Friday, February 24, 2012

Roasted Curry Powder: Cooking like a Sri Lankan

Welcome to the first post in a series on Sri Lankan cooking. Sri Lankan cooking invariably depends for its authentic taste on a variety of curry powders and spices. Curry powders are commonly called "Thuna paha" which literally translates to "Three and five" meaning the eight kinds of spices that are used to make the spice mixtures. However, as is true for any culinary tradition, every housewife has her own special blend of the "Thuna paha" that is authentic to her home.

Badapu thuna paha means roasted curry powder, while just "thuna paha" means the raw kind. To  make the badapu thuna paha whole spices are roasted over a low flame in a shallow pan or a "thatchi"/wok. Then they are mixed and ground to a fine aromatic powder.

Badapu thunapaha is usually used in meat, poultry or fish dishes. But it can also be used in any vegetable dish accompanied by chillie  to give the dish a deeper colour and a more intense flavour and heat. Dishes to which badapu thunapaha are added are usually deeper and darker in colour than those to which unroasted thunapaha are added.

Ingredients to make badapu thunapaha

Makes: about 12 tablespoons

6 tablespoons of coriander seeds
3 tablespoons of cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
5 cm or 2 inch piece cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon cloves
8 cardamoms
10 dried curry leaves. ( If using fresh ones roast them in the pan first)
1 teaspoon chillie powder

How To

Dry fry or roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds separately over a low flame in a shallow pan until they give off an intense aroma and turns brown. This shouldn't take more than a minute and a half each. The more you roast, the richer the colour will be. Just make sure that the spices do not get burnt.

Dry fry or roast as above, the cloves, cardamoms and the cinnamon stick together, again for about a minute and a half. If using fresh curry leaves, dry fry them the same way until they turn brown. 

Mix everything together including the curry leaves and the chillie powder. 

Grind everything to a fine powder. Store in an airtight and non-transparent container. Will keep up to about 2 months. 

Next  in line:

Sri Lankan chicken curry using the curry powder we just made. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cooking like a Sri Lankan : Intro


Welcome to the "Cooking like a Sri Lankan" series. From today, we will take a journey into the very diverse and yum yum Sri Lankan Cooking. Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic and a multi-religious country with past colonial influences reflecting  this diversity and cultural richness in their food. Sinhalese cuisine and Tamil cuisine have slight differences due to their respective spice mixtures. But all these foods are enjoyed by everyone alike.

The main staple in Sri Lankan cuisine is rice with a variety of dishes supplementing rice at meals. Most of the dishes are well flavoured with spice mixtures and are quite hot to the taste. But once you have Sri Lanksn food, no other kind will quite do. It's that awesome.

We will be starting the series with how to make Sri Lankan curry powder. Two main kinds of curry powders are used in Sinhalese households, namely roasted and raw. The Tamil household variation is slightly different resulting in an altogether different and equally lovely smell and taste.

I hope you enjoy the series and take time to indulge yourself by trying out Sri Lankan recipes. I assure you that you will never forget this unique experience.

First to come: Sri lankan roasted curry powder, known by the locals as "Badapu Thuna Paha"

Friday, February 17, 2012

Simple Butter Cake Recipe

Butter Cake

Butter cake is a Sri Lankan dessert and tea time staple. Scones for the English and butter cake for the Sri Lankans. We love a good butter cake. By varying the quantities of ingredients, a simple butter cake can be turned into a Madeira cake or a pound cake.

As the name suggests, a butter cake includes the most basic of ingredients. Butter, eggs, sugar and flour. Taken in equal quantities. Beaten well together and baked at 180 degrees Celsius for twenty minutes. As simple as that. Too much of a trouble to turn on the oven? No problem. Just steam it. Butter cake pudding. Soft. Delicious goodness.

So here's how it goes. To make a cake of one kilo, you need 250 grams each of the ingredients, which add up to a kilo. Four large eggs or five medium ones weigh around 250g, so if you're making a cake weighing a kilo, use 4 large eggs, a cake of 500g, 2 large eggs etc. It's easy to calculate. And anyway, one extra egg will only make it more moist. yum yum. But that's the limit. :) The weight list is below.

Ingredients (For 1kg cake)
250g unsalted butter or margarine
250g castor sugar. (or just grind normal sugar into a fine power in your coffee grinder)
250g all purpose flour
4 large eggs
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
A bit of butter and extra flour to prepare the cake tin

How to
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Prepare the cake tin by greasing it with a bit of butter and lightly dusting it with a bit of flour.
Add the baking powder to the flour and sift three times.
In a large bowl Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and all of the sugar has dissolved.
While beating the butter/sugar mixture, lightly beat the eggs, one by one in a separate bowl with a whisk and add to the butter/sugar mixture. Keep on beating until all the eggs are added and well beaten.
Add the vanilla extract and beat well.
Stop the beater. Fold in the flour little by little and mix with a spoon or a spatula. Don't over mix (Hence not using the beater). If the mixture is too thick, mix in two tablespoons of milk.
Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for twenty minutes or until a skewer comes off clean.

If you want the cake to be even fluffier and lighter, before beating the butter, separate the eggs. Beat the whites until stiff peaks form and then the yolks. Add the stage of adding eggs, beat in the yolks first and then fold in the whites. Continue as usual.

Cut yourself one huge slice (or two or more) pour a cup of ginger tea, lounge with a nice book and indulge yourself. :)

You will try and tell me how it came won't you? Trust me, it's a piece of cake.

Note: On 24 Feb 2012

Ooh ooh look what made with a butter cake. :D

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Back after a long long long time

Hi There!!!

It's been forever.. For some reason every time I thought of writing, something came up and I kept putting it off. Ohh.. But I have so many things to share..

Starting with  a Sri Lankan Cooking series.. For all those Sri Lankans living abroad (Including my little brother) and missing food from home and for all foodies the world over.

Alrighty then, I will see you tomorrow.