Sri Lankan Carrot Curry

I had to take a little break from the 30 days of Sri Lankan vegan posting because we had too much food and had to eat some before I could cook more. 🙂 But we’ve eaten it all now, so I’m back, and Jed’s coming to visit tomorrow, and he’s mostly vegetarian, so we should be able to eat through it faster for a bit…

Carrot curry is one of the first things I learned to cook — very simple, very tasty. If you’re not vegan, we typically eat this with beef curry; they pair very well together. For a vegan meal, you might try this with a spicy chickpea or jackfruit dish.


Sri Lankan Carrot Curry

(20 minutes, serves 4)

3 medium onions, chopped
3 TBL vegetable oil
1 T ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 Thai green chilies, chopped fine
1/2 tsp black mustard seed
1/2 tsp cumin seed
six large carrots, sliced into thin coins
1 rounded tsp salt
1/2 t. turmeric
1 cup coconut milk (can use milk instead, but be extra careful not to curdle)

1. Sauté onions in oil on high with mustard seed, cumin seed, and ginger until onions are golden. Add garlic, carrots and salt. Cook on medium-high, stirring frequently, until carrots are cooked through.

2. Stir in coconut milk and turn heat down to low; simmer until well-blended, stirring constantly. Serve hot.

A Standard Colorful Vegetable Poriyal

Cooking from yesterday — this is just a standard vegetable poriyal (you’ll find the base recipe in both Feast and Vegan Serendib). Sauté onions, garlic and ginger with cumin and mustard seed and curry leaves in vegetable oil, add chopped small veggies of your choice, salt and usually turmeric, but I actually skipped the turmeric this time, because I was just loving the colors of this so much, and I wanted to keep them nice and bright.

Little purple fingerling potatoes, bright orange carrots, green pea pods. So pretty. 🙂

Sri Lankan Grilled Vegetables

The same Sri Lankan-inspired marinade that I use on meat works well for veggies too. Efficient. 🙂 And as a bonus, the veggies don’t need marinating for any length of time — you can just coat them and grill.

Remember that veggies cook at different speeds, so if you’re mixing them on skewers, be careful about adjusting size of the pieces so they cook the optimal amount.

Of these, I thought the eggplant, mushroom, bell pepper and ripe jackfruit worked best. (You can grill eggplant and mushroom on skewers together, and bell pepper and ripe jackfruit on skewers together. Ripe jackfruit is delicate, so be sure to oil the grill well, and turn skewers with care.).

The green jackfruit and the zucchini didn’t have as much inherent flavor as the other vegetables, so they were a little boring — but tasty once dipped in the yogurt sauce! (I’d expect summer squash to behave the same way as zucchini.) All nice with toasted naan.

To make this vegan, just use vegan mayo and yogurt, and skip the Worcestershire sauce.

zest of 2 limes
4 large garlic cloves, finely grated
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. plain whole-milk yogurt
3 T lime juice
1 t. salt
1/3 c. ketchup
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
2 t. Sri Lankan curry powder
1-2 t. cayenne
3 T vegetable oil (plus more for grill)
veggies of your choice, cut for skewers
naan bread

1. Make sauce: In a large bowl, whisk lime zest, garlic, mayonnaise, yogurt, and 2 t. of the lime juice in a large bowl to combine, add salt to taste. Transfer 1/2 c. of sauce to small bowl for serving; cover and chill until you’re reading to eat.

2. Make marinade: Whisk into the remaining sauce the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, curry powder, cayenne, and remaining lime juice. Add veggies, toss to coat.

3. Prepare grill for medium-high heat; oil grate. While grill is heating, remove veggies from marinade, letting any extra drip back into the bowl; thread veggies onto metal skewers, spacing slightly apart.

4. Grill kebabs, turning a few times, until browned and cooked through, 6-10 minutes (varies depending on the vegetable, so keep an eye on them). Lightly toast pita on grill, and serve kebabs with reserved yogurt sauce.

Curry powder recipe here:

Lime-masala mushrooms

I don’t have a recipe for this yet — it’s a fusion dish I made up for the launch party I held at Alex and Christa‘s house last month, and I was doing feast cooking for a big crowd, so a little too frenetic to stop and write down measurements for recipes. But I wanted to post this, mostly to remind myself to make it again at some point and write it up, because it was VERY popular.

Essentially, it’s my lime-masala mushrooms (recipe in Feast), but with added cashews, and cooked down with heavy cream instead of coconut milk. If you’re looking for a decadent vegetarian dish that ALSO packs a decent amount of protein, here you go. 🙂
You could also do it with coconut milk, of course, and vegan butter, if you wanted to do a vegan version.

(Did you know that you can buy signed copies of Feast from me directly, now on sale, AND add on curry powder (or masks) if you’d like? If not, now you know:…/a-feast-of-serendib…)

A Family Challenge

I’ve been thinking about the fact that I’m putting together this vegan cookbook, but I’m not actually vegan myself. Also about the fact that Anand is very tender-hearted and leans vegetarian, and I want to support him in that.

