Sri Lankan String Hoppers, Sothi (Yellow Coconut Curry), Masala Fried Egg and Spicy Prawn Fritters

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I know, it looks like there is a lot on the plate. But believe me, this is quite a light meal. Perfect for dinner actually. This dish is a culinary specialty in Sri Lanka. Oddly though, in Sri Lanka, String Hoppers or Idiyappam is even served for breakfast.

The original string hoppers are made from plain rice flour. And over time, this was also introduced with wheat flour for a healthier option which produces a brown hue. More and more people are opting for the latter for health reasons, compromising the divine taste of the original white rice deliciousness. In Malaysia, the string hoppers are called putu mayam and has become somewhat a local delight eaten with grated coconut in brown sugar – something like a desert. This way of eating with sugar is an influence from the Kerala-Indians.

I really don’t want to bore you too much on the origins of the string hoppers. Instead, all I really want to do it tempt you into trying (if you never have) these delicious string hoppers. And if you have tried putu mayam, you should try it the Sri Lankan way. Once you taste the wonderfully steamed rice string hoppers in a sweet and sour coconut curry and a masala fried egg, you’ll never turn back. It explodes a few different taste buds at the same time and that’s why I love this so much!

However, making the string hoppers is not easy. It’s a painful process of kneading the dough in hot water and squeezing it out in this tiny wooden vessel and then steaming it over a water bath for 5~10minutes. The hardest part for me was the “squeezing” as it drained all the energy out of me. Thankfully, the husband lent a helping hand. 🙂 After this episode, I was compelled to look for a more automated options to make this and there were a few and this one I liked best. Maybe, I should invest on this. http://www.oritha.com/naveeno-95-black-and-white-1-set-1.html

String Hoppers (Idiyappam)

  • 1 cup white rice flour (or idyappam flour)
  • 1 cup wheat flour (or wheat idiyappam flour)
  • 3 cups of hot water
  • 2 tsp salt

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Method:

  1. Mix both flour and salt in a bowl
  2. Add hot water into the flour while using the back of a wooden spoon, mixing the floor together. You will get a somewhat a crumbly dough
  3. Using your hands (maybe use plastic gloves), knead the dough a little till it becomes fully mixed and no floury lumps in them. It’s okay if it’s still mushy
  4. Squeeze out the string hoppers using your gadget to get a rounded shapes over a tray that you will use over your boiler. I used a pizza tray with holes and layered it with a baking paper
  5. Steam string hoppers for 5~10mins

Sothi (Yellow Coconut Curry)

  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1~2 green chili halved and seeds removed (you can leave the seeds if you want more heat)
  • 1 tomato roughly chopped
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 1/4~1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 cup of evaporated milk/light cream/milk
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • salt
  • 3~4 curry leaves
  • 1/2 a lime juice

Method:

  1. Fry the fenugreek seeds, onions and garlic in pan till the aroma is released from the seeds
  2. Add in the chilis, tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Let this come to a boil
  3. Then add in the coconut milk, tamarind paste and turmeric. The sothi will start to come together. Add salt and add in the milk. Do not let the sothi boil. Once the sothi has had enough heat, turn off the flame and add in the lime juice to finish off

Masala Fried Egg

  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Salt
  • 1 onion chopped fine
  • 1 green chili seeds removed and chopped fine
  • 3~4 curry leaves chopped fine
  • 4 eggs

Method:

  1. Mix the turmeric and chili powder with little water (~2tbsp) till it is easily dissolved and no longer lumpy
  2. Break in the eggs in the turmeric and chili mix. Beat it thoroughly with required salt.
  3. Fry the onions, chili and curry leaves in a pan till softened. Add in the egg batter and fry in omelettes.

