This thick, creamy curry, made with tender chunks of pumpkin, is enhanced by a burst of flavour from tempered onions, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Tempering is a method used often in Sri Lankan cooking and is a great way to increase the flavours of a curry. The technique involves frying onions, mustard seeds, sometimes fenugreek or cumin seeds, and curry leaves in oil until they are brown, slightly crisp and aromatic. This mixture is added to the curry just before it is served.
Ingredients (serves four to six)
- 750 g (1 lb 10 oz) Jap pumpkin, seeded and cut into 5–6 cm (2–2 1/2 inch) pieces (skin left on)
- 4 small pink Asian shallots, sliced
- 2 thin green chillies, cut into thirds
- 1 sprig curry leaves, leaves picked and roughly chopped
- 8 cm (3 1/4 inch) piece rampe (pandanus) leaf, cut into 2 cm (3/4 inch) pieces
- 1 teaspoon unroasted chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Manike’sthunapaha (or store-bought roasted curry powder)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) coconut milk
- 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) coconut cream
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 2 small pink Asian shallots, sliced
- 1 sprig curry leaves, leaves picked
To make the curry, place the pumpkin into a clay pot or heavy-based saucepan, add the rest of the curry ingredients and mix to combine. There should be just enough coconut milk and cream to cover the pumpkin pieces.
Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10–12 minutes, oruntil the pumpkin is tender, stirring the curry occasionally so the coconut milk does not split.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
For tempering, heat the coconut oil in a small wok or frying pan over medium heat and add the mustard seeds. When the seeds start to pop, add the shallots and curry leaves and cook for three to five minutes, or until the shallots are dark brown and starting to crisp a little. Remove from theheat and strain through a sieve. Stir half of the tempered mixture into the curry and garnish with the remaining mixture. Serve with pol roti and rice.
Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka
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