Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets with coriander

If you don’t have curry leaves, you can use fresh coriander in Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets.  The other day, I  I made the fish cakes with coriander, instead of curry leaves, and lemon instead of lime juice. I also add about a tbsp of desiccated coconut. It worked great!

Sri Lankan fish cutlets

Sri Lankan-style chickpeas for Lisa

I’ve created this dish especially for a blogging event run by a one of my favourite bloggers, Lisa from Lisa’s Kitchen. The event is No Croutons Required, and the this month’s topic is chickpeas. I really wanted to take part, partly because I haven’t in ages, and partly because I really love chickpeas myself. After a bit of thought, I decided to adapt one of my favourite veggie Sri Lankan recipe, varar, adding caramelised shallots, coriander and lemon juice. The result is a gorgeous warm salad of chickpeas flavoured with caramelised shallots, curry leaves, coconut and lemon juice that goes great with many Indian and Sri Lankan dishes, and it’s also delicious on its own as a snack. I love it. I hope Lisa will like it, too.

A note on chickpeas. I really notice a difference in flavour between tinned and dried chickpeas, and for me, this is one instance when it’s worth taking the time to soak and cook the chickpeas. They’re so much nicer like that! I can even eat them as popcorns after they’ve just been cooked – they really are delicious. But if you really really can’t be bothered, then next time you’re in your favourite Asian supermarket, pick up a tin of East End brand of chickpeas. They’re the tastiest ones I’ve found. Still, for hummus and falafel, I’d soak and cook my own chickpeas.

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Sri-Lankan-style chickpeas

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Sri-Lankan-style chickpeas salad

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SOURCE:  Inspired by Jasmine’s varar

PREPARATION TIME: 2 min, if the chickpeas are ready

COOKING TIME: 5 – 10 min, again, if you’re not soaking your own chickpeas

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 1 as a salad, 2 as a small side dish

 

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INGREDIENTS:

a little vegetable oil

2 medium shallots, halved and then sliced thinly

1 green finger chilli 

a small handful of (preferably fresh) curry leaves

a little salt

1 tsp tempering spices (a mixture of brown/black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds – see Sri Lankan spices for recipe)

a pinch of turmeric

1 cup of chickpeas (cooked, or tinned)

a handful of desiccated  coconut

fresh lime juice to taste

1 heaped tsp chopped coriander leaves

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METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a wok (or frying pan) and add the shallots and the chili. When the shallots start going brown, throw in the curry leaves and a little salt. Stir and cook until the shallots are completely caramelised. Then, remove half of the mixture and set aside. (This will be sprinkled on top when the dish is done).
  • Return the pan to the heat, and add the tempering spices and turmeric. Stir.
  • Add the chickpeas to the pan, and a couple of tbs of water (or chickpeas soaking water), and warm the chickpeas through. Then in goes the coconut and a pinch of salt. Stir it and cook for 30 s, again until it’s warmed through.
  • Just before serving, add lemon or lime juice, chopped coriander and some more salt if needed. Sprinkle with the remaining shallots and serve. Enjoy!

 

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More Sri Lankan food at Maninas:

 

The aroma of curry leaves: Sri Lankan cooking (Introduction)

Sri Lankan spices (including recipes for Sri Lankan garam masala, curry powder and more!)

Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and leek with coconut (V)

Sri Lankan coconut dhal (V)

Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry (V)

Sri Lankan Fish Curry (Meen Kulambu)

Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets

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And more chickpeas recipes:

My version of Catalan chick peas with tomatoes and almonds (V) – This is a must-try, with its delicious flavours of saffron, garlic, tomatoes, almonds and coriander!

My Moroccan-inspired chickpeas  (V)

Chana Masala (V) for RCI Punjab

Chana masala from scratch (V) – No shop bought spice mixes!

 

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MLLA21Logo

I’m also submitting this post to to MLLA-21 hosted by Mirch Masala, and started by Susan, The Well Seasoned Cook.

Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets (the recipe)

Here is the recipe for Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets that I promised earlier.

I love these delicious fish cakes, or fish cutlets. This is the best way to use the humble tinned tuna, I promise! Serve them as snacks, or perhaps in sandwiches. I had them with thin slices of raw red onion, and it worked just great, though I must admit I usually really don’t like raw onion.

UPDATE 22 May 2010: I made the fish cakes with coriander, instead of curry leaves, and lemon instead of lime juice. I also add about a tbsp of dessicated coconut. It worked great!

