The heady, aromatic flavours of Sri Lanka are celebrated in Sydney chef and restaurateur O Tama Carey's Lanka Food: Serendipity & Spice. Here we dip into this flavoursome world.
This cashew curry would be great to serve to vegan friends. Carey says: "I suspect most of us won't have access to fresh cashews, and the big and plump Sri Lankan variety, but make it with what you have. It will still be an excellent dish."
|400g||raw cashews (see note)|
|400g||sliced brown onion|
|25g||garlic, finely chopped|
|20g||ginger, finely chopped|
|1||long green chilli, finely chopped|
|To taste||salt flakes and freshly ground white pepper|
|20g||white curry powder (see recipe below)|
|2 x 5cm pieces||pandan leaf (see note)|
|1–2||limes, juice only|
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- Soak the cashews in a bowl of cold water for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.
- Melt the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat, add the curry leaves and cumin seeds and cook, stirring, for a minute or so until the curry leaves are fried and the seeds are aromatic.
- Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4–6 minutes until the onion begins to soften. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Add the curry powder and turmeric and cook, stirring, for 1–2 minutes until the powder begins to catch on the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in the cashews to coat well, then add the coconut cream, cinnamon, pandan leaf and 280ml water. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 18–20 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and squeeze in a little lime juice just before serving. The curry should be lovely and thick with a bit of pepper heat. Go easy on the lime – it's just there to cut through the richness rather than dominate.
- If you are lucky enough to have access to fresh cashews, you don't need to soak them so skip that step.
- Frozen pandan can be found at Asian grocers
White curry powder
Makes approximately 220g
This simple yet aromatic mix is a good introduction to the world of curries. The spices are untoasted, which makes it quite mild. It is used for white or yellow curries, vegetable curries or anywhere you want spice but no heat. You can also use this fragrant mix to season dishes right at the end, like a tomato salad or perhaps a deep-fried morsel.
6g curry leaves
70g coriander seeds
60g fennel seeds
30g nigella seeds
30g cumin seeds
25g turmeric powder
1. Place the curry leaves in a frying pan over a medium–high heat and cook gently for about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat a little and cook for another 1–2 minutes until they are dry and toasted, but not browned.
2. Allow the leaves to cool completely, then combine them with the remaining spices and grind to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container.
Edited extract from Lanka Food: Serendipity & Spice by O Tama Carey, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $60 NZD, available in stores nationally