Brunch at Priya’s

She was trying to serve a ‘light’ brunch, because we were going out to a fancy dinner that evening. This is our family’s idea of a ‘light’ brunch. 🙂

Also served with sliced bread, not pictured. Curry with pol (coconut) sambol and sliced bread is v. delicious, but you make the sambol a little differently to eat with bread, I think, if I was understanding my aunties correctly — more moist, maybe? It tasted different than Marina Aunty’s sambol the night better — both delicious.

Both of my aunties also chopped the pol sambol really finely, apparently with a ‘chopper’ that they promised to show me, but we never got around to it, so now I have to nag on Facebook — what is this magic chopper, Priya Vytheswaran?? I need a link!

Priya also served the curries with yams, and we got into a long conversation about what kind of yams they were (taro? manioc?), and what they were actually supposed to be, but I’ve now gotten them all confused in my head again. These are not the yams she was trying to find, I think.

There are many yams traditionally eaten in Sri Lanka, though, so I’m entirely unsure which ones she was aiming for. Here are some pretty photos, though:…/traditional-foods-in-sri…/

Unimpressed with Chicken-of-the-Woods Mushrooms

Well, this was a failure. I bought some Chicken-of-the-Woods mushrooms, and was excited to experiment with them, but I tried cooking them three different ways, and didn’t like any of them.

I chopped them small and sauteed them in butter (dry, no mushroom flavor), I tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper and grilled them (very dry, pretty much flavorless), and I curried them — Jed and I agree that everything else in the curry is tasty, but not the mushrooms.

I suppose if you’re looking for chicken texture, they sort of have that, but other than that, I’m afraid I’m unimpressed. I think there are a lot of better vegetarian options for texture. Did I do something wildly wrong with the preparation of these? Any of you really love the taste?

Black Pork Curry

Perfect dish for chilly autumn days — Sri Lankan Black Pork Curry. It’s not really black, but the tamarind does make it quite dark. Dark and delicious. 🙂

Locals, I picked up this pork shoulder from Carnivore Oak Park — it makes a sumptuous pork curry!


Black Pork Curry (1.5 hrs — serves 6-8)

This traditional tangy, peppery dish gets its dark color from the combination of dark roasted curry powder, tamarind paste, and lots of ground black pepper. Tamarind paste is typically fairly easy to find in Mexican and Indian markets, or you can order it online; it keeps well in the pantry for a long time, even after opening.

I keep a little jar of ground black pepper on hand for dishes like this; I buy strongly-flavored Tellicherry peppercorns from Penzey’s online, grind them in a coffee grinder I keep dedicated for spices (although you can use a regular coffee grinder if you clean it out thoroughly), and grind up a jar’s worth as needed. The flavor is much better than you’d get from the pre-ground black pepper at the grocery store.

Typically, you’d leave a good portion of the fat on the pork pieces; it soaks up a ton of flavor, and is truly delectable, balancing the meat, which can otherwise be a bit dry after long cooking. But you can trim all the fat off if you’d really prefer.

3 medium yellow onions, chopped fine
2 T ginger, chopped fine
4-5 garlic cloves, sliced
6-12 curry leaves (optional)
3 T vegetable oil
1/4 t. black mustard seed
1/4 t. cumin seed
1 T Sri Lankan curry powder
1 heaping t. salt
4 t. ground black pepper
3 lbs. pork shoulder, cubed, about 1 in. pieces, with some fat left on
3 t. tamarind paste

1/2 c. white vinegar

1. In a large pot, sauté onions, ginger, garlic, and curry leaves in oil on medium with mustard seed and cumin seeds until onions are golden/translucent (not brown), stirring as needed.

2. Add curry powder, salt, pepper, stirring to combine, then turn heat to high, add pork, and sear, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes, to bring out the flavor of the meat.

3. Add tamarind paste and white vinegar; stir well, turn heat to medium, and cover. Cook one hour, stirring occasionally. Serve hot, with rice or bread.