Unlike some other staple Indian breads, which are unleavened and made from durum wheat flour, or atta, fluffy naan is made with all-purpose flour and yeast. Traditionally, the dough is slapped against the chimney wall of a clay tandoor oven and baked over wood fires, however, we can now easily make it on top of the cooker. It tastes best hot and slathered with ghee (clarified butter). I am also quite happy to eat it with normal butter (full fat and salted – none of this tasteless margerine crap). It is, of course, also fabulous with curries.
¾ cup water heated to 115°F/ 46°C
1 tsp. honey
1 (¼-oz.) packet active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour (‘bread powder’ for you Sri Lankans out there 😉 )
½ cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt or curd in Sri Lanka
2 tbsp. oil
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup finely chopped coriander
Melted ghee or butter, for brushing
Stir water and honey in a bowl; add yeast and let it sit until foamy, approximately 10 minutes. Add flour, yogurt, oil, and salt; stir until dough forms. Using your hands, knead the dough in the bowl until smooth, approx. 5 minutes. Cover dough with a damp tea towel; let it sit in a warm place until doubled in size, for about 1 hour.
Transfer the dough to a work surface; divide into 10 balls. Working with 1 ball at a time and using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 7″ (18 cm) circle about ¼” (0.6 cm) thick. Sprinkle with ¼ tsp. coriander; press into dough.
Heat a 12″ non-stick skillet on medium-high. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, cook dough, plain side down, until bubbles appear over the surface, for about 45 seconds. Flip dough; cook until bubbles appear once more, for about 30 seconds. Transfer the naan to a plate and slide the skillet off the heat. Using tongs, cook naan about 2″ (5 cm) over the open flame, flipping once, until browned in spots, for about 1 minute. (Alternatively, finish cooking the naan in a frying pan until browned in spots, for about 1 minute). Return naan to plate, brush with ghee (or butter) and sprinkle with more coriander if desired. Serve hot.
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)
Boil your eggs (5 or 6 minutes max as they will be immersed in the curry sauce afterwards). Then remove, shell and keep.
Fry the garlic, curry leaves, chilies and crushed cardamon in the butter
After about 1 or 2 minutes add the onions and one cup of water for a minute or two on high heat
Then add the chopped tomatoes, chili flakes (omit this if using lots of fresh chili), pepper (to taste), turmeric and some salt.
Leave this mixture to cook for a few minutes more and then add the coconut milk
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:
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.
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:
Heat all the oil in a medium-size non-stick pan.
Stir in the potato, onion and a some salt (I made sure the oil covered the mixture – diet – me?)
Cover and cook on a very gentle fire until the potatoes are done (about 20 to 30 minutes).
Beat the eggs and add some salt and pepper as per your taste.
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).
Heat the pan again until it starts sizzling a bit and add the egg mixture.
Cook for 2 or 3 minutes.
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? 🙂
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! 😉
One of my New Years resolutions is to blog more so expect ramblings and recipes, some Dutch titbits and hopefully some useful information too.
I started the 31st of December very well, healthy dinner and in bed by 10 pm ignoring the party noises from everywhere in town. It went downhill on the 1st of January when I spent a whole day drinking with old and new friends culminating in the mother of all hangovers on the 2nd (and other embarrassing incidents which we will not go into here). Oh well….much fun was had.
Then yesterday, completely sober I broke a toe walking into a concrete table – pain….silly enormous tear-inducing pain for such a small bone so I’m trying to detox but failing somewhat (ibuprofen and beer does numb pain extremely well in case you are wondering).
The answer to a hangover in case you are not the ibuprofen & beer type is a perfect mix of carbs and protein and I have just the thing 🙂
Squidgy Cheesy Healthy Scrambled Eggs on Toast
There is no set ingredients list for this except for fresh slices of bread, eggs and cheese (preferably a medium or mature Cheddar or Gouda – cheeses like Mozzarella or Brie will not work…you need some bite). Not forgetting a lot of butter!
It’s very simple – toast your bread, spread butter on it (no margarine when hungover).
Cook your eggs in a frying pan with tons more butter, salt and pepper (milk is not needed…optional – just cook the eggs for less time if not using and keep stirring with a wooden spoon) and add grated cheese towards the end until you have a gorgeous mix of cheesy eggs and when ready, pile the very cheesy egg mixture onto the toasted bread slices and dig in.. Simplicity but effective.
You can of course become more adventurous and fry onions, tomatoes, chilis and all sorts of other ingredients first before adding the eggs but I couldn’t be bothered on the 2nd. Sometimes I can and add prawns too or tuna and it turns into a baked potato topping for dinner.
Did you know the cucumber originates from Southern Asia, but now grows on most continents? Many different varieties are traded on the global market.