Spicy Prawn Fritters

Method:

  1. Similar to the masala egg, coat prawns in chili powder and turmeric and salt. You can add some cajun crumbs if you like.
  2. Fry them thoroughly

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Ceylonese Style Chicken Curry

ImageFirstly, I apologize for the unappealing picture. You see, as soon as I finished cooking the curry, I just scooped up as much curry as possible on my plate before I devoured every bit of it. And I also had second helpings. Only once my tummy was full, I realized I didn’t take a photograph of the curry. Oopss! So, hurriedly, scooped up whatever curry that was left onto a plate and this is the picture you get. Most of the potatoes and bigger chicken pieces were already gone. Maybe I’ll update this post another time with a better picture. But here is the recipe for one of my favourite chicken curry – the ceylonese style!

It’s the perfect curry for rice or for dunking in your “roti”. It’s yum, creamy and spicy all at the same time. And it’s great for dinner parties as there will be more than enough curry to go around. Or maybe not…

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken cut into 12~16 pieces
  • Handful of ginger bashed in a pestle & mortar (if you don’t have pestle & mortar, fret not, just fine grate the ginger) – save all the ginger juices
  • 2~3 cinnamon sticks
  • 4~5 star anise
  • 250 ml coconut milk
  • 4~5 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1~2 soft tomato diced
  • 1 whole garlic chopped fine
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2~3 large potatoes skinned and cut into quarters
  • 1~2 chili halved and seeds removed
  • 4~5 curry leaves

Method:

  1. Use the ginger juices and ginger bits to coat the chicken in a bowl and set aside
  2. Toast the cinnamon sticks and star anise in pot with some oil. Once the aroma is released, add in the onions and garlic. Stirring constantly to avoid the garlic to over burn.
  3. Once the onion has caramelized, add in the chili, tomato and 2 cups of water. Add in the curry powder and chili powder and stir in till it becomes a thick paste
  4. Add the chicken together with the ginger and all. Also add in the potatoes. Stir in the curry paste all around the meat and then close the lid to let the chicken start cooking
  5. Once the chicken is almost cooked, add in the coconut milk and stir in the curry.
  6. Let the curry boil till the potatoes are cooked through. Check for salt and add the cumin powder. If needed, add more curry powder or if too thick, add some water. You can adjust this on your own discretion.
  7. At the end, add in the curry leaves and you are ready to serve the curry. I usually let the curry cook for about 30mins on the stove. And the last 10mins, I let it simmer with medium heat with the lid off and hood on. What happens is that the moisture starts to escape from the curry and slowly thickening the gravy. In the end, you will end up with only 3/4 liquid from what you started with.

*This should serve at least 5~6 person

Perfect Tuna Cutlets

The trick to getting the cutlets crispy on the outside and soft inside shall be revealed…

In fact, I can say it in a few words. You cannot have too damp of a filling. When your filling is soggy, the cutlet loses its shape when you fry as it soaks up too much oil – resulting in mushed cutlets. Keep the filling as dry as possible. Especially the mashed potatoes and the tuna has to be drained well from the can. Also, the exterior needs to be crisp when fried. A good bread crumb would do the trick. If you don’d have bread crumbs, you can always blitz cream cracker biscuits or even oats/cornflakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of tuna in water (large) – flakes if you want this easier
  • 2 medium sized potato skin removed (or 3 if potatoes are small)
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 green/red chili diced (without seeds)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg white
  • salt to taste
  • Bread crumbs

Method:

  1. Boil the potato in a pot till it’s ready to mash. Drain the potatoes thoroughly before mashing it. 
  2. Add drained tuna into mashed potatoes. Together with chili powder, turmeric and salt. I would taste for salt at this point rather than later but that’s just me.
  3. Add in the onions, chili and egg yolk. Using your hand (which is the best), mash all the ingredients together. If you just had your nails manicured and don’t want it to stain then maybe get someone else to do it or use plastic gloves. Nothing like using the hands to integrate the potatoes and tuna.                                                                                                                                                            Image
  4. Make the cutlets into bite size balls. You can make them flat or rounded (like I did)
  5. Next, coat the cutlets in egg whites before coating them in bread crumbs
  6. Fry the cutlets in a pan with oil that reaches at least half the cutlet’s height. Fry till it’s bronzed on all sides evenly.

