I believe if you want to deepen your culinary experience in a country, go for a cooking class. Getting your hands dirty in a local kitchen is the best way to discover the nuances and details of a country’s taste. Quite fortunately, Srilanka offers a lot of cooking classes. Also, most of them are quite authentic, as they take you in their real home or restaurant kitchens to show you what goes in making that delicious plate of curry & rice.

I took 2 cooking classes during my trip to Srilanka. I managed to gather some spicy secrets about Srilankan cooking, like the authentic recipe of Srilankan Curry powder, preparing coconut milk for curries and some key ingredients for Srilankan cooking. You can read more about this in my recent post Secrets from my Srilankan cooking class. This post will also help you learn some Srilankan cooking basics that you will need to follow for the curry recipes I am sharing here. So let’s learn about some great curry cooking.

Srilanka is a true curry paradise and I made sure to collect my favorite vegetarian curry recipes to relish them back home. Here I am sharing with you 5 authentic Srilankan vegetarian curry recipes:

  1. Potato curry
  2. Pumpkin curry
  3. Tomato curry
  4. Dhal curry
  5. Garlic curry

But let’s start with the recipe of the Srilankan curry powder, as you are going to use it for all the curry recipes. Srilankan curry powder is of 2 types – Roasted and Unroasted. For veg curries we will use the unroasted curry powder, except for the Garlic curry.

Recipe for Srilankan curry powder

Ingredients

  • 4 table spoons Coriander seeds
  • 2 table spoons Cumin seeds
  • 1 table spoons Fennel seeds
  • 4 pods Cardamom
  • 4 Cloves
  • 1 piece (3 cm) Cinnamon
  • 12 Curry leaves (dry)
  • 4 pieces (4 cm) Pandan leaves

For preparing unroasted curry powder, grind all the 8 dry ingredients until fine powder form.

For roasted curry powder, roast the ingredients. You must roast the first 5 dry spices each separately and the last 3 spices all together. Roast on a dry pan on medium to low heat, stirring regularly, until color slightly changes. Now let the spices cool down and then grind all roasted ingredients until fine powder form.

Now let me finally reveal the 5 curry recipes to you!

Recipe for Srilankan Potato Curry

Potato curry is a household and one of the humblest Srilankan curries. It’s often cooked as a dry potato stir fry to be served as a side dish. The curry version is also a favorite, served with rice as a main course. I am sharing the curry version of potatoes here.

Srilankan Potato Curry
Srilankan Potato Curry

Ingredients

  • 6-7 potatoes
  • ½ red onion, chopped long
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ green chili, slit from between
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 6-8 pieces pandan leaves (about 4 cms each)
  • 1 piece cinnamon
  • 1 ½  tea spoon salt
  • 1 ½  tea spoon unroasted curry powder
  • ½ tea spoon turmeric powder
  • ½ tea spoon fenugreek seeds (roasted)
  • 1 cup thin coconut milk
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • Lime (few drops only)

Instructions

  • Boil potatoes partially (by using a pressure cook or steaming in a vessel filled with hot water)
  • Peel potatoes and cut into cubes
  • In a deep pan, place potatoes at the bottom.
  • On top add onion, garlic, green chilli, curry leaves, pandan leaves, cinnamon, salt, curry powder, turmeric, fenugreek seeds.
  • Pour thin coconut milk in the pan and start cooking on medium to high heat.
  • Bring to boil and continue cooking on medium heat for few minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Now add thick coconut milk and keep stirring until boils again.
  • Once it is fully boiled turn off the heat and add few drops of lime.

Recipe for Srilankan Pumpkin Curry

Local Srilankans highly believe in fresh cooking. Mostly in restaurants if you ask for a veg curry menu, what you will get may depend on what vegetable they found fresh at the market that day. For the seasonal fresh veg curries, pumpkin curry is a favorite. Try out the recipe to see how the spicy Srilankan flavors work on the sweetish pumpkin.

Srilankan Pumpkin Curry
Srilankan Pumpkin Curry

Ingredients

  • 25-30 pumpkin cubes
  • ½ red onion, chopped long
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped long
  • ½ green chili, slit from between
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 6-8 pieces pandan leaves (about 4 cms each)
  • ½ tea spoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 tea spoon cumin powder
  • 1 ½  tea spoon salt
  • 1 ½  tea spoon unroasted curry powder
  • ½ tea spoon mustard seeds powder
  • 1 cup thin coconut milk
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • ¼ tea spoon sugar

Instructions

  • In a deep pan, place pumpkin squares at the bottom.
  • On top add onion, garlic, green chilli, curry leaves, pandan leaves, cinnamon, salt, curry powder, cumin powder, mustard seeds powder and sugar.
  • Pour thin coconut milk in the pan and start cooking on medium to high heat.
  • Bring to boil and continue cooking on medium/ low heat for 15-20 minutes until the pumpkin is soft. Stir occasionally.
  • Now add thick coconut milk and keep stirring until boils again.
  • Once it is fully boiled turn off the heat.
  • Add few drops of lime (optional).

