A taste bud tantalising Sri Lankan dish
As the date comes closer we are getting more and more excited about returning to beautiful Sri Lanka for a sunshine yoga holiday next year, a relaxing and energising retreat in the peak of winter. I thought we might share this recipe to get you in the mood for some beach time, a delicious Sri Lankan inspired prawn curry with spices galore to support your immune system through these wintery months. I also love cardamom because when I was growing up in Kenya and Thailand I used to drink cardamon milk and I loved it.
A few interesting facts about cardamons
Although completely non-food related I thought this might be an interesting piece of information for people, I walked in this mountain range with my father as a Child but did not, until now, know the name of the area.
The Cardamom Mountains are a range of mountains found in Cambodia on the border with Thailand, the Cambodian side has a fairly intact forest with a very small but very poor human population. The area is said to shelter 62 globally threatened animal species and 17 globally threatened tree species. Within the forests live the largest population of elephants in Cambodia and possibly in all of Indochina although to prove this further research needs to be carried out.
Now back to the cardamom plant…
1. The cardamom pod which we use for flavouring food is in fact a fruit that grows on a plant closely related to that of ginger. There are two different types of “true cardamom”, Mysore and Malabah. The prior is usually sold green and the latter usually a more whitened colour.
2. Cardamom is the third most expensive spice after saffron and vanilla, as a result it is often associated with festivities. Although cardamom was mentioned in the old testament it did not seem to reach Europe until the middle ages. Now Scandinavian consumes a massive 10% of the worlds produced cardamom, mostly in their baked goods.
3. Cardamom is used for its medicinal properties in the East but not in the West. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat ulcers, digestive problems and depression.
4. In traditional medicine cardamom, like clove, is used as a local anaesthetic. Other applications include using cardamom as a carminative, an expectorant, a digestive, a stimulant, antispasmodic and as an antiseptic.
5. The volatile essential oils in cardamom inhibit the growth of viruses, bacteria, fungus, and mould, therefore is often used in the treatments of common colds and flu. Some trials have show promise in the treatment of cancer though encouraging apoptosis (cell suicide) although further testing will be needed before this can be proven.
6. The word cardamom comes from the Arabic “to warm”
Sri Lankan prawn curry
– Raw king prawns shelled and de-veined – enough for 2 people, so depending on size 4-6 per person
– 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
– ½ medium chopped onion
– ½ teaspoon turmeric
– ¼ tsp cardamom seeds or ground cardamom if you cant find seeds
– ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (not ground fenugreek)
– 2 inches cinnamon sticks
– 5 fresh curry leaves (or the equivalent dried and crumbled)
– 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
– 3 cloves garlic, grated or very finely chopped
– 2 oz crumbled creamed coconut
– 1 teaspoon chilli powder
– 5 fl oz water
– 1 pinch of salt
– ½ lemon (unwaxed, juice of)
– Heat the pan on a medium heat, once it is hot add the oil.
– Meanwhile, make sure the other ingredients are organised, as timing is everything and you definitely don’t want to burn anything and have to start again! So, once oil is hot, fry the onions until lightly browned and softened. Add the turmeric, fenugreek seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, curry leaves, ginger and garlic and fry for 1 min.
– Add the coconut, chilli powder, water and salt and bring slowly to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until the coconut is dissolved.
– Add the prawns and bring back to the boil then lightly simmer until the prawns are just cooked, you will be able to see this as the colour will change from a shiny grey to a lovely coral pink colour. Don’t overcook – prawns get chewy VERY easily.
– Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and serve along with some delicious brown basmati rice sprinkled with coriander leaves and a raw tomato and coriander salsa (I like to throw in some mint to freshen the dish and give it a slightly different edge).
For more of these tasty Sri Lankan delicacies, join AdventureYogi on our yoga holidays in Sri Lanka – we jet off to this magical island every winter!