Photo credit: Gabriele Stabile, via Cook Mix Mingle
Food in Sri Lanka is unique. They can be very hot or very mild or even a combination of both. Sri Lankan food is unique to our culture.
Most Sri Lankans eat vegetables on a daily basis. Rice and curry is the main food in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan curries are known for their burning hot spicy flavors and coconut milk is a very distinct feature of Sri Lankan cuisine. Different regions of the country specialize in different types of dishes.
The specialty in Sri Lankan food is that the same food is made differently in different regions. Dishes from the North region of Sri Lanka have distinct south Indian flavors. Sinhalese love dishes from Jaffna and Tamils love Sinhalese dishes and Muslim dishes.
Dishes from the South region of Sri Lanka can be spicy, hot or mild. The meals of the southern region of Sri Lanka are known for their variety and the Central part of Sri Lanka too have many unique dishes.
We have selected two dishes, one a Sinhalese dish and the other one a much-loved dish from Jaffna.
Crab Curry – the Sinhalese way…
You will need:
4 Crabs shelled, cleaned and well-washed, cut in half with claws attached, 2 tbsp. Oil, 4 Garlic (crushed), Spring onions, 1 inch Ginger (finely chopped), 3 small Red chilies, 1 tbsp. Oyster sauce 2 tbsp. Light Soya sauce, 1 tbsp. Chopped Coriander leaves, 1 tbsp. Sugar, 1 tbsp. Tomato puree, ½ Chicken stock or water, 2 tsp cup Corn flour & Salt to taste
- In a large pan, heat oil and fry the ginger and garlic
- Add the crabs and cook for 10 minutes, turning it to cook evenly
- Add the sauces, stock, tomato puree and rest of the ingredients and cook for further 5 minutes
- Dissolve the corn flour in a table spoon of cold water and add to the sauce to thicken it
- Finally add the spring onions and coriander leaves
Ever heard of Jaggery beef curry?
This meat dish is a combination of sweet and spicy, the ingredients are common but the unusual addition of jaggery takes its flavours to a whole new level. Perfect with warm, steamed basmati rice or with piping hot butter naan, this dish is for a true food lover.
Jaggery is a known to be a healthy alternative for sugar. It gives out a more refined sweet taste which is ideal when sweetness is mixed with red meats. Good Kithul Jaggery is not too difficult to find and is pretty cost effective.
So how does one make this tasty dish?
You will need:
2 roughly-chopped Onions, crushed Garlic Cloves, 2tsp Coriander powder, 400 ml (14 fl oz) Coconut Milk, 1/2 tsp ground Fennel seeds, 2 tsp ground Cumin seeds, ¼ tsp Ground Cloves, 1.5 kg cubed and forked Steak, 4-6 Small Red / green chillies, 1 tbsp. Lemon juice, 1 white-part-only, bruised, cut-lengthways Lemongrass stem, 3 tsp grated Kithul Jaggery
- Grind chopped onion and crushed garlic in a food processor until smooth, adding a little water for a smooth texture or until the liquid is reduced by half.
- Pour the coconut milk into a large saucepan and bring it to boil. Reduce the heat to low and continue to boil the milk, stirring occasionally to avoid lumps for approximately 15 minutes.
- Add the coriander, fennel, cumin and cloves to the pan and stir for about a minute then add the meat and cook until it changes colour (2 minutes).
- Add the onion mixture, chilli, lemon juice, lemongrass and grated jaggery.
- Cover and slow cook over medium heat for 2 hours, or until the liquid has reduced and the curry is thick, stir frequently to prevent sticking.
- Uncover and cook until thick. Do not let the curry burn. The heat needs to be low throughout the process. Serve hot over a bowl of steamed basmati rice or with warm butter naan.