I know a lot of people do Meatless Mondays; I’m not sure I’m organized enough for that with our family’s meals. But I think we can probably do one vegan day / week as a family challenge.

Anyone interested in trying that with us for the next month or two? Would be easier with company. 🙂 I’d try to post regularly what we’re eating on that day, and would love to get inspiration from what others eat.

Sometimes My Cooking Isn’t so Fancy

When I was working on the keerai (spinach) pittu recipe last week, I needed a curry to go with it. Jed was still visiting then, so I went for something vegetarian — I was also trying to use up various tired veggies in the fridge. This is a really basic approach to a default Sri Lankan vegetable curry. (It’s usually referred to as a ‘white’ curry there, because it doesn’t contain red chili or turmeric, though it’s actually more of a light tan.)

Step 1 — Chop onions (always step 1 for curries). If you’re feeling energetic, add in some chopped ginger and garlic. Heat oil and sauté with mustard seed, cumin seed, and salt until onions are golden-translucent. Add pepper if you want; if you like fenugreek or fennel seed, feel free to stir some of those in too. (If you put in lots of fenugreek, which is a galactagogue, white curries are traditional preparations for nursing mothers.)

Step 2 — Sauté. Add in whatever veggies you like, based on cooking time — root vegetables cut small and added at least 10 minutes before softer veggies like bell peppers or eggplant. I had some green chilies, tired shredded carrots, chopped sugar snap pea pods, curry leaves, and I’m not sure what else got tossed in. 🙂

Step 3 — Add some water and simmer a bit ’til veggies are cooked through. Taste and see if you’d like a little lime juice for balance — I usually do. You could stop and eat it at this point.

Step 4 — If you’d like it a little more rich (recommended), add in a can of coconut milk (or cow / goat / etc. milk is fine too) and simmer, stirring, until well blended. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Step 4 — For added heft, boil some eggs, slice in half, and slip those in too. Yum.

Decorative Leaves

I pulled some greens from the garden to show examples of what else you could sambol — curly kale, dinosaur kale, rainbow chard — and of course, I now have kale sambol coming out of my ears, having made multiple versions of it for this morning’s TV thingie, so I decided that for now, these leaves can be decorative instead.

(We’ll probably still eat them tomorrow. )

I Survived Cooking on Live TV

Sunday brunch segment at WGN, our local station. Shout-out to Kavi who got up at 7 a.m. (very early for a teenager) to be my videographer, and who did TikTok dances behind the iPad to make me laugh and calm me down while I was waiting for them to start.

I am not sure I’ve ever been that nervous in my life — my hand was literally shaking when I started cutting the onion, and good thing I was prepping beforehand, so I could pause and steady myself. I’ve been on live TV a few times before — once for a town hall about sex and the internet, twenty+ years ago, and twice to talk about books on the summer reading segment on local TV.

So why so nervous this time? I think I’m not as confident about cooking as I am about books! I’m just a home cook, no culinary training, etc. But I think it basically went fine — I got in most of what I wanted to say, and I actually managed to cook a little too. But boy, 4 minutes goes REALLY fast.

Kavi’s even cleaning the kitchen for me now while I collapse on the couch. Best daughter.

(Addendum — I wore a kurta top I picked up at Selyn in Sri Lanka and my Sri Lankan 24K gold hoop earrings that my parents bought me when I was little, for good luck. Purple hair is Midnight Tanzanite by Splat! )

(And thanks to Pam Whitehead for building me a beautiful kitchen to cook in!)

Link to episode:…/wgn-weekend-…/sunday-brunch-kale-sambol/

Calm, Mary Anne. Calm

A little chaotic today, trying to prep for the TV show tomorrow (I’ll be on live TV, WGN’s Sunday Brunch segment, around 7:35 or so, teaching how to make kale sambol), while also attending ReconveneSFF convention (on a Wild Cards panel in a few hours), and also get the new 100 days challenge kicked off on my fitness group AND start a new writing accountability group, with a 100 days challenge too. It’ll all be fine, but it feels like a LOT of moving parts. 

Morning cooking was carrot and green bean curry, which I’m planning to have out on the counter tomorrow, as something you might include in a Sri Lankan meal, along with kale sambol.

Carrot curry was a staple of my early cooking and got me through a lot of grad school, sometimes alternated with green bean curry — at some point, I decided to try putting them together, since the cooking method is almost identical, and yup, I like it. 

Just cook the carrots for a while first, so they’re almost cooked through, then add the green beans and cook for a few minutes more. Yumyum.…/…/09/sri-lankan-carrot-curry/

Okay, going to go color my hair now, and then I need to prep the beef smoore, and test-run the actual video, and and and….well, we’ll see. One step at a time. Calm, Mary Anne. Calm.