Coconut curry crabs & Green mango curry & Pumpkin curry

Written by zsn9


Sri Lankan crab is famous throughout the region. Fresh crabs, so plentiful in the seas here, are simmered to perfection in a spiced coconut curry gravy.  

  • 3 kg (6 1/2 lbs) fresh crabs
  •  1 onion, sliced 
  • 2 green finger-length chillies, chopped 
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons Roasted Curry Powder or fish curry powder
  •  2 teaspoons turmeric powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  •  1 teaspoon fenugreek powder 
  • 2 teaspoons dried tamarind pulp, soaked in 2 tablespoons water, mashed and strained to obtain the juice 
  • 1 sprig curry leaves 
  • 2 cups (500 ml) water 
  • 4 cups (1 litre) thick coconut milk
  •  1/2 teaspoon mustard powder 
  • Juice of 1 lime 

Salt and pepper, to taste

 Clean the crabs, removing the carapace and splitting them into quarters with a cleaver.

 Place in a large pan, add all the other ingredients except the coconut milk, mustard powder, lime juice and salt.

 Bring to a boil then add the coconut milk, return the mixture to simmering point, and simmer gently for 20 min- utes.

 Add the mustard powder, lime juice, salt and pepper, and stir for a few minutes until the flavours are married. 

Remove from the heat and serve hot.

Green mango curry 

This classical Sinhalese dish can be traced back to the fifth century, when it was served at the court of King Kasyapa of Sigiriya.

  • 1 tablespoon oil 
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger 
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  •  1 red finger-length chilli, sliced
  •  4 teaspoons Roasted Curry Powder or regular curry powder 
  • 1/2 small cinnamon stick 
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  •  700 g (1 1/2 lbs) green mangoes, peeled and pitted, flesh cut into long, thick strips 
  • Scant
  •  1/2 cup (100 ml) thin coconut milk
  •  1 teaspoon mustard powder
  •  3 tablespoons vinegar 
  • 3/4 cup (200 ml) thick coconut milk
  •  1 tablespoon sugar

Heat the oil in a pan and stir-fry the onion, garlic, ginger, curry leaves and red chillies until the onion is soft.

 Add the curry powder, cinnamon, salt, mango and thin coconut milk. Bring to a boil and simmer until the mango is just tender, about 10 minutes.

 Meanwhile, mix the mustard powder with a little vinegar to form a paste.

 Stir the mustard paste into the thick coconut milk and, when the mango is ten- der, add the mustard and thick coconut milk, and the sugar to the curry. 

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Adjust the seasoning. The gravy should be thick enough to thoroughly coat the mango

Pumpkin curry 

  • 700 g (1 1/2 lbs) pumpkin, peeled, washed and cut into medium chuns
  •  100 g (1/2 cup) chopped onion
  •  1–2 green finger-length chillies, chopped
  •  4 cloves garlic, chopped
  •  5 cm (2 in) pandanus leaf 
  • 1 sprig curry leaves 
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  •  1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  •  2 teaspoons Roasted Curry Powder or regular curry powder 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste 
  • 2 cups (500 ml) thin coconut milk 
  • 2 tablespoons uncooked rice mixed with
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated coconut, dry-roasted until golden brown and then ground in a blender to yield 2 tablespoons
  •  1 cup (250 ml) thick coconut milk

lace all the ingredients except the ground coconut-rice mixture and thick coconut milk into a pan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the pumpkin is almost tender, about 15 minutes. Dissolve the ground coconut-rice mixture into the thick coconut milk.

Add to the simmering curry and cook over low heat until the gravy is thick and coats the pumpkin pieces, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Topknot cakes

These deep-fried cakes, sporting a topknot, are a pop- ular snack or dessert.

  • 500 g (4 cups) rice flour
  •  2 cups (500 ml) brown syrup or maple syrup 
  • Oil, for deep-frying

Using a fine sieve, sift the rice flour into a large mixing bowl and add the syrup.

 (If the mixture is too thick add a little hot water.) Set aside for 30 minutes.

 Heat the oil to low temperature, about 150°C (300°F). Pour the mixture, about 1/4 cup (60 ml), at a time into the hot oil. 

After a few minutes the cakes will begin to stiffen. Insert a sharp-tipped wooden skewer or satay stick into the centre of each cake and turn it in one direction while slowly lifting the batter out of the pan.

The uncooked batter will emerge looking like a cookie with a topknot. When each cake reaches a dark brown colour, remove from the oil and set aside to drain on paper towels to remove excess oil. Makes about 30 pieces