Sri Lanka…A beautiful country :)

Who would have thought that a ‘small’ country like Sri Lanka would have so much to offer? My husband and I recently visited this beautiful island and immediately fell in love with it. The hustle and bustle of the busy roads, with street vendors on the side selling anything from fresh fruit and veg to swim floats and wood carvings, kept us very entertained.

The people were so friendly that each and every person we met asked us where we were from, as they were so intrigued by us! They were very kind and friendly and wanted to learn about new people. Nobody bothered us or tried to convince us that we need to buy a lucky necklace that will cure any illnesses. The children smiled at us and waved like we were A-list celebrities.

The one thing I have to talk about is the food! The food was so memorable that I am convinced my carnivore husband could live as a vegetarian out there. From fresh exotic fruit such as papaya, rambutan and king coconuts, to pumpkin curry, lentil curry, mango curry and any other curry you can think of!

As a British Asian, I have eaten my fair share of curries, but never have I tasted curries such as these. The contrast between sweet and spicy wakes up your taste buds and makes you yearn for more. A traditional Sri Lankan lunch consists of a number of curries served with red or white rice, accompanied with roti, poppadoms and fried lake fish. Most importantly, it was served with a side of spicy ‘sambol’, which is a combination of ground coconut, chillies, onions and lime, which absolutely makes the meal kick! Delicious.

They utilise so much of what they can grow themselves. For example, no part of a coconut is wasted; the water and flesh is used in cooking, the shells are used for carvings and the husks used as brooms; the oil is used for cooking as well as beauty products and the leaves  are woven together and used for shelter – you name it they make it!

I could go on and on about all the different experiences we had in Sri Lanka, such as releasing baby turtles in the sea or climbing Sigiriya rock, but I will be here all night. There was so much to explore in Sri Lanka that I would most likely visit again one day. And when I do, I’m going straight for a traditional lunch!

A beautiful country filled with warmth, vibrancy and excitement. A must see!

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Friday Night Curry…Butter Chicken

With all this hype about how butter is now good for us, I couldn’t not cook butter chicken and share it with all you lovely people. Now I don’t know if butter is good for us, bad for us, or simply tormenting us but what I do know is that it’s delicious and seems to make everything taste better. But yes, everything in moderation I can hear you say.

I based this dish from Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube video on butter chicken by Maunika but gave it my own spin. It’s such a delicious dish and if you are not a fan of very spicy curries, then you have to give this one a try.

I basically followed this recipe but used Pataks Kashmiri spice paste rather than a powder. You can get this in most of the supermarkets and it gives the curry a great flavour.

I marinated the chicken (for the whole day) in yoghurt, ginger, garlic and chilli paste, tomato puree, Kashmiri paste, lemon, salt, chilli powder turmeric, ground cumin and coriander powder. I then placed the chicken on skewers and cooked it in the oven to get nice and charred.

To make the sauce I fried a chopped onion in some butter, and once browned I then added a chopped tomato, ginger, garlic and chilli paste, tomato puree and the Kashimiri paste. I added different spices such as turmeric, chilli powder, cumin, coriander powder and let this cook into a thick paste. Next I added about 100ml of single cream to give the sauce a creamy taste. I let the sauce down with some boiling water and let it simmer. I preferred to do this than use lots of double cream so I would feel less guilty!

Once the chicken is charred I added it to the sauce alongside all its juices and its done! Add some fresh coriander and serve with naan bread or chapatis and basmati rice. Delicious!

If you are vegetarian you can always make this sauce and use hearty veg such as cauliflower and sweet potato. I like my curries a bit spicy but if you don’t then you don’t have to add any chilli, but go on…spice up your life! (Gosh that was cheesy)

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Butter chicken 1 wButter chicken 2 w

 

Chapatis!

Chapatis are a staple food in our Indian culture and is found regularly in our homes. They are so easy to make (after a bit of practice) and taste great with all different types of curries. Dipped in lentil daal or used to dive into a spicy fish or chicken curry, chapatis are delicious.

I remember when I was young, I would stand by the stove where my mother would be churning these chapatis out in no time. Perfectly round, thin and soft, it was like watching a professional. One after the other, they would come off the hot stove all puffed up and ready for me to slather butter all over it. I wouldn’t even wait to sit down and eat it with my curry, I would simply eat it right there. I think many of my fellow Indian friends/family would have the same memory!

Granted, I don’t put butter on them anymore unless I am trying to recapture my youth but I still love them. Simply combine wholemeal flour, oil and hot water, knead together and you have your dough. Different cultures make them in their own way, for example Hindus tend to make them thin and small, whereas Sikhs make them large and thick. Both equally delicious!

So next time you have a curry, rather than buying naan bread or eating it with rice, try giving chapatis a try! They can be cooked in a normal non-stick pan if you don’t have anything else. But keep the pan dry, there is no need to cook them in any oil or butter as they will just get greasy. But by all means slather them with butter afterwards!

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Daal and Chapatis

Japanese Chicken Katsu Curry

How many of you love to eat at Wagamama’s? I know I do. Their food has become so popular but one dish that seems to stand out is their Chicken Katsu Curry. It’s crispy breaded chicken served with sticky white rice and an aromatic curry sauce poured over it. Apparently it’s one of their most ordered dishes. So I thought lets try it at home!

Now I know what you are thinking…why bother? Well, it’s actually really easy to make and if you don’t eat chicken you can always substitute it for fish or vegetables such as aubergine or courgettes. Plus it’s fun and satisfying to make your own! If you can get panko breadcrumbs from your local supermarket, I would really recommend it. It makes the coating really crispy in a way that normal breadcrumbs can’t. If you can’t get them, then try and toast your breadcrumbs slightly so they are crunchy.

Also the curry sauce is so easy to make and yet it is the star of the show. I like spicy food so I added chilli flakes to mine to just give it some heat. Go on give it a try! Recipe is below…

Chicken Katsu Curry 4 w

I adapted a few recipes from online and recipe books. This recipe feeds 2-3 people. Here’s how I did it…

Ingredients:

Breast chicken (one per person)

Plain flour

1 egg

Panko breadcrumbs

For the curry sauce:

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 thumb size piece of ginger

1 carrot

1 tbsp medium curry powder

Splash of soy sauce

A pinch of garam masala

1 tsp Brown sugar

Chilli flakes to taste (optional)

Chicken stock or stock cube

Basmati rice or sticky rice

Method:

  1. To prepare the chicken, place it between some greaseproof paper and bash the thick side with something heavy to tenderise the chicken and flatten it out. Then prepare the chicken by coating it in seasoned flour, then egg and then the panko breadcrumbs. Make sure its evenly coated and place in the fridge until ready to cook.
  2. For the curry sauce: Roughly chop and saute the onion, carrot, garlic and ginger in olive oil until soft and slightly caramelised. Add the curry powder and a tablespoon of plain flour to make a thick paste and cook out the flour. Then slowly add the chicken stock to make a sauce to the consistency you like. Add a splash of soy sauce, a tsp of brown sugar and a pinch of garam masala and season to taste. Add chilli flakes if you want a spicy hit. I recommend it! Then blend the sauce using a hand blender (optional). Let it simmer and thicken slowly.
  3. Take the chicken out of the fridge 10 minutes before you are ready to cook it. Shallow fry the chicken breasts in olive oil until cooked through and golden. Slice into strips.
  4. Serve with sticky or basmati rice and salad or vegetables of your choice and pour the curry sauce over the top. Enjoy!

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