The cucumber (cucumis sativus) is one of the most important market vegetables in the tropics and it is also the basis of an extensive pickling industry. In Sri Lanka, cucumbers are mainly grown in the dry zone (North and East of the country). They are abundant and come in different varieties as you can see in the bottom left-hand side of this market stall:
Cucumbers have not received as much press as other vegetables in terms of health benefits, but this widely-cultivated food provides us with a unique combination of nutrients. At the top of the phytonutrient list for cucumbers are its cucurbitacins, lignans, and flavonoids. These three types of phytonutrients found in cucumbers provide us with valuable antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer benefits.
I know the concept of a cucumber curry sounds weird but trust me it’s delicious. Most varieties of cucumber can be used but I would recommend a variety with few seeds. Most Sri Lankan varieties do not have a lot of seeds so for this recipe I am using the common very pale green cucumber. Kekiri cucumber (aka cooking melon) can also be used.
Peel 2 local cucumbers and seed them. Then slice the cumber into half moons Gently fry the following spices:
1 medium onion chopped
1 green chili seeded and chopped
10-12 curry leaves
1/4 tsp of turmeric
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp of fenugreek seeds
1/2 cup of water
Salt to taste
In a large pan add all the above ingredients and allow to cook on medium-high heat. Cook until the cucumbers become fork tender (but not mushy).
Then blend together:
5 cloves of garlic
2 tbs of raw rice (rinsed)
1 tbs of mustard seed
1/2 cup of coconut milk
Add the garlic/mustard paste and the milk into the cucumber curry. Stir well and allow the curry to cook for another few minutes until all the flavors are combined well.
Feeling hot this weekend? Fancy a refreshing drink with a kick to cool you down? Then I have just the thing.
A cool cucumber cocktail!
This refreshing update on the classic gin & tonic is an easy sipper, thanks to summery cucumber slices and plenty of lime juice. A note on the cucumber slices: it may be tempting to nibble them out of your drink right away, but try to resist the urge. After several minutes’ contact with the lime juice, gin, and sweet tonic water (about as long as it takes to finish the drink) they pickle ever so slightly, taking on a lovely crisp flavor.
Makes 4 drinks:
8 oz gin
8 tbs fresh lime juice (or more depending on your taste)
1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumber (scrubbed but not peeled)
Some thicker cucumber slices and rosemary, for garnish
Fill four glasses halfway with ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine gin, lime juice, cucumber slices, and a small amount of ice. Shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes, and pour into ice-filled glasses, making sure cucumber slices are evenly distributed. Top with tonic water; garnish with a slice of cucumber and a sprig of rosemary.
The recent heavy monsoon rains have turned the bottom of my garden into somewhat of a marshland and this has meant an explosion of gotu kola sprouting up everywhere. Intrigued I started reading up on this herb and wow what a herb it is! In fact it’s so bloody good for you, they sell it in capsules, as tea and concentrated oils in Health food shops worldwide at silly prices. I have an abundance of it so feeling just a little smug, let me tell you a little about it and give you some recipes for the fresh stuff if you can get your hands on it (I’m guessing Asian groceries in bigger cities if you are not lucky enough to find it in your garden – ok enough smugness for now 😉 ).
Gotu kola, also known as Centella Asiatica, is a low growing trailing herb that loves moist areas. It has rounded simple leaves, slender stems and inconspicuous flowers that form in short clusters. It is part of the parsley family native to tropical Asia (specifically Sri Lanka & India where it is grown commercially) and is also found in Hawaii and other tropical regions.
Gotu kola is a rejuvenative nervine recommended for nervous disorders, epilepsy, senility and premature aging. As a brain tonic, it is said to aid intelligence and memory. It strengthens the adrenal glands and cleanses the blood to treat skin impurities. It is said to combat stress and depression, increase libido and improve reflexes. It has also been indicated for chronic venous insufficiency, minor burns, scars, scleroderma, skin ulcers, varicose veins, wound healing, rheumatism, blood diseases, congestive heart failure, urinary tract infections, venereal diseases, hepatitis and high blood pressure.
In India, gotu kola is regarded as perhaps the most spiritual of all herbs. Growing in some areas of the Himalayas, gotu kola is used by yogis to improve meditation. It is said to develop the crown chakra, the energy center at the top of the head and to balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which the leaf is said to resemble. It is regarded as one of the most important rejuvenative herbs in Ayurvedic Medicine. Sri Lankans noticed that elephants, renowned for their longevity, munched on the leaves of the plant. Thus the leaves became known as a promoter of long life. It is said to fortify the immune system, both cleansing and feeding it and to strengthen the adrenals. It has been used as a pure blood tonic and for skin health. It has also been used to promote restful sleep.
It is also mild diuretic that can help shrink swollen membranes, lessen edema and aid in the elimination of excess fluids. It hastens the healing of wounds.
Gotu kola has a positive effect on the circulatory system. It improves the flow of blood while strengthening the veins and capillaries. It has been used successfully to treat phlebitis, leg cramps, and abnormal tingling of the extremities. It soothes and minimizes varicose veins and helps to minimize scarring.
