That was one of the first questions I was asked upon arriving to Sri Lanka. Foolishly, I said yes, and I was promptly handed a warm roll of bread, stuffed with spicy, curried vegetables (called a vegetable bun, a common breakfast staple). It scorched my mouth, much to my surprise, and I was instantly awake, despite landing at 3:00 AM in the morning, and being jostled around a car at sunrise.
My taste buds never rested for the remainder of my trip. Most meals ended with me in a pool of sweat, three or four glasses of water sloshing around inside me, and begging for some delicious, sweet pineapple or watermelon to put my mouth at ease. I wouldn’t trade the pain for anything in the world though. These curries are as delicious as they are spicy, outrageously so.
Note: This recipe is relatively small (about two servings as a main dish), but bear in mind that the most traditional Sri Lankan meals are comprised of up to five different curries at once, along with rice, papadums, and sometimes a small salad.
Sinhalese Dhall Curry (as taught by Karuna)
100 grams (about 1/2 a cup) of lentils, soaked for 30 minutes
1 small onion, sliced or diced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup coconut cream
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp mustard seed powder
1/2 tsp chili powder, more to taste
10 curry leaves
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
In a saute pan, sweat your onions and garlic on medium heat. Add liquids and lentils. Stir in the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Stirring often, cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until sauce thickens, stirring as needed.
Serve with rice. To be especially Sinhalese, eat with your fingers 🙂