Monthly Archives: May 2014

Sri Lankan Egglicious Curry – for Dad

Now I have met a lot of people who don’t like some foods – “yeww fish – it stinks”, “urgh beef last time I had it, it was still bleeding” – my favourite way to have steak actually but that’s the kind of things I’ve heard people say. I have stopped eating as much meat as I used to. Mainly for the reason that the quality is not always guaranteed in Sri Lanka…transportation and storage issues in the climate and inability to keep the meat fresh (electricity cuts causes meat to thaw and refreeze for example), Plus local beef tends to be chewy and tough. I avoid eating it unless it is in a 5* star hotel that guarantees it is imported Australian tenderloin. Chicken less so although it is thawed and frozen numerous times in most shops (not just during electricity cuts!) so those with a less strong stomach than myself may be unwell. We also have had a few cases of Mad Cow Disease up North too which is troubling.

Fish and seafood is ok, providing it is fresh – buy from the market when the boats come in. However, I find myself mainly eating vegetarian (except for chicken, prawns, paraw and seer fish….the latter 2 being my weaknesses but I only buy from the market). If I was back in Holland this would all change – I would be chomping down a plate of carpaccio (raw sliced beef with olive oil, rocket and Parmesan – jeez I’m drooling), eating filet americain sandwiches (raw minced spiced beef with onions, capers and chili), eating blue steak (under cooked and bloody) and fish aplenty…oh sole…”tong” and mussles – I miss those foods here (not even to going to mention the cheese). Still, no mutton, lamb, pork (although I will have a slice of bacon if it is very crispy and has no fat on it) and eating offal is a crime – I leave the room if somebody eats it. Have to draw the line somewhere. I’m also not keen on gamey meat – rabbit, deer, goose, pheasant etc. So I guess I am a bit choosy.

Well this dish is extremely simple and tasty. I like it with fresh bread to dip in the gravy but you can also eat it with rice or even a roti.

Egg Curry Ingredients (for four):

  •  Eggs (obviously) – 1 or 2 per person depending how hungry your guests are. I can easily eat 2.
  • 2 biggish onions (chopped roughly)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (sliced)
  • 3 pods of cardamon (crushed)
  • 2 small sticks of cinnamon or half a tsp of cinnamon powder (the powder is more potent than the fresh sticks so be careful)
  • A sprig of curry leaves (if available…without the woody bit) or use some bay leaves or a pinch (and I mean a small pinch of unroasted curry powder…this dish is not meant to be hot)
  • 1 tbsp of turmeric (or more – don’t skimp on this – it’s not hot and tastes delicious)
  • 1 or 2 green chilies chopped (without seeds and go easy on the chili flakes if you use both)
  • 2 tsps of butter or ghee
  • Salt, pepper & chili flakes to taste
  • 500ml of coconut milk (fresh is best, or from a tin if in Europe or elsewhere – actually I usually use Maggi powder which is also nice)

Method:

  1. Boil your eggs (5 or 6 minutes max as they will be immersed in the curry sauce afterwards). Then remove, shell and keep.
  2. Fry the garlic, curry leaves, chilies and crushed cardamon in the butter
  3. After about 1 or 2 minutes add the onions and one cup of water for a minute or two on high heat
  4. Then add the chopped tomatoes, chili flakes (omit this if using lots of fresh chili), pepper (to taste), turmeric and some salt.
  5. Leave this mixture to cook for a few minutes more and then add the coconut milk
  6. Turn down the heat…simmer for a while and at the last moment add the boiled eggs – now some people add these whole but I usually quarter them. Take off the heat and serve. The curry should be a gorgeous yellow colour. Taste and add more salt, pepper and chili if required.

I often have this for breakfast with bread or pol roti. The picture below shows one whole egg….some like to break it up in the gravy. Completely a personal choice – I cut mine first. Other egg currys I have seen online had a red gravy – this normally means more chili. I prefer mine this way:

Egg Curry

Egg Curry

Garlic, onions, a touch of chili and quite a lot of turmeric is key here. It is honestly one of my favourite dishes after pol sambol.

So to my vegetarian dad – try it out! Love you x

 

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Filed under Healthy food, Sri Lankan food & recipes, Vegetarian recipes

Belated Mothers Day Recipe – Sri Lankan Beef Meat Balls (not ‘too’ spicy)

Well there is a little history behind this dish, dating back to when I was in my young 20’s (so yup 20 years ago – oh it pains me to say that ha ha). I had recently at that time been introduced to Turkey (the country not the animal 😉 ) by my Dad and absolutely loved the place and the food.

At that time I was at University in London and really learning how to cook and doing it surprisingly well (a skill learnt from my wonderful Mother). One dish I perfected at that time was kofte in tomato sauce (little beef or lamb mince balls in tomato sauce (always beef for me as I don’t eat lamb but I believe it is commonly cooked with lamb in Turkey)) sometimes topped with cheese and finished off under the grill or in an oven). Heaven on earth with chunks of fresh Turkish bread or baguettes and fresh tangy lemony salad and of course lashings of red wine.