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Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets

 

SOURCE:  Jasmine

PREPARATION TIME: about 15 min

COOKING TIME: 30 min

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 3 – 4 (makes about 14 – 15 6 cm wide fishcakes) 

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium potatoes, cubed

2 tins of tuna

½ medium red onion, chopped finely

2 – 3 green chillies, chopped finely, deseeded if you wish

A few springs of curry leaves, shredded (I used 4, but I like curry leaves a lot)

½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground (or coarsely ground cumin and black pepper mixture)

½ tsp or more Sri Lankan chili powder

2 tbsp breadcrumbs, plus extra for coating

Lime juice to taste (start with ½ lime, and add more if you want)

Salt

2 medium eggs, beaten (or one large, with a little bit of water stirred in)

Oil for deep frying

  

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METHOD:

1.      Boil the potatoes until soft. When they’re done, drain the potatoes and leave to cool in the sieve. You want the water from the potatoes to evaporate, so do leave them for long enough.

2.      In the meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients except for the salt and lime juice, and mix them in a bowl. When the potatoes have cooled down, mash them and add to the mixture in the bowl. Add the lime juice and salt to taste.

3.      Time to shape the cutlets! Take about a golf-ball sized amount of mixture and roll it into a ball. Next, flatten the ball, dip into the egg, and then into bread crumbs. Do all the cutlets in this way.

4.      Pour oil into a deep pan, or a wok (which is what I used, and what Jasmine uses), and put on medium high. You’ll need enough oil for deep frying, a few centimeters, I’d say. The oil is hot enough when it sizzles when you insert a wooden spoon inside.

5.      Fry the cutlets for a few min on each side, until they’re heated through and the coating is cooked. Enjoy!

 

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More Sri Lankan Food at Maninas:

 The aroma of curry leaves: Sri Lankan cooking (Introduction)

Sri Lankan spices (including recipes for Sri Lankan garam masala, curry powder and more!)

Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and leek with coconut (V)

Sri Lankan coconut dhal (V)

Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry (V)

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      This is my entry for this week’s WHB, hosted by Susan from

      The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Coconut Lamb Curry

Here is a really special Indian dish that I wanted to share with you in a long time. I’m sharing it now, to celebrate my return! It’s like a kind of Indian-style rendang: moist morsels of lamb coated in thick meaty sauce and coconut. It is deeeelicious! So flavoursome, and such fun to eat. I love the lamb pieces wrapped in roti, or with some other nice bread. In any case, you’ve got to eat this with your hands!

This curry is based on a recipe by Anjum Anand from her Indian Food Made Easy BBC series. I changed (upped) the spicing to suit my tastes, and added a South-Indian touch with curry leaves, dried red chillies and mustard seeds. Basically, the lamb is cooked with spices until the meat is tender, and the sauce is well reduced. Then, you sprinkle toasted grated coconut in (fresh or desiccated), and coat the lamb. Yes, it takes time to cook it, but it requires little attention, and it’s really worth it. The first time I made it, I totally forgot about it and spent 2 hours on the phone to a friend, but miraculously, it didn’t burn, and it didn’t harm it all. Next time I was more careful, but it was equally good.

Our camera issues haven’t been resolved yet, so no pics this time, sorry. We’re in a long and slow process of choosing a new camera. Possibly, hopefully, a DSLR!

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Coconut Lamb Curry

 

SOURCE:  Based on a recipe from Anjum Anad’s Indian Food Made Easy

PREPARATION TIME: about 5 min

COOKING TIME: about 2 h 40 min

CUISINE: Indian

SERVES: 4 as a side dish, or 2 – 3 as a main

 

INGREDIENTS:

50 g desiccated coconut

2 tbsp ghee

3 dried red chillies

2 – 3 sprigs of fresh curry leaves

a pinch of black mustard seeds

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cm ginger, grated

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/3 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes

salt to taste

500 g boneless lamb, diced

200 g water

1/2 tsp garam masala

 

METHOD:

I. Toast the desiccated coconut in a non-stick pan until a little past golden, and set a side. This will take a minute or two, so watch it!

II. 1. Heat the oil in a wide pan (I love to use my wide and shallow Le Creuset pan, but any thick-bottomed pan will do, with good non-stick properties if possible.). You’ll know it’s hot enough when you put a spoon in it and it starts sizzling. Then add the dried chilies, mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, put the lid on. When they stop, add the onions and cook them until they start going golden. Next, add the ginger and garlic, and then cook the mixture until onions are well browned.

