always said the secret is in the spices.

When the mixture was right, the aroma of the roasting spices could be smelt in neighbouring villages. And when the aroma was right, I always used to wish I could join the family making that blend for lunch. In the village today, they still make curry powder by hand rather than buying it from the shops. My mother would grind the spices with coconut, using a grinding stone and adding water to the bowl. She would keep the ball of moist curry powder in the fridge for use. You should keep curry powders in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, or in the fridge, as you would fresh coffee.

Roasted curry powders are ideal for meat curries, while unroasted powder suits vegetable curries. But this is a rule that can be broken.

For vegetarians, cook with roasted curry powders as it will produce a stronger flavour in the absence of meat flavouring. You should also use roasted curry powders in soya curries.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again