So a year or so later I made this dish for my Mum and her other half, Marco (who are in case you wondering are still blissfully happy) and they loved it. However rather than put my original recipe here I’m going to give it some Sri Lankan flavour. Neither Mum or or her other half being too disposed to chilies I will tone it down – for you fire enthusiasts you can turn it up. Always remember a recipe is merely a guide. How you make it is the special result….and if it tastes like shit – don’t give up – keep trying, experiment, taste it…ALWAYS taste it.

FOR MY BEAUTIFUL MOTHER – SRI LANKAN MEATBALL CURRY (I promise it’s not too hot x)

Ingredients (for 2 or 3):

  • 500 gr of the best minced beef/lamb (not too much fat in the meat – this will make the gravy oily)
  • 2 eggs (to bind the meat balls)
  • breadcrumbs (now this can be from old bread or the dried supermarket variety – your preference…it is merely to bind the meat balls together with the eggs. A small handful is usually enough. (A friend just told me a handful of couscous works just as well)
  • 1 large onion or 2 small onions chopped extremely finely
  • 2 cloves of extremely fine chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp of oregano
  • 1 tbsp of cumin powder (I prefer more but we are toning this down remember)
  • 1/2 tbsp of chili powder (or less – I prefer more but we are toning this down remember)
  • 1 tbsp of turmeric (“kurkuma” in Dutch mum) (this is essential for the Sri Lankan taste – do not mess around here, if anything add more – I would add one table spoon for 500 gr usually)
  • A pinch of curry powder – again – up to personal taste (NOT roasted…just plain old curry powder will do; home-made, shop-bought – just get the required taste in there. You can add fresh curry leaves too if available or if not maybe a bay leaf or two.
  • Salt and pepper as per your own taste

Method:

  • Mix ALL of the above.
  • Roll into meatballs about about 2 or 3 cm in diameter. You can chill these on a plate whilst you prepare the sauce.

Ingredients for the sauce.gravy:

  • 25 gr onion (oh that sounds daft – 2 or 3 small onions chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves; finely chopped
  • 2 ginger, fresh; finely chopped
  • 25 ml oil 
  • 1 curry leaf sprig (not necessary if already used in meat mixture unless desired)
  • 1/2 large chopped lemon grass stem (known as pandan in Sri Lanka) – I use lots more but that is a personal thing…
  • 1/4 tbsp fenugreek 
  • Half a pint (@500ml) of coconut milk (fresh is best, but if you’re lazy like me Maggi powder comes a close second). In Europe just buy a can.
  • 1 tbsp chili powder or flakes (reduce if you are chili-phobic)
    NOW THESE ARE OPTIONAL
  • More turmeric although I prefer it in the meat not the gravy but both are tasty so add a little.
  • A touch more curry powder (unroasted) – when I say a touch I mean a little
  • Chili powder to taste (can be omitted – see phobia thing above)
  • Fry some onions and a tomato until soft and add to the gravy.

NOW! You can either fry the meatballs first in oil or simply add them to the warm (well – hot) curry sauce and let them boil until done (20 minutes on a slow simmer is fine). Healthier and actually tastier. Too much oil always gives me heartburn so I am a bit biased here.

This is not a blow-your-head-off dish – it’s tasty and you can adjust the spices as you wish. When I was ill a few weeks ago I couldn’t tolerate anything hot (and this is from a girl who used to lap up lunu miris), I like this dish with fresh bread or a good rice like basmati. Do try and explore for yourself – it’s very tasty.

 

Sri Lankan Meatball Curry

Sri Lankan Meatball Curry

The above was made with chicken mince and a bit more chili then recommended above. Just experiment – that’s all the fun!

Happy Vesak.

 

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Filed under Meat recipes, Sri Lankan food & recipes

Why I Love the Off-season in Hikkaduwa

Not one to follow the hordes, always a little different but tourists can be annoying and I rejoice when they all leave.

I can hear you now – this white woman loves our Sri Lanka but she is constantly complaining about our habits and other Governmental inadequacies and unfairness….now this. APO!

This country needs tourism to survive. FACT. The Government is actively promoting tourism on a huge scale. FACT. The problem, however lies in the manner in which they are doing this. I am not going into detail here – This is my personal blog and my journalist hat has been disposed of a while ago. Just two words – Hambantota & fail. Maybe in time but too much borrowed money on non-profitable enterprises is going to hurt the average Sri Lankan in the long run with run-away inflation. Actually we are already seeing this in the dropping exchange rate. I still have no idea how the really poor survive. I hope it is on goodwill from family, friends, neighbours, some friendly tourists and self-grown crops. I have heard stories of families living on one meal a day – rice, dhal and pol sambol – ok you have your carbs in the rice, protein in the dhal, taste in the pol sambol but each day, every day and only once a day?

