Tag Archives: Sri Lankan curry

Cucumber Curry and a Cool Cocktail

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:

Vegetable stall in Sri Lanka
Vegetable stall in Sri Lanka

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.

Cucumber Curry

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

Other ingredients:

  • 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.

Cucumber curry
Cucumber Curry

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)
  • Tonic water
  • 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.

Cucumber Cocktail
Cucumber Cocktail

14 Reasons You Should Start Eating Cucumber 

Sri Lankan Brinjal Curry (by request)

Now you must know by now that brinjal (aubergine/eggplant) is one of my favourite vegetables. My friend Carmen requested a recipe for an eggplant curry and I’m only too pleased to oblige 🙂

Sri Lankan Brinjal Curry Recipe

(Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian Cookbook)

Ingredients (to serve 2/3 as a side dish):

  • 1 very large brinjal (or 2 medium sized ones), sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, powdered
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, powdered
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, powdered
  • Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
  • 2 tbsp canola oil or other vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion (or 2 small), thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves (try basil if curry leaves are not available for a different but interesting alternative)
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds, powdered
  • 1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves for garnish


  1. Cover the brinjal slices with salt, pepper and 1 tbsp. of oil, and place on a baking sheet.
  2. Place the baking sheet under the grill and cook for four minutes until the slices are reddish-brown on top. (Grilling them in this way gives you a nice smokey flavour)
  3. Flip over and cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Take slices out of the grill and wipe off excess oil if required (this dish can get oily quickly so keep an eye on this if you aren’t a fan of too much oil)
  5. Cut the brinjal slices into quarters, add the turmeric, lemon juice, and chilli, fennel, coriander and cumin powders and mix well.
  6. Heat the other tbsp. of oil in a saucepan.
  7. Add the onion and fry until lightly brown.Add the or curry leaves and stir for a couple of minutes.
  8. Add the brinjal and cook, stirring, for about five minutes.
  9. Add the coconut milk and warm through. Add the mustard powder and mix well. Add salt if needed.
  10. Turn off the heat. Garnish with coriander leaves.

This tastes wonderful with some hot rotis, but it is also lovely with plain boiled rice.

Sri Lankan Brinjal Curry
Sri Lankan Brinjal Curry

Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry recipe (by request)

Pumpkins are not just for Halloween, they are an extremely healthy vegetable and eaten regularly in Sri Lanka (where they are called Wattakka). Pumpkins are very low in calories (around 20 calories per 100 g). This makes it the perfect food for those watching their weight. They are extremely rich in potassium and have a lot of magnesium and iron as well.

The bright orange fleshy part of a pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene, which is an important antioxidant that helps us fight toxins and free radicals in our bodies.

Whilst buying pumpkins for cooking a curry, choose the ones with a complete stem attached to the top. This usually means that the vegetable is fresh and will store for longer without going off.

Wattakka (Pumpkin)
Wattakka (Pumpkin)

Ingredients for Sri Lankan style Pumpkin (Wattakka) Curry:

  • One large pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons of rice
  • 2 tablespoons of grated coconut (fresh is best but frozen is ok too – ensure you defrost before using)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • Sprig of Curry leaves (optional; 3 or 4 bay leaves are an alternative)
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp curry powder (the normal variety, not the darker roasted one which is more for meat dishes)
  • 1 piece of cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped
  • 1 cup (half pint) of coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp of ground mustard seeds
  • Salt and pepper  to taste


  1. First roast the rice and grated coconut in a pan till golden brown but not burnt. Let it cool.
  2. Stir fry the onions, green chillies, garlic, curry leaves, fenugreek, cinnamon, chili powder, curry powder and turmeric for a few minutes. Add the pumpkin pieces. Stir fry for a couple of minutes. Season with salt. Add a cup of water. Cover and cook for a few minutes.
  3. Now grind the rice, coconut mixture into a powder. Dissolve in coconut milk and add to the pumpkin. Add the ground mustard and cook a couple more minutes. Adjust salt to taste.
  4. Serve hot with rice.
Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry
Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry