I really want to visit Sri Lanka. That’s it, that’s pretty much all I’ve got to say. I’m just putting it out there as a message to the universe. (I once did a message to the universe whilst idling through an Argos catalogue. Myself and a friend then did a collage of pictures from the catalogue: all the things we wanted. My friend put himself with two blonde girls. Within the month he had two blonde girlfriends! No kidding. I also got everything I wanted, although they were more mundane, things like a posh electric kettle and a lawn mower. Magic! )
Here is a Sri Lankan inspired recipe. It’s awesome and after prepping the vegetables, it takes no time to cook.
Pineapple, cashew, coconut curry recipe
3-4 tbsps coconut oil/vegetable oil
1 tsp dark brown mustard seeds
5-6 banana shallots, sliced thinly
a thumb of ginger, peeled and diced
1 stick lemon grass, bashed until bruised
1 cinnamon stick
handful of fresh curry leaves
1 whole pineapple, peeled, sliced, cored, cut into segments
1 can (400ml) of coconut milk
1 tsp turmeric, ground or if fresh, 1 root sliced thinly
1 can (160ml) of coconut cream
1 tsp of sea salt
A big handful (100g) of cashew nuts
1 fresh coconut, sliced into fine strips. (peeled or unpeeled)
1 tsp fennel seeds, ground
Small bunch of fresh coriander leaves, picked
1 or 2 red birds eye chillis, thinly sliced
1 lime, quartered
Shopping and Prep:
Preparing a fresh pineapple seems intimidating but is quite easy. First slice a little from the bottom to create a flat base. Place it on a chopping board and with a sharp knife, slicing downwards, shave off the skin, going around the pineapple. Then remove the top. Then, again with your sharp knife, cut the pineapple into 2cm thick slices crossway until the end. Stick 2 or 3 rounds of pineapple on top of each other and using an apple corer, remove the stringy tough centre. Do this until all the round of pineapple are cored. Then cut each slice into 6, like a cake. Set aside.
When buying a fresh coconut, rattle it, to make sure there is milk inside. This means it is still fresh. It’s so disappointing to buy a coconut, go through all the effort of cracking it open, to find it’s off or worse, mouldy.
To open a coconut, first pierce a couple of the eyes with a corkscrew then drain the milk into a glass. I either drink the milk or sling it into the curry.
Then take a large heavy knife and using the back of the knife, while cradling the coconut in your hand, tap all around the middle ‘equator’ of the coconut. Keep going, it will crack eventually, a clean break all around. Very satisfying.
Then you can prise out the coconut and cut it into thin slices. I don’t bother peeling off the brown for this recipe but you can if you like.
When buying coconut milk and coconut cream, buy good brands that have a high proportion of coconut and no (or few) thickeners and stabilisers.
Prep the rest of the ingredients (shallots/ginger/lemon grass/chilli/coriander)
Get out a heavy bottomed deep skillet or frying pan and, on a medium heat, heat up the coconut oil then add the mustard seeds, frying briefly until they start to pop. Lower the heat to medium/low then add the shallots and cook until soft, then the ginger, the lemon grass, the cinnamon stick, the curry leaves. Fry for a few minutes. Add the pineapple slices, stir for a minute or two then add the coconut milk.
Then add the turmeric and the coconut cream. Add the salt, stir and cook for five minutes. Then add the cashews, coconut, fennel seeds. Salt to taste. Garnish with fresh coriander and thinly sliced red chillis and segments of lime.
Serve with rice.