Sri Lankan Curried Roast Lamb

Traditionally, we don’t do a lot of roasting in Sri Lanka — too hot, I suspect! But here in Chicago, as it gets cooler out, roasting is a nice, easy option; it takes time, but very little effort. And if you prepare a spicy curry sauce separately, this method lets you adjust spice levels easily to the taste of your guests (or kids). The lamb itself is flavorful but not spicy; the potatoes ditto. The sauce adds a nice kick of heat for those who enjoy it!

Lamb:
3-4 lb. boneless lamb leg or shoulder
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 t. garlic powder
2 tsp. roasted curry powder
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 c. vinegar

Potatoes:
dozen cloves garlic (unpeeled)
3 onions, coarsely chopped
3 lbs. new potatoes, in roughly 2 inch cubes
1-2 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
2 t. mustard seeds
2 t. cumin seeds
2 T vegetable oil

Curry sauce (optional):
2 T butter
1 t. red chili powder
2 T ketchup
1 t. salt
1 c. coconut milk
1 c. water

1. Mix spices for lamb together. Pierce the lamb all over with a fork or skewer and marinate in spices and vinegar for 2-4 hours. (I find this easiest to do in a plastic bag, turning periodically.)

2. Preheat oven to 450 F. Mix garlic cloves, onions and potatoes in a large roasting pan with the vegetable oil; rest lamb on top, fat side up.

3. Roast 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and roast until internal temperature reaches 135-145 degrees (for medium-rare or medium meat), about another 60-90 minutes.

 

4. Remove meat to a carving board and let rest 10 minutes, then slice and serve with the potatoes and onions.

5. While resting, if you’d like, you can make a curry sauce. Put roasting pan on stovetop burner, add butter, chili powder, ketchup, salt, coconut milk, and water. Stir and bring to a boil, then keep stirring and cook down until it makes a nice sauce, about 5 minutes. Pour into a gravy boat or measuring cup with spout and ladle over meat and potatoes. Enjoy!

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Curry-Poached (or Grilled) Chicken Sandwich, Two Ways

The nice thing about poaching chicken on the weekend is that you can then make really quick weeknight meals. Throw a little garlic naan in the toaster oven (I just used some frozen pre-made naan), and then you can top it with all kinds of things. In this case, I did one open-face sandwich with store-bought guacamole and mango salsa (yum), and one toasted sandwich with homemade seeni sambol (also yum). Add in a little salad or some roasted veggies, and you have yourself a very nice meal.

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Curry-Poached Chicken Soup

(20-30 minutes, serves 4)

I’ve been poaching chicken breast lately, and I was curious how it would work with Sri Lankan flavors. This turned out quite tasty served as a soup (very reminiscent of rasam), with a little cooked millet and some chopped bell pepper to fill out the dish. Would make again!

(I tried serving it on a plate with the millet, but even with a little broth poured over the millet, I thought the end result was a bit dry; wouldn’t recommend. The chicken would be nice in a sandwich with seeni sambol, though!)

1 red onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
1 T dark-roasted curry powder
2 t. salt
2 T lime juice
1/2 c. tomato juice (from a can)
1/2 c. wine
3 c. water
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)

NOTE: If serving with rice or millet, start that going first; it’ll be ready in 15-25 minutes, along with the chicken, making this as easy and healthy weeknight meal.

1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot; slowly bring just to a simmer over medium heat.

2. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10-12 minutes (until juices run clear when chicken is pierced in the thickest part of the meat).

3. Remove chicken to a cutting board, let cool a little, slice, and serve with the broth it cooked in. A little sliced bell pepper or scallion is a lovely grace note to the dish; you could also stir in some peas or corn.

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Mango Passionfruit Caramels

Usually I make exactly what I write in the recipe, but the truth is, I find cutting caramels labor-intensive enough that it’s something I only plan to do once a year or so. So I’m not going to make these again anytime soon, even though they’re quite delicious, and even though I think they would be just the tiniest bit tastier with the proportions I’m going to write down below. I made these with 3/4 c. mango pulp and 1/4 c. passionfruit pulp, because that’s what I had on hand, but I think they would be even better with 1/2 and 1/2, so that the tartness of the passionfruit would better balance the mango. But honestly, I think any ratio of those two would be delicious, as long as you ended up with 1 c. fruit pulp total.

