When the themes for the Blogging Marathon #84 were declared, I didn’t think twice about the second theme to choose. It had to be “Sinhalese Cuisine”. There was a little confusion when I started with it. We know Sri Lanka as a country, but a little digging indicated that Sinhalese are the largest portion of people in Sri Lanka, and they are Buddhist. Their food reigns majority in the country. There are then the Tamils and the Muslims who have slightly varied ways of cooking. Sounds similar to how it is in Kerala too!
So having cleared up the confusion of what cuisine I can look for, I ended up getting so confused with what I should be trying. Somehow the first to catch my attention was their chicken curry and I had to make it. Though the curry feels so much like our style, it is different in its own way. Also, there is a wide variety of spices used in this curry. You wouldn’t believe how many recipes I read through for this curry. Almost 5-6 pages of whatever Google threw up on me. 😉 Just as I had expected, every person had recipes with their own variations. Reading through all, I came to the below conclusion:
- Cinnamon and cardamom must be there in the tempering stage for the curry.
- Coconut milk is a must to add.
- Spices use can vary from person to person.
- Pandan leaf is used for flavoring, which I skipped since I couldn’t get a small quantity.
Many recipes used Sri Lankan curry powder or even Madras curry powder. Even though I had the latter in my pantry, I wouldn’t use it since I really wanted to use all spices. 😉 So I went by what was majorly used in most of the recipes and included it. There was only one post which indicated use of a roasted coconut paste – it was a travalogue and was more of a vivid explanation of how the grandmother in picture had made the curry. The roasted coconut paste was really so tempting that even though I couldn’t find it any other post, I still went ahead and made it. I was so glad I did! It was super exercise for my biceps (ahem! 😉 ) but it was totally worth it.
Some recipes used tamarind pulp but I have skipped it. I guess it would include a nice tangy angle to this curry. All in all it was a super tasting gravy. I slow cooked it in a chatti (earthern pot) and what better way to cook it! I wouldn’t say this is an authentic version, but I am sure I would love to try it from somewhere to know how the real thing tastes like. Since the taste was so close to our own preparation, it was a hit with the family. We enjoyed it with some ghee rice in the afternoon, and mopped up the remaining gravy with some bread at night. Just like any coconut based curry, as it sits the curry thickens, so add more warm water for gravy. This is an amazing curry, which deserves a try! Off to the recipe…
- 1 kg chicken, cut into small pieces (I used drumsticks)
- ¼ cup coconut, roasted till golden brown
- ½ cup coconut
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 4 bruised cardamom pods
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 1 heaped tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 pandan leaf (optional but recommended, didn't use)
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- ½ tsp fennel powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- Salt to taste
- ¼ tsp garam masala powder (optional)
- Wash the chicken and set aside to drain.
- Mash the roasted coconut using your mortar and pestle till it becomes pasty and releases oil. The process is a little hand exercise but worth it!
- Grind the other coconut with ½ cup of water, extract the thick coconut milk and set aside. Add ½ cup more water and grind. Extract the second coconut milk and set aside.
- Heat oil in a chatti (earthern pot - recommended). Fry the cardamom and cinnamon briefly.
- Fry the ginger garlic paste and curry leaves till it releases a nice aroma.
- Add the onions and fry till it is golden brown.
- Add in the powders and saute till roasted.
- Add in the chicken along with some salt and toss.
- Add in the tomatoes and roasted coconut paste and cook for five minutes.
- Add the second coconut milk along with water as required and cook the curry till the chicken come off the bone. Stir in between to avoid the curry sticking to the bottom.
- Once the chicken is done, add the first coconut milk and garam masala, if using and immediately switch off. Allow the curry to rest for flavors to develop.
- Serve with your choice of side.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page to see what the other Blogging Marathoners are doing this BM#84