So I may or may not be prone to hyperbole. I like to use bolds, ALL CAPS and exclamation marks!
What can I say, I get really excited about food.
My apparent delight when I make something fantastic may cause you to not believe me when I tell you that I’ve now made the best thing ever.
But I have now made the best thing ever.
Two things, actually.
I will clarify. I have made the best beef curry ever.
And rice ever.
They are both the best ever alone or together.
First, the rice. When Rutabaga handed over another rice recipe, I internally sighed, thinking “how many more rice dishes can I make?” But as I looked over the recipe, I realized that this particular rice recipe used a lot of the flavors and spices of yore (as in months ago in Pacific Island times) and today (as in Southern India). That was kind of odd to me, so I figured that internal “huh” made it worth making again.
Yup, I was right. Make this rice. Make this rice over the biryani, Bangladeshi and the red rice. This one is the best. I didn’t even need to add cilantro. I mean, I did, but I consumed copious amounts of it before I added it. I COULD NOT HELP MYSELF.
Same with the beef curry. The original recipe called for beef stew chunks, but I was in a ground beef mood, and the plus of using ground beef is that it cooks much faster. As for this spice combo- again, it was a bit odd. Fennel? I use that in breakfast sausage. Does it really belong in curry? Chili powder? Wouldn’t that overpower the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon? Yes and no. Again, I COULD NOT HELP MYSELF.
I had to tell myself to PUT THE SPOON DOWN AND WALK AWAY lest I eat it all right then and there.
It was after making these two recipes that I realized this: it’s the ultra-unique spice combinations that push Sri Lankan food above and beyond the curries of India and the coconut soups of Thailand. They’re unexpected, and because the spices all hail from such different areas on the taste spectrum, it’s almost like Sri Lankan food combines the best of all. The list of ingredients may seem long, but it is this long list that makes it amazing. That’s probably also why the Rich Cake is the best fruit cake you’ll ever eat.
I’m coming to the conclusion quickly that Sri Lankan food is just the best….
Recipes adapted from Rutabaga’s family
- 2 TB coconut oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ TB fresh ginger, chopped
- 4” lemongrass, thinly sliced
- 2” pandan leaf
- 4 curry leaves
- 4 cloves
- 4 cardamom pods
- 5 whole peppercorns
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- ½ cup lite coconut milk
- ½ TB saffron strands
- 1 ½ cup water
- In a medium saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, pandan leaf, curry leaves, cloves, cardamom and peppercorns. Fry, stirring continuously to prevent burning.
- Add the rice and stir to ensure each grain is coated. Pour in the liquids and add the saffron.
- At this point I put the above into a rice cooker until it was done. If you don’t want to do that, cover and cook on high until boiling. Lower the heat and cook, covered, on moderate heat until rice is done, about 20 minutes.
- You can add raisins if you like, but I don’t like.
- 1 lb lean ground sirloin
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 inch piece of ginger
- 6 curry leaves
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 2 TB chili powder
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ½ cup water
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1" cinnamon piece
- 2 cloves
- 2 cardamon cloves
- Toast the whole spices in a dry skillet until fragrant. Grind into a fine powder. I used a mortar and pestle, and broke the pestle with my awesome strength (kidding. I dropped it and it broke).
- In a deep sauté pan, heat 2 teaspoons of oil. Add garlic and ginger,
- After frying for a minute, add onions, curry leaves and spices. Fry onions until transparent.
- Add the beef, breaking apart with a wooden spoon. Stirring until mostly cooked.
- When the beef is browned, add the coconut milk and water. Reduce the heat to a medium -low flame and cook for another 20 minutes until beef is cooked.