Different countries are known for different meals that they give to the world. From one corner of the planet to the other, there are incredible flavours that the discerning foodie can experience. Each culture cooks their meals in a way that is vastly and sometimes subtly different to the other, making it their own. Sri Lanka offers a traditional dish known as rice n’ curry which is a firm favourite among the majority of tourists that travel to the island nation. If you fell in love with this staple dish of the land and want to be able to make it at home here is a simple guideline to prepare a simplified version of it in your kitchen.
Making the Rice
Wash and clean some Basmati rice (or any rice of your choice) and add equal parts of water to rice. If Basmati, you can add 1 cup of water per 1 cup of rice. Set on stove and add a pinch of salt and a piece of pandan leaf. Cover half the pot and let it boil. Once completely cooked through, you should be able to mash the rice grain between two fingers effortlessly. Take off the stove, stir well and set aside to cool.
The Lentil Curry
Wash lentils or dhal and boil on the stove with water. The colour of lentils is orangish and when boiled through, they will turn into a lovely yellow hue which is your queue to take it off the stove. Next drain all the water and set aside. In a wok fry diced onion, garlic, tomato, a couple of green chilies, a handful of curry leaves, mustard seeds, chili flakes, cumin and some fenugreek seeds. Add the boiled dhal into this and mix well, gently mashing the lentils a bit. Add one and half cups of thick coconut milk followed by roasted powdered curry mix, a piece of cinnamon, salt to taste and also a teaspoon of yellow powder. Lentil curry is one of the most important turmeric powder recipes in Sri Lanka that use the spice for colouring and taste purposes. Bring the curry to boil and reduce heat, letting it simmer until gravy thickens and take off the stove.
Coconut Sambol (Grated Coconut Mix)
You will be able to buy grated coconut from any of the Asian grocery stores in your area. Take as much as you need of the grated coconut and (do not use desiccated coconut) mix in powdered chili about 1 teaspoon, a pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper, half a chopped onion, half a chopped tomato, 1 chopped green chili and lime juice from half a lime. Using a spoon or your hand, mix in well adding more spice if required. Set aside.
Spicy Potato Fry
Boil and peel quartered potatoes and fry them in a bit of oil along with onions, garlic, chili flakes, spring onions and some capsicums. If you want to add some herbs to your meal use some rosemary, basil and oregano in the mix. The herbs are not part of the traditional recipe in Sri Lanka but it does give quite a refreshing kick. Add salt and a bit more chili if you love spicy food and take off the stove when everything looks golden brown. You can also fry a few popped at home and enjoy your simplified homemade Sri Lankan rice n’ curry.