Saturday, March 14, 2015

2015 March 8 and 14: Dambala

Last Sunday, the three of us went to our favourite Sunday Sri Lankan restaurant with our friend Mario. He first introduced us to the restaurant on our first Sunday at church here. He eats there most Sundays, and when Steve asked if the food was good there, his reply was "It's good enough" with a modest tilt of his head.

Boy, was he right! And also wrong.... This little place serves some of the best Sri Lankan food we have eaten anywhere in the past month. Usually we show up and the three ladies who own the place just start bringing us food. Everything is always delicious, and we always leave feeling satisfied with a wonderful meal and for a very modest price. Last time, for example, all-you-can-eat for four people was 705 rupees ($5.38).

One of the dishes that we were served last Sunday was called dambala. Dambala are an absolutely wonderful kind of green bean. It looks like it has four frilly wings, hence the English name 'winged bean'. I first encountered this strange looking vegetable in the grocery store, but having no idea what it was called, did not buy any. Now that I knew what they were, I bought some, and tonight we had homemade winged beans for supper. They tasted just like at the restaurant, just not as spicy.

You can probably use green beans in this recipe, but I would use a French cut bean rather than short cuts - that way, you will get some of the crispy texture that occurs because of the thin wings on the cut winged beans.

Dambala

8 winged beans chopped into 1/2 inch pieces - makes about 4 cups
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 curry leaves if you have them
1/2 tsp of red chili flakes - use up to 1 1/2 tsps if you like it spicy!
salt to taste
2 tbsps cooking oil
a little water

Cook the onion and garlic in the oil until translucent. Add the chopped winged beans and curry leaves, stir, cover, and let cook. If the onion or garlic start to get too cooked, add a little water and replace the lid. Stir occasionally. When the beans are almost cooked, add the red chili flakes. Do not replace the lid. Stir until water is evaporated, then add salt to taste and remove from heat. You want the very edges of the beans to be slightly crispy, and the thicker parts to be al dente.