It’s been challenging to come up with fun breakfast items on the Asia side of the world. Not everyone wakes up to a spread of waffles, pancakes, eggs and sausages like we U.S. folks do, and as adventurous I may be, I just can’t stomach a steaming bowl of pho or daal first thing in the morning.
Today I’m giving you that lingering Sri Lankan dish, and I’m telling you that it was definitely worth the wait.
When I first asked Rutabaga for his Sri Lankan favorites, he got more excited telling me about the koththu roti than any other of the fantabulisticulous dishes I made last week. And, whenever I ask my wonderfully diverse group of friends for their favorite “home” dishes, I feel a self-imposed pressure to make it. Therefore, I was eating kothuthu roti.
According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, koththu roti is like a stir-fry of sorts with chopped roti, vegetables, egg, and/or meat, and spices. Kothu can be found in almost all parts of Sri Lanka and is generally eaten for dinner. And, while this used to be a cheap, takeaway meal for lower socioeconomic classes, it has now become almost a staple diet for those of upper socioeconomic classes as well. If you try it, you’ll wonder why those upper class hoity-toits would ever snub their noses at any food, first of all, but especially one as mouth-watering as this one.
The original recipe that Rutabaga provided was for a chicken koththu roti, but required roasting a whole chicken to use. I didn’t want to do this for two reasons: first, I made a roast two weeks ago for St. Patrick’s Day week and didn’t want to make another so soon. Second, I wanted to pare down the recipe to two servings and a whole chicken was just too much food. I had planned to just do this as a vegetarian dish, but realized that the flavor sort of relies on a bit on pan drippings, so I just used a couple pieces of bacon that I had on hand. You can clearly omit this if you choose, and afterwards I realized this would have been fine without the bacon. But, everything is better with bacon, IMO. The bacon and egg combo tasted very breakfast to me, so I’m putting it in that box.
Finally, the roti. I’ve made roti before, but this one is different since it’s 1) gluten- and egg-free 2) includes coconut. I remembered while making this that roti is so easy to make and really doesn’t lead to a very messy kitchen thanks to some parchment.
I actually had some of these as the bread holding together a very awesome Fried Green Tomato BLT last week, and I just might have to make an extra batch to keep on hand in the freezer should a sandwich emergency arise. Making these from scratch at home ensures I have some gluten, diary, egg and yeast free bread choices, making my tummy oh-so-happy.
Thanks again, Rutabaga, for the recipes.
First, make the Sri Lankan-style coconut roti
Makes about 8 rotis:
2 cups gluten-free flour mix (you can use all-purpose as well)
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup freshly grated, unsweetened coconut
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coconut oil, plus more for the pan
1 flax egg (1 TB ground flax seed + 3 TB water) or 1 real egg
Approx.. 2 cups water, more or less
1. Mix the flour, baking powder, coconut and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the melted coconut oil until evenly distributed. Add the egg and sufficient water to bind the mixture into a stiff dough (I went a little less stiff since I knew I’d be adding more flour to roll them out). Knead until the dough forms a ball and doesn’t stick to the bowl.** Rest the dough for 30 minutes.
2. Once the dough has set, break of chunks approximately 2-3 TB large and roll into balls using your hands. Roll the balls into circles.
3. Cook each roti on a well-greased griddle or cast iron skillet until brown, flipping to do each side.
**I threw everything into my food processor equipped with the dough blade and it came together very nicely.
For the kothuthu roti
2 slices good, thick-cut bacon, coarsely chopped
2 curry leaves
2 whole cloves
1 cardamom pod
1” cinnamon stick
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
½ head Napa cabbage, coarsely chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and julienned
2 Rotis, chopped
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 medium eggs, beaten
3 TB lite coconut milk
Green onions, to garnish
1. In a large skillet, add the bacon. Let it cook and add the cloves, cinnamon stick, curry leaves and cardamom. Let the fat render down. When the bacon has cooked, remove from the pan, and drain all but about 1 tsp of the fat and leaving the spices.
2. To the bacon grease, add the jalapenos and cabbage, coriander, turmeric, ginger, chili powder and red pepper flakes, and cook on moderately high heat until the cabbage has wilted down and soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the chopped roti and cook another 20 minutes.
3. Beat the eggs and coconut milk together. Make a little well in the cabbage mixture and add the beaten eggs and cook for another minute. Stir the egg mixture constantly to scramble, in a circular motion and gradually incorporate into the cabbage mixture. Ensure the eggs are evenly distributed and cooked. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately.
I loved this. LOVE. I may never flavor scrambled eggs differently again. Like all the Sri Lankan food, I COULD NOT STOP EATING IT. The roti was a nice addition and the wilted cabbage became indistinguishable from the rest of the eggs. I felt like I was just eating an obscene amount of eggs. I might just employ this tactic in the future so I can feel like I’m eating more than I actually am. Finally, I LOVED adding coconut rather than regular milk into the beaten eggs and added a creaminess akin to heavy cream. And we all know that heavy cream is why those French make the best scrambled eggs.
Now, I’m convinced that the Sri Lankans do it just as best.