I do not cook Sri Lankan recipes often enough, it is one of my favourite cuisines. I love the combination of herbs, lemongrass, pandanus, and a unique blend of spices, that make this cuisine so distinct.
Pandanus leaf, also called screwpine leaf, is a distinctive flavour in Sri Lankan cuisine. The thin leaves add more of an aroma than a strong flavour. It is a mild flavour, one that you miss when absent. It is used in many cuisines in Southeast Asia, including Thai, Malay and Vietnamese. It can be added to curries as in this dish and used as a wrapper, like a banana leaf, for grilled meats. It is not available in the grocery store in India, so I have to grow my own.
This is a wonderful and simple to make curry with the perfect balance of flavours. The curry flashes with sweet and tart from the pineapple to start, but transitions to mild lemongrass and spices on the after palate. Light, beautiful and creamy from the coconut, this is a distinct and delicious curry that deserves seconds or even thirds.
This is an amazing cookbook, so much so that I rarely now go to the other Sri Lankan cookbooks on my shelf. It is a gorgeous cookbook, from which I have cooked at least half the recipes, every one spectacular. I believe what makes this book special is the attention to detail, including recipes for every spice blend, The Roasted curry powder in this recipe, allows this dish to shine.
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
2 tablespoons ghee
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 inch pandanus leaf
1 1/2 piece lemongrass, lightly bruised
10 curry leaves
1 pineapple, cleaned, eyes removed, cored and cubed
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon Maldive fish flakes (optional)
2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup coconut milk
Salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly toasted and crushed coarsely
Thai basil leaves, to garnish
Cooked jasmine rice, to serve
Heat the ghee in a pot and add the onion, pandanus leaf, lemongrass, curry leaves, and sauté for 3-5 minutes on low heat until the onion is translucent and soft. Do not allow the onion to take on any colour.
Add all the rest of the ingredients, except for the fennel, and mix in well. Simmer on a very low heat for 5 minutes. Add the fennel and cook for 1 more minute. Taste for salt and spice.
Ladle the curry onto a shallow bowl. Add the whole cube of tofu to the middle of the curry. Garnish with whole Thai basil leaves. Serve with jasmine rice on the side.