Here’s a flavorful vegetable curry from the tropical isle of Sri Lanka. A colorful array of healthy vegetables, simmered in coconut milk and beautiful spices. Top bowls of curry with cashew nuts for a hearty, tasty vegan main dish.
Sri Lanka sounds like a dream destination, a small tropical Island in the Indian Ocean, just south of India.
It’s tiny, just larger than the state of West Virginia, but has lots going on: lush forests, national wildlife parks with elephants and leopards, ancient temples, beautiful unspoiled beaches, tea plantations (Ceylon), and fiery flavorful curries that make use of delicious local spices, coconuts, and green chilies.
Curry and rice is the staple food of Sri Lanka. Though similar to the curries of neighboring India, Sri Lankan curries have a couple of stand-out qualities. Firstly, they tend to be startlingly hot. Disclaimer: my Sri Lankan vegetable curry recipe is toned down to my preferred level of heat, which is about medium – maybe not authentic, but I can’t taste food when my mouth is on fire. You can double or even triple up on the hot chilies if you want more burn.
Another unique feature of Sri Lankan curries is that layers of flavor are added at different stages of the cooking process. The first round of herbs, spices and aromatics form the base of the curry.
Another aromatic mix is fried up at the last minute and is stirred through the finished dish, to give it a fresh, exciting burst of flavor. It’s called tempering.
A sprinkle of cilantro leaves and some toasted cashews are a perfect finishing touch.
Here’s the recipe for Sri Lankan Vegetable Curry. If you make this please come back to leave a comment and a rating and let me know how you like it. Your comments are greatly appreciated.Print
Sri Lankan Vegetable Curry
A beautifully spiced vegetarian curry of cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and green beans, topped with toasted cashews and cilantro.
- Prep Time: 25 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 45 mins
- Yield: 4-5 1x
- Category: Lunch or Dinner
- Method: Sauté
- Cuisine: Sri Lankan
- 4 tablespoons cooking oil or ghee, divided
- 2 yellow onions, divided, one halved and sliced, one chopped
- 3 hot green chili peppers ( such as jalapeño) divided, 2 sliced in half lengthwise, 1 thinly sliced crosswise. Or double the chilies if you want to kick up the heat!
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided (4 medium cloves)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoons minced fresh ginger, divided
- 1 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken in half
- 8 whole cloves
- 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves (about 6–8 leaves on each) divided
- 2 tablespoons good Indian curry powder, such as Madras.
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 pounds yams or orange flesh sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 13-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk, shaken well before opening, divided
- 3/4 pound green beans, stem end trimmed off
- 6 cups of cauliflower florets (about 3/4 of a large cauliflower or a whole small cauliflower)
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 teaspoons brown or black mustard seeds
- 1 cup toasted cashews, to garnish
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, to garnish
- white or brown rice or naan
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil or ghee in a large heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add sliced onion, 1 tablespoon of the garlic, 1 tablespoon of the ginger, the two halved chilies, cinnamon, cloves and one sprig of curry leaves (about 7 leaves). Sauté everything, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes, until the onion starts to soften and everything is fragrant. Add curry powder (2 tablespoons), turmeric (1/2 teaspoon) and salt (1 teaspoon). Cook, stirring, for one minute or so, until fragrant.
- Add the sweet potatoes, water (1 1/2 cups) and 1/2 cup coconut milk. Cook for a minute or two, stirring with a wooden spoon, to coat the sweet potatoes, until the water starts to simmer. Add cauliflower and green beans. Stir, to coat, as you bring the pot to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just tender. Add the remaining coconut milk and cook, uncovered, for a minute or so, until hot. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Before serving remove cinnamon sticks. Curry leaves are edible but you might want to remove any that haven’t dissolved into the curry.
- Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil or ghee in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, the thinly sliced chili, the remaining 1 tablespoon garlic, the remaining 1 teaspoon ginger, mustard seeds (2 teaspoons), and 1 sprig of curry leaves. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or so, until the onion starts to brown. Stir the onion mixture into the finished curry or ladle the curry into bowls and spoon the onion mixture on top. Garnish bowls of curry with cilantro leaves and toasted cashews. Serve curry with white or brown rice or naan.
Keywords: spicy vegan vegetable curry