Based on a Gale Gand basic caramel recipe. Makes at least 60 caramels.

5 c. sugar
1/2 c. mango pulp
1/2 c. passionfruit pulp
1 c. water
6 T butter
1 c. cream, warmed a little
flake salt for topping (optional)

1. In a very large pot (it will boil up a lot), mix sugar, fruit pulp, and water.

2. Bring to a boil and continue cooking without stirring until hard ball stage (250 degrees on a candy thermometer).

3. Turn heat off and stir in the butter and then the cream.

4. Pour into a 9×12 pan that has been lined with parchment paper and buttered. Let the caramel cool and set until firm, at least two hours and preferably overnight.

5. Once firm, turn caramel out onto a board, cut into rectangles, and sprinkle with flake salt if desired. Wrap in decorative clear plastic (you can get squares online that are meant for caramels, that twist and hold well).

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Candy-Making

Candy recipe-testing takes so much more patience than I normally need for recipe-testing!

I took a basic caramel recipe, swapped out the water for mango & passionfruit pulp, and then realized that that wasn’t thick enough, so I just went ahead and added the water back in. So now I *really* have no idea whether this will set into caramels or not. I may end up with a sticky messy that is impossible to cut. I may end up with toffee instead. It’s going to be hours before I have any idea.

I am feeling my way through candy-making, and I have to remind myself that my early attempts to modify my mom’s marshmallow recipe were equally confusing, and now, at least, I have that down. It’d be nice to get a solid desi-inflected caramel recipe down — we’ll see.

Ah well. I suppose this means it’s time to go and write for a while? Or sort clothes? Something.  I suppose if it doesn’t set, I’ll have mango-passionfruit caramel sauce, which is not a tragedy.

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Egg Bites with Red Pepper and Leek

I love having a quick, warm (30 seconds in the microwave) eggy breakfast on a busy weekday morning!

 

 
Not writing out the recipe because it’s not perfect yet. The sautéed leeks are tasty, but the texture is a little too much for something this light; I won’t be using them next time. The fresh bell pepper is good, but I want a little more cheese. Got a brûlée torch, which I’ve been wanting for awhile, and it does help make for a pretty presentation, though I admit, most mornings, I just eat them straight out of the little jars with a spoon. Will likely make another batch this weekend, so perhaps a proper recipe next week.

 

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Passionfruit Brittle

Passionfruit Brittle
 
So I admit, I set out to make caramels, and I got brittle instead. On the other hand, a) the brittle is delicious (fruity tang blending harmoniously with the dark sweetness of the caramelized sugar, yum), b) now I know how to make brittle, and c) I can still try to make caramels tomorrow.
 
I’m going to call this a win-win. 🙂
 
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. passion fruit puree
2 T corn syrup
1/2 t. salt
1 c. sugar
 
1. In a large pot, combine all ingredients and stir to combine. Butter a large Pyrex dish.
 
2. Heat pot on medium, stirring periodically, until a candy thermometer measures 240 degrees F (soft ball stage).
 
3. Pour candy out into baking dish and let cool a few hours. Peel up from the bottom of the dish (otherwise it may stick hard), and the chill in the fridge until quite hard, another hour or two. Break apart into brittle pieces and enjoy.
 
(Don’t lose a tooth!)
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Vegan Serendib (the e-book) launches!

WOOT WOOT WOOT! It’s launch day, people! Vegan Serendib: A Small Sri Lankan Cookbook (the e-book) is go for launch!   Thank you to everyone who gave me feedback on recipes, and esp. to vegan readers who helped with substitutions, etc. Special shout-out to Jesse Lex who gave much feedback at various points, and Aaron Lav who is a font of food information. Print version is coming soon.

$5 if you order from me directly

$5.99 on Amazon

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