Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2015 February 24-25: Sarana and Beetroot Curry

In for a penny, in for a pound, as they say. I thought I would try my hand at cooking some authentic Sri Lankan food. It turned out pretty good!

The local tuktuk driver has taken quite a liking to Steve. He thinks he is a 'good man, very very good man' because he speaks Sinhalese so well. So, when I went shopping yesterday he came into the store to help. I picked up an assortment of staples and vegetables, and when he saw me buying Sri Lankan fruit and vegetables instead of Western ones and Sri Lankan fresh herbs, he pointed to a bunch of green leaves and said, "Very good, yes, very good. You will like." So, I bought it. 

It was sarana, otherwise known as water cress, and is eaten as a green here, as I discovered on a quick google search. A favourite way to eat it is to make it into a sauce for fish. I don't eat fish, but I made the sauce anyway and served it as a side dish. Technically it should have Maldive fish paste in it, but, as in many Sri Lankan recipes that call for fish paste, I substituted soy sauce instead to make it vegetarian. Elanor cleaned the leaves and chopped the garlic.

Creamy Sarana Sauce
1 Bunch of sarana leaves, washed
50ml thick coconut milk
Pinch of turmeric powder
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp chopped red onions
1 tbsp chopped garlic
10ml oil
Salt to taste
(Serves 4)

Clean the sarana and set aside. Fry the onions in oil until translucent, then add garlic, turmeric, and soy sauce. Add the sarana, cover, and cook over medium heat until the sarana starts to wilt. Add the coconut milk and stir gently until milk is boiling and leaves are cooked thoroughly. Add salt to taste.

Beets are a wondrous vegetable. You either love 'em or hate 'em. I happen to love 'em. And I LOVE the beetroot curry that is served everywhere here as a side dish. Most Sri Lankans believe that the stem and leaves are poisonous and exclude them from this dish, but others just chop 'em up and add them, too. Always a fan of beet greens, I have gone the semi-non-traditional route here.

Beetroot Curry

3 large beets peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes, with stems and leaves washed and cut into small pieces
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 sprig curry leaves, leaves picked
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp sugar
200 ml coconut milk 

Cook the onion in the oil until translucent. Add curry leaves and garlic and cook until curry leaves release their fragrance. Add remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes until beets are tender.

I also reheated some leftover yellow rice I had made (just add turmeric, a few chili flakes, and some salt to your basmati rice as it cooks), by frying some green onions in oil, adding the rice, and then adding enough coconut milk to make it creamy.

And I 'fixed' my dal that I made a few days ago. It tasted okay then, just being lentils boiled until tender with red chili flakes and curry powder, but it tasted even better with the addition of coriander, mustard seeds, turmeric, curry leaves, salt and coconut milk.

And there you have it - a Sri Lankan feast! Made by my own two hands, with just a little help from Elanor.