Anyway back to the point, the season has ended in my home town. The mass influx of tourists have left. The hordes of bikini-clad girls and women and men in board shorts or rather unattractive speedos have gone. There are a few left….mainly Russians who obviously didn’t do their homework on seasons, culture etc. The beach once again is the beauty I fell in love with 10 years ago. Almost empty, no more fully occupied sunbeds and hundreds of people on the beach, bar a few lost tourists looking for a bar that is still open. There are not many as a lot have moved on to Arugam Bay on the East coast for a few months (where the season is just starting) or close up to rejuvenate themselves, their staff and renovate for next season (beach-side properties here take a hell of a battering during the off season with the wet salt wind gusts).

The old and trusted places, however stay open; Top Secret, Spaghetti & Co, Refresh, JLH, the 4 and 5 star hotels for those folks with a bit more cash to spend and a handful of others. The true troopers – the Hikkaduwa regulars. Love them.

This is what what our beach looks like now:

Sunset at Hikkaduwa Beach (courtesy: Christine Keusch)

Sunset at Hikkaduwa Beach (courtesy: Christine Keusch who runs the Lawrence Hill Paradise Ayurveda Hotel)

Peace and quiet for a few months, enjoy! Don’t let it stop you visiting this beautiful area. There is still lots to explore. You can still eat and drink and the weather is generally good from mid-June until September (May, October & November are generally rainy as the seasons change). Bliss. This area without the thousands of tourists will give you a more memorable holiday and more opportunities to mingle with the local people during festivals such as Vesak and Poson.

HAPPY VESAK TO EVERYBODY TOMORROW. BUDU SARANAI.

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Filed under Just stuff, Sri Lankan life, Travel

Tasty Tortilla – when you have run out of ingredients at home.

Firstly I must apologise – my New Years resolution to blog more has been thwarted somewhat initially by work and then being a bit poorly for a while. Good news is I am feeling much better and getting ready to blog more. Some big changes have happened recently (nothing bad…just changes in lifestyle and finances – which I feel will eventually work out for the better).

Most of you will know of my adoration of eggs. Well I was actually going to post a Sri Lankan Egg curry recipe today but my other half always adds ingredients when I’m not looking so I need him to write them down for me.

Eggs are great – in the past they were accused of giving you high cholesterol but a few years of research has disproved this. There are hundreds of links on the web such as this recent one . For more info just Google eggs & cholesterol.

ANYWAY – I found myself at a loss the other day when thinking what to make for dinner – it was 9pm – I had potatoes, eggs and onions and salad ingredients but we were starving and really didn’t want a take-away.

So I did this on a complete whim:

I made the tastiest Spanish Tortilla (bit oily but you can tone this down)….so here goes:

Ingredients for 2:

  • Half a pint of olive or vegetable oil
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 and a half large Bombay onions sliced (kept one half for a small salsa)
  • 3 or 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper

Ingredients for Salsa:

  • Half of the Bombay onion (finely chopped)
  • One large juicy tomato (finely chopped)
  • Lime juice as required
  • Finely chopped green chili or red chili flakes (to taste)
  • Salt & Pepper

And just mix and cool until required.

Method for Tortilla:

  1. Heat all the oil in a medium-size non-stick pan.
  2. Stir in the potato, onion and a some salt (I made sure the oil covered the mixture – diet – me?)
  3. Cover and cook on a very gentle fire until the potatoes are done (about 20 to 30 minutes).
  4. Beat the eggs and add some salt and pepper as per your taste.
  5. Drain the oil out of the pan with the potatoes and onions until there is just enough to fry at a higher heat. (I keep the oil for frying chips or battered prawns later – yummy).
  6. Heat the pan again until it starts sizzling a bit and add the egg mixture.
  7. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes.
  8. Cover the pan with a plate and turn the tortilla. Slide it back into the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes taking care not to burn it.

Serve in wedges with the tomato salsa. A superb dish when you are waiting for your salary to arrive so you can buy expensive food again but actually why should you? 🙂

Spanish Tortilla

Spanish Tortilla

 

Tomato salsa (as spicy as you want!)

Tomato salsa (as spicy as you want!)

So I hope you enjoy my pauper recipe. I have so much up my sleeve about Sri Lanka, why I love it, its people, its food and a multitude of other recipes (plus the occasional moan).

I am also looking for meaty Sri Lankan recipes to try out – not being much of a pork or beef eater here (although I am not vegetarian), if any of you have tips about where to get good beef or pork in Sri Lanka please let me know. Mutton, lamb and wild boar is out – sorry about that folks! 😉

 

 

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