Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sri Lankan White Curry

Yet another South-Asian vegetable dish. This one is a keeper not only because it's crazy delicious but because it involves a flavor which I don't normally associate with coconut milk curries. The secret ingredient? A bit of fish! The recipe calls for Maldive fish which is "small dried chunks of tuna that are crumbled or shredded and added to many dishes." The authors of the cookbook state that this product can be found in Sri Lankan grocery stores. Terrific, if you have access to a Sri Lankan grocer. Thankfully, they include a substitute, bonito, which is MUCH more widely available. Bonito is a Japanese food ingredient and it is the dried, shredded flesh of a fish in the tuna (or mackerel, I can't seem to find a definitive answer) family. It releases a wonderfully smoky aroma when added to whatever you are cooking and is a basic building block of dashi, the staple Japanese stock. Bonito can be found in any well-stocked Asian grocer or Japanese grocer. Go find's really great stuff.

Anyhow, this dish is GREAT. Phenomenally cheap, REALLY, REALLY delicious and super easy to cook, it is something I encourage ALL of you to try. A definite A++++++ for this recipe. And, click this if you don't know anything about Sri Lanka. C'mon, click least do it so you can figure out where Sri Lanka is on a map!

Oh, and yes, I do realize that "white curry" is somewhat inaccurate...the dish, as you might have noticed has a definite jaundiced hue. "White curry" in Sri Lankan cuisine refers to the presence of coconut milk. There is your fun fact for the day.


1 pound waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes (Waxy potatoes refer to the white-skinned or red skinned potatoes...Russet baking potatoes would NOT be good.)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (maybe an equal amount of curry powder if you can't find fenugreek)
1 teaspoon Maldive fish or substitute bonito flakes, finely ground (I used my spice grinder to pulverize the well.)
1/3 cup chopped shallots
2 green chiles, thinly sliced
8-10 curry leaves (no real substitute, omit if you can't find them)
1 teaspoon salt (I used considerably more)
1.5 cups water
1/2 cup canned or fresh coconut milk
1 teaspoon lime juice (use more if you like lime...I added extra because I liked the extra bit of zip)

In a large pot, combine the potatoes, turmeric, fenugreek seeds, Maldive fish or bonito, chopped shallots, chiles, curry leaves and salt. Pour in the water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender. (Took me about 20 minutes)

Stir in the coconut milk, bring back to a gentle boil. Remove from heat, stir in lime juice. Serve.

See how easy that was? Just dump a bunch of stuff into a pot and cook it. Pretty much dummy proof.

Time- 10 minutes of prep, 25 minutes of inactive cooking time.

Food cost- Too cheap to cost out. The most expensive thing in this recipe might be the $0.89 can of coconut milk.

LOLCat...another classic...there are tons of derivatives based on ceiling cat:


deedoubleyew said...

white curry in the sri lankan context actually means that it does not contain any "chile powder" (cayenne powder) or "curry powder" (ground dry spice mix) opposed to red curry which contains a lot of chile powder and black curry which contains dark roasted curry powder.

Mike Czyzewski said...

Thanks for the heads up and it looks like I need better books!

Do red curry and black curry both contain coconut milk?