It reduces scarring when applied during inflammatory period of the wound. It was found effective when applied on patients with third degree burns, when the treatment commenced immediately after the accident. Daily local application to the affected area along with intramuscular injections, limited the shrinking of the skin as it healed. It is known to prevent infection and inhibit scar formation. It is also useful in repairing skin and connective tissues and smoothing out cellulite. HEAR THAT LADIES?!?
So, how can we consume this leafy wonder food? Traditionally the dried leaves were prepared as tea.
In Sri Lankan cuisine it is most often prepared as a mallum (මැල්ලුම), a traditional accompaniment to rice and curry, and goes especially well with vegetarian dishes, such as dhal, and jackfruit or pumpkin curry. In addition to finely chopped gotu kola, a mallum almost always contains grated coconut, and may also contain finely chopped green chilies, chili powder, turmeric powder and lime (or lemon) juice.
A very traditional dish is Kola Kenda. This is an ancient Sri Lankan herbal porridge made up of fresh juice of herbal green leaves, coconut milk and red (or white) raw rice.
Recipe for Kola Kenda (with Gotu kola)
Gotu kola leaves loosely packed in a 500ml container.
1 1/2 cup of well cooked rice (prepared from white or red raw rice)
About 1 L of water
7-8 tbsp (heaped) of coconut powder (for convenience, see note (*) below if you wish to use scraped fresh coconut)
1 tsp of salt
Crush the cooked rice with 1 cup of water for 10 second in an electric blender (or pestle and mortar) and put into a sauce pan.
Dissolve the coconut powder in 1/2 cup of water and add to the rice.
Add salt and bring to boil in medium heat.
Blend the gotu kola with 1-2 cups of water in an electric blender and strain the juice well.
Add the juice to the boiling mixture and stir continuously.
Add the rest of the water.
Remove from fire when the kola kenda starts to boil. Leave for few minutes to cool.
Enjoy with a piece of jaggery to counteract the bitterness.
* If you prefer to use fresh scraped coconut skip point 2) above and add the scraped coconut to the gotu kola in point 4) instead.
** Some add pepper, lime (or lemon) juice, finely chopped onion and/or garlic for added taste.
Other leaves used in kola kenda other than gotu kola can include:
Iramusu – Hemidesmus indicus
Mukunuwenna – Alternanthera sessilis
Karapincha – Murraya koenigii
Hatawariya leaves and roots – Asparagus racemosus
Welpenela – Cardiospermum halicacabum
Polpala – Aerva lanata
Ela batu leaves – Solanum melongena
Monarakudumbiya – Vernonia cinerea
Wel thibbatu leaves – Solanum trilobatum
Heen Bowitiya – Osbeckia octandra
Neeramulliya – Asteracantha longifolia
Kohila leaves and stem – Lasia spinosa
Heen Undupiyaliya – Desmodium triflorum
Divul leaves – Limonia acidissima
Even if the initial taste is not to your liking, it grows on you. Try it!
My blogging has become a bit sporadic of late, there are two reasons for this:
I have started a new job which is taking up a lot of my time in training and well…”actual” work 😉
I haven’t been in the greatest of mind sets over the last few weeks, it’s personal so I’m not going to broadcast it all over the web but I’ve taken a few knocks – still onwards and upwards…
Because of these two quite large life events I haven’t been eating as I should (and like t0). Specifically point number 2) has made my appetite disappear to the point where I would be sitting in a restaurant, looking over the menu for 30 minutes, only to order a beer whilst my friend ate copious amounts of food. Not good, especially when I need energy for my new job.
So what on earth can you eat when you are not hungry but you know you have to eat? The answer as most of you will know is soup. It is healthy (if made fresh without additives & MSG). I’ve got a few recipes up my sleeve for soup but I thought I would start with the famous Sri Lankan vegetable soup. It beats the Western varieties for taste and not only does it help bring back an ailing appetite (something to do with the added ginger and pepper I believe) it is also fantastic for colds and flu.
Sri Lankan Vegetable Soup
50g leeks, sliced
50g carrots, sliced
50g green beans, chopped
50g cabbage, shredded roughly
1 or 2 tomatoes, diced
2 small potatoes, cubed
1 or 2 sticks of celery sliced
50g red dhal (mysore)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
1 sprig curry leaves
1 piece of rampe or lemongrass
1 tsp raw curry powder
1 piece cinnamon
1 tbs crushed black pepper (I also like to add a few peppercorns more but it depends on how hot you like it)
1 tbs tamarind paste
8 to 10 cups water
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients except the tamarind paste. (NOTE: you can fry the garlic and ginger first if you like)
Bring to boil over to a medium heat about 1 hour (if you have time…it can be eaten after 30 minutes but I prefer it cooked well)
Add tamarind and adjust salt.
Simmer another 10 min. on low heat.
A blog about freelance translation as a digital nomad, travel, food & drink and all things Sri Lankan and Dutch.