From Chef L.B.P. Bandula

How to Make a Curry Feast

Home : Eats By Photo by Chris DeLorenzo
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“Curry” is a versatile but elusive word to define, especially in Sri Lanka. While it generally means a mix of spices that are ground together to flavor food, it can also refer to the leaf of a certain tree, or be used as a verb to describe the cooking of certain dishes. In Sri Lanka, the joke goes that anything can be curried, from goat to pumpkin to cashew nuts.

Sri Lankan cuisine is hotter and uses more coconut than that of its neighbor, India; it also utilizes curry powders that are roasted after they are mixed. A typical Sri Lankan meal usually consists of a pile of rice surrounded by several curries — whatever is in season — often augmented by a spicy sambol or two. It’s always eaten with the hands, which locals will tell you enhances the dining experience, though for the outsider it can take considerable practice.

Chef L.B.P. Bandula, who cooks at Sunshinestories surf camp in Ahangama, gave us these recipes for a Sri Lankan-style curry feast. – Jason Heaton

Dal Curry

Ingredients:
300g red lentils
1/2 brown coconut (or 1/2 can of unsweetened coconut milk + 3/4 cup water)
10 curry leaves
1 cinnamon stick
4 garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons unroasted curry powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 inches of lemongrass

Preparation
1. Wash the lentils in water two times, then cover so that they are 1 inch under water.
2. Chop the garlic and add it together with the spices, curry leaves and lemongrass, and bring to a boil.
3. Grate the coconut. Add 1 1/2 cups of water to the grated coconut. Squeeze the coconut meat in the water with your hands for 2-3 minutes, until the water becomes deep white coconut milk. Strain the coconut milk. (Alternatively, combine 1/2 can of unsweetened coconut milk and 3/4 cup of water.)
4. Add the coconut milk to the red lentils, then boil for another 5 minutes.
5. Garnish with chili powder.

Beetroot Curry

Ingredients:
250g beetroots
1/2 brown coconut (or 1/2 can of unsweetened coconut milk + 3/4 cup water)
10 curry leaves
1 cinnamon stick
4 garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 inches of lemongrass

1. Peel the beetroots and cut them into 1/4 inch slices. Put in a pot and boil with water.
2. Chop the garlic and add it to the boiling beetroot together with all the spices except the coconut.
3. Grate the coconut, add 1 1/2 cup water to the grated coconut, squeeze the coconut meat in the water with your hands 2-3 minutes until the becomes deep white coconut milk. (Alternatively, combine 1/2 can of unsweetened coconut milk and 3/4 cup of water.)
4. Add the coconut milk to the boiling beetroots, boil for another 5 minutes.

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Green Beans

Ingredients:
250g green Beans
1/2 cup sunflower oil
5 garlic cloves
1 red onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper powder
1 cinnamon stick

1. Boil the green beans for 2 minutes, then remove the beans from the boiling water.
2. Chop the garlic and the red onion.
3. Fry the chopped garlic and red onion together with all the spices in a pan for 5 minutes.
4. Add the green beans and fry for another 3 minutes.

Carrot Sambol

Ingredients:
500g carrots
1/2 brown coconut
1 green chili
2 onions
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper powder
2 limes

1. Grate the carrots and the coconut meat.
2. Chop the chili and the onions, then mix together all ingredients in a bowl.
3. Add the juice of the limes, salt and pepper, and mix together.

Red Rice

Ingredients:
200g Red Rice
Salt

1. Rinse in water three times.
2. Add water so that the water level is 1 1/2 inches above the rice.
3. Add 1 teaspoon salt.
4. Boil for about 15 minutes.

Papadam

Ingredients:
8 big papadams
2 cups coconut oil

1. Put 2 cups of coconut oil in a small pot. Heat the oil until really hot, for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the papadams and deep fry them for about 15 seconds one side, then turn them and fry for another 15 seconds on the opposite side.
3. Crush the papadams into smaller pieces, about 4 pieces per papadam.

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A version of this story appears in Issue Two of the Gear Patrol Magazine, 286 pages of stories, reports, interviews and original photography from five distinct locations around the world. Subscribe Now: $35