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* This should give you at least 15~20 cutlets. Depending on the amount of potato you used and cutlet size. Usually eaten as a side dish for rice & curry. But I understand if you have the tendency to pop it into your mouth while it’s still hot from the pan *winks*

Ceylonese style Brinjal Mash (Kathrikka Paal Kadaiyal)

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You cannot go wrong with brinjal. Be it fried, curried or baked. It’s amazingly super yummy vegetable. I love it. I love it on pizzas and even as a dip. This recipe is super easy and super yummy too. It’s something my mother used to make and whenever I miss her, I make this dish. It’s a great side kick for my earlier post on Prawn Curry or with chicken curry too. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 4~5 cloves of garlic
  • ½ an onion chopped
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1~2 round brinjal or if you are using the slightly thinner oblong ones, use 3~4 pieces – skin removed and diced into cubes
  • 1 green chili halved and seeds removed (I happen to run out of it, so I used red ones)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 4~5 curry leaves
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Heat a good pot with oil. Fry in the mustard seeds, garlic and onions. Once onions have softened, add in the chili and brinjal. Immediately add 1 cup of water to the pot and close the lid for the brinjal to cook Image
  2. The brinjal will start to soften and turn brownish. Make sure you do not let the pot to burn without water by stirring the pot every few minutes and adding 1 tbsp water each time (if required). You don’t want too much water in it as we don’t want this turning into a runny mash
  3. Once the brinjal is cooked, add turmeric, coconut milk and mash the brinjal with a masher
  4. As the brinjal takes in more heat, add a little evaporated milk just enough to silken it. Continue this process until the brinjal is nice and mashed. Add curry leaves and salt to taste. Few more stirs in the pot and you’re done.

Authentic Ceylonese-Sri Lankan Prawn Curry

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This is my mother’s specialty and thankfully, I have inherited her tiny gift of making the best curry of all time – Prawn Curry! Every time I think about this curry, I salivate. It’s thick, it’s creamy, it’s sour and it’s spicy. The combination of different tastes just works so perfectly well together, I cannot tell you how much I just want to drink it on its own. I have by the way!

Oddly though, this is also the easiest curry to make with hardly any additional spices required apart from curry powder. It’s best to serve this curry with steamed rice, lightly cooked vegetables, maybe a nice masala fried fish and cucumber/onion raita or just plain ol’ yogurt. Or you can also have this with freshly made egg thosai. It’s yum yum yummmm… Do try this recipe and you will thank me for it 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp oil of your choice
  • 15~20 prawns shells removed and deveined
  • 1 whole of garlic chopped
  • 1 large onion halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 green chili, halved and seeds removed
  • 1 tomato diced into cubes
  • 4 tbsp of curry powder
  • 1 tbsp of chili powder (optional)
  • 1 can of coconut milk. (If you are using freshly squeezed coconut milk, I say about 1~1 ½ cups. Also, if you are skimming on coconut milk, use 1 cup of evaporated milk instead)
  • 1~2 tbsp of tamarin puree
  • 5~8 curry leaves
  • 3 eggs scrambled and fried till fluffy (Optional, or you can also substitute the fried eggs to boiled eggs as it is equally rewarding. I usually use 1 egg/person)
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a pot and start frying the garlic and then adding the onions
  2. Once onions has softened, add in the prawns, tomato and green chili. Cook till prawns turns  lush and pink
  3. Add 2 cups of water, the curry powder and chili powder into the pot. Let this come to a boil
  4. Once the curry is somewhat done, add in the coconut milk, tamarind paste, curry leaves and let the whole thing come to a boil again. If you feel your curry isn’t thick enough, you can add a little bit more of curry powder and evaporated milk
  5. All in all, it will not take you more than 20mins to cook this curry. Add salt to taste and the pre-fried eggs (or boiled ones) into the curry just before turning off the flame.
  6. The final and most important step of all, flood your plate with curry over a serving of steamed rice and shovel it into your mouth.

*This recipe should serve 3~4 people (Not applicable if all of them want to drink the curry though)

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