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Sri Lankan mango rice (Maamabala Saatham)

It is mango season and I am gorging on the different varieties. This season I bring you a variety of unique dishes from around the world that use this amazing fruit.

For this dish you can use any juice or pulp mango of choice. I like to use a brightly colored mango for visual effect. If the mango is a bit tart, add a touch of sugar to brighten the fruit, however, you are not making a dessert, but a side dish, so watch the amount of sugar you use.

This is a unique dish that fits with the culure of the Jaffna Tamils in Sri Lanka. The sweet mango coats the rice and is brought alive with the aroma of ghee and the spices and chilies in the temper. I tend to nibble on the tempered chilies while I eat this dish to add that zing of heat that plays beautifully with the sweet notes. This is a traditional recipe from the south of India, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Andhra, down to Sri Lanka.

The Jaffna community is a small community that live on the North of the island and have a distinct culture and cuisine of their own. This was a hard to find cookbook, but it brings to my table a unique cuisine that is delicious. The book is unpretentious, but filled with wonderful, authentic recipes.

For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.


2 cups rice

4-5 cups mango pulp (see note)

Salt, to taste

Sugar (optional)

4 tablespoons ghee

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

2-3 dried red chilies

15-20 curry leaves

Cook the rice in a rice cooker or in a pot. Set aside.

You can use a juice mango for this dish. If you do so, strain the pulp through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of any fibers for a smoother texture. If you use a pulp mango, again use a brightly colored variety and purée to a smooth pulp.

When the rice has cooled mix in with the mango pulp, salt and sugar to a consistency where the rice is very wet but just holds its shape. Only add the sugar if the magoes are very sour. You are looking for light and sweet dish, not a dessert.

Heat the ghee in a small pot and add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, about 10 seconds, add the chilies and the curry leaves. Temper for 30 seconds and pour over the mango rice. Mix the temper in at the table and serve immediately.

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