Recipe for Srilankan Tomato Curry

Tomato curry is a unique one. Normally we use this juicy red veggie to create gravies, but in this recipe it is the main subject. Check out the sweet & sour recipe for this Srilankan favorite!

Srilankan tomato curry
Srilankan tomato curry

Ingredients

  • 4-5 tomatoes, each chopped into 5-6 long pieces
  • 1 red onion, chopped long
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped long
  • ½ green chili, slit from between
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 6-8 pieces pandan leaves (about 4 cms each)
  • ¼ tea spoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 tea spoon cumin powder
  • 1 ½  tea spoon salt
  • 1 ½  tea spoon unroasted curry powder
  • ½ tea spoon mustard seeds powder
  • ½ cup thin coconut milk
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • ½ tea spoon sugar

Instructions

  • In a saucepan, place tomatoes at the bottom.
  • On top add onion, garlic, green chili, curry leaves, pandan leaves, cinnamon, salt, curry powder, cumin powder, mustard seeds powder and sugar.
  • Pour thin coconut milk in the pan and start cooking on medium to high heat.
  • Bring to boil and continue cooking on medium/ low heat for 15-20 minutes until the pumpkin is soft. Stir occasionally.
  • Now add thick coconut milk and keep stirring until boils again and thickens a bit.
  • Once it is fully boiled turn off the heat.

Recipe for Srilankan Dhal Curry

Dhal curry is more like an essential on the Srilankan rice and curry platter. This can be served as a sole partner to rice or along with an array of curries.

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups orange lentils
  • 1 red onion, chopped long
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ green chili, slit from between
  • 24 curry leaves
  • 12 pieces pandan leaves (about 4 cms each)
  • 2 tea spoon salt
  • 4 tea spoon unroasted curry powder
  • 1 tea spoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tea spoon red chili powder
  • ¼ tea spoon chili flakes
  • ¼ tea spoon black mustard seeds
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1 cup thin coconut milk
  • 8 table spoon oil (preferably coconut oil)

Instructions

  • Wash the lentils and drain the water at least 4-5 times.
  • Add lentils in a deep saucepan.
  • On top add ½ onion, garlic, green chili, 12 curry leaves, 6 pandan leaves, salt, curry powder, turmeric and red chili powder.
  • Also pour water in the pan and start cooking on medium heat.
  • Cook until the top water layer (above the level of lentils) disappears.
  • Now add thin coconut milk and stir a little bit.
  • Cook about 5 mins more and then turn off the heat. We are not done yet.
  • In a separate pan, add oil and smoke it on high to medium flame.
  • Immediately, add ½ onion, remaining curry & pandan leaves, mustard seeds and chili flakes.
  • Fry until onions turn into golden brown color.
  • Add the fried ingredients to the lentils and stir well.

Recipe for Srilankan Garlic Curry

Garlic curry is a more premium Srilankan offering. You may not find this being served in restaurants as it involves a lot of effort in peeling the garlic cloves. Also it turns out to be an expensive recipe as compared to other curries. I was told it is often prepared in weddings to signify the special occasion.

Srilankan Garlic Curry
Srilankan Garlic Curry

Ingredients

  • 120 cloves garlic
  • ½ red onion, chopped long
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 green chili, slit from between
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 6-8 pieces pandan leaves (about 4 cms each)
  • ¼ piece cinnamon
  • 3 table spoon coconut oil (or sunflower oil)
  • 1 tea spoon salt
  • ¼ tea spoon red chili powder
  • 4 tea spoon roasted curry powder
  • ¼ tea spoon turmeric powder
  • 2 cups thin coconut milk

Instructions

  • Start by separating the garlic clusters into garlic cloves
  • To peel the garlic, cut both ends of each garlic clove, cut it into half and easily peel the crispy skin off.
  • Place all the peeled garlic cloves in a big bowl. Add salt and turmeric. Mix well keep aside.
  • Place a saucepan on high or medium heat, add oil and allow it to smoke slightly.
  • Now add onion, green chili, curry leaves, pandan leaves and cinnamon all together and fry until onions turn into golden brown color.
  • Turn the heat to medium and add the garlic and stir.
  • Add red chili powder, roasted curry powder and coconut milk.
  • Cover and cook for around 20 – 30 mins until the curry becomes very creamy and thick.
  • Make sure to stir every 5 mins during this time. Reduce the flame to low if needed.

Enjoy the local flavors of the Srilankan food! Do write back to tell which one you liked the most.

shikha
Author

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