2. Now add the chilli powder and turmeric. Stir, and add the tomatoes and salt. Cook this until the oil starts oozing out, separating from the tomato and onion mixture, glossy and beautiful.

3. Now you’re ready to add the meat. Brown the meat in the pan with the onion mixture for a few minutes, add water, and bring to boil. Then cover and simmer on a low heat for about 50 min, or until the lamb is tender. I love to cook it even longer, until it’s melt-in-the-mouth soft. Check the lamb occasionally and add more water if it starts sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the lamb is done, uncover and continue cooking, stirring often, until any excess water has evaporated.

4. When there is only a bit of liquid left coating the lamb, sprinkle in the garam masala, check the seasoning, and then stir in the coconut. Serve with roti or some other nice bread, with a few veg side dishes if you want. Enjoy every morsel! And let me know how you got on.

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The aroma of curry leaves. Sri Lankan cooking

Wherever I am, the aroma of curry leaves cooking will take me to Jasmine’s kitchen. Outside, one of those sultry and wet English November dusks; inside, a warm kitchen fragrant with spices. We chop and chatter, stir and laugh. I suspect that half the time I’m in the way and only slowing her down, but she graciously lets me learn by doing it myself. And I’m grateful to her for that.

Jasmine is a formidable cook, with English, Italian, Chinese and many other dishes in her repertoire, but tonight she is introducing me to the flavours of her homeland, Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka (‘sacred island’ in Sanskrit) is an island nation situated in the Indian Ocean, to the southwest of the coast of India. Its cooking has been compared to that of South India, but to me it has a very distinct character of its own. Rice is the staple in both cuisines, and coconut, cashews and bananas (some of Sri Lanka’s main crops) are used extensively. Curry leaves feature prominently in both South Indian and Sri Lankan cooking, but Sri Lankans also make use of pandan leaves (Jasmine calls it ‘rampa’) and lemon grass (‘sera’).

Jasmine, my kind host and teacher, tells me her cooking combines the Northern, Tamil cooking and the bold spices of the West of Sri Lanka. Her food is fragrant, full of bold flavours, mouth-watering. Three flavour trinities, as Jasmine calls them, describe it best. The first is lime, green chillies and of course the curry leaves. Their haunting, addictive aroma permeates almost all the dishes. I had them before, and cooked with them, and loved them, but nothing comes close to this. I will always remember them and associate them with Jasmine’s cooking. Lime is also used extensively, and is usually added at the end, after the dish is finished cooking.

Jasmine’s other flavour trinity is Sri Lankan garam masala, Sri Lankan roasted curry powder and Sri Lankan chilli powder. Sri Lankan garam masala is very different from what I know as Indian garam masalas. Firstly, it is not roasted; cinnamon, cardamom and cloves are simply ground together raw, and the flavours of cloves and cardamom are dominant. Sri Lankan curry powder is roasted, and not ‘raw’. The spices are roasted and then ground, which gives them a nutty flavour. The curry powder is often added to the dishes at the final stages of cooking, to perk up the flavours. There are numerous versions of the recipe, and it’s usually homemade. Sri Lankan chilli powder, on the other hand, is often shop-bought. It is a mixture of spices, rather than a single spice. All three are spice mixtures are deliciously captivating.

The third flavour trinity is garlic, ginger and pandan leaf (or ‘rampa’).

That first night, Jasmine served us an exquisite meat feast:

The second day, we were treated to a fish feast of:

Both dinners were simply superb. Suffice to say that since then, I have made many of the above dishes in my own kitchen. One day, they will all find their way to this blog!

With this, I would like to than Jasmine for her warm generosity, and for putting up with me in the kitchen!

Curry leaves      (PHOTO: Sonja Pauen – Stanhopea @ Wikipedia Commons)

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INFO: Curry leaves

  

‘The Curry Tree or Karivepallai or Kadipatta or Sweet Neem leaf.(Murraya koenigii; syn. Bergera koenigii, Chalcas koenigii) is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae, which is native to India.’ (WIKIPEDIA) Its aromatic leaves are used as a herb in South Indian and Sri Lankan cooking.

For more information, please see Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages.

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My other posts and recipes on Sri Lankan cooking:

Sri Lankan spices (including recipes for Sri Lankan garam masala, curry powder and more!)

Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and leek with coconut (V)

Sri Lankan coconut dhal  (V)

Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry (V)

Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets

Sri Lankan Fish Curry (Meen kulambu)

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