Sri Lankan Pork Curry and Rice & Curry Cookbook Review

*Disclosure: I have not been compensated in anyway for the following review, these are my own opinions.*

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Last Friday I had the honor of sharing my interview with “Rice and Curry” cookbook author S.H. Fernando Jr. Today I want to share with you of his delicious recipes and my opinions on the cookbook.

Sri Lankan curry powder; curry powder; roasted; spices; spice mix; recipe; peppercorns; fennel seeds; turmeric; coriander seed; methi seed; fenugreek; curry leaves; cumin; black mustard; brown mustard; seeds; cardamom; green; rice; cinnamon; Spicie Foodie

I own a small collection of cookbooks, the majority of which only get used as reference. While I do enjoy flipping through and cooking from my cookbooks, very few get read cover to cover. Rice & Curry: Sri Lankan Home Cooking is one of the few I have read cover to cover. The cookbook’s byline says it all ” Sri Lankan Home Cooking”, that’s what this cookbook is all about. One of the things that immediately intrigued me about the cookbook is that the recipes all come from the author’s family. Recipes handed down, foods cooked every day by one large extended family in Sri Lanka. In my eyes that immediately equates excellent true and tried recipes.

Sri Lankan curry powder; curry powder; roasted; spices; spice mix; recipe; peppercorns; fennel seeds; turmeric; coriander seed; methi seed; fenugreek; curry leaves; cumin; black mustard; brown mustard; seeds; cardamom; green; rice; cinnamon; Spicie Foodie

I wasn’t patient enough to wait for a hard copy of Rice & Curry, instead I purchased the Kindle edition. I was instantly captivated with the vivid colors, stories, writing and recipes. Sri Lankan cuisine is one I know so little about, and of course one I’d never had the pleasure of tasting, I’m sure many of you can relate. As a matter of fact the author refers to this cuisine as  “one of the last culinary secrets of our time” I would have to agree with him. So little is know about it and yet this complex cuisine has so much to offer. After reading and drooling over the recipes and stories in  Rice & Curry I think Mr. Fernando makes a heck of an ambassador for Sri Lankan cooking.

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There are so many delicious recipes that it was a challenge picking one to share and a few to photograph for you. The first recipe I tried was Roasted Curry Powder, of course I opted for grinding my own curry spices. The smells were incredible, everything about preparing curry spices is wonderful. Once the Roasted Curry Powder was made I began planning our dinner. The dinner menu would be Yellow Rice (Kaha Bath), which not only looks pretty but tasted fantastic. On the side I served Spiced Potatoes (Ala Thel Dala), again these also tasted incredible. The main dish was Pork Curry (Ooroomas Curry) and that is the recipe I will be sharing wit you today. (I also made a pineapple chutney which was delicious but I forgot to photograph.)

Pork Curry (Ooroomas Curry)
recipe courtesy of Hippocrene Books, please do not print nor publish without prior written consent

The key to a good pork curry, according to the author’s Aunt Dora, is to cut the meat into thick chunks and leave all the fat on. “That is where the flavor is.” she says. Mr. Fernando adds, that the tamarind also adds a nice tangy note to the overall spiciness.

Makes 6 servings
1 tbsp tamarind pulp*
3 tbsp roasted curry powder (buy it here or make your own from the cookbook recipe)
2 lbs or 1 kl boneless pork
2 tsp cayenne pepper powder
2 tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2-inch or 5 cm piece ginger, ground
2-inch or 5 cm piece cinnamon stick
2-inch or 5 cm piece stalk lemongrass
2 green chilies, slice
1 sprig curry leaves
1.5 cups or 375 ml water
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup or 125 ml coconut milk
1 tbsp tomato paste

*You may use tamarind concentrate instead of pulp, in which case use only about 1/2 tsp as it is strong.

1. Soak tamarind in a little warm water, strain and remove seeds and fiber. Slightly toast curry powder in a pan for 2-3 minutes.
2. Wash and cut pork into 1-inch or 2.5cm cubes. Place in a bowl with curry powder, cayenne powder and tamarind and marinate for 30 minutes.
3. Heat oil in a pan. When hot fry onions, garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, lemongrass, green chilies and curry leaves for a few minutes.
4. Add marinated pork and stir-fry until browned. Slosh a little water in marinade bowl to release the remaining spice mixture and pour into pan. Add remaining water and salt and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until pork is tender, about 20-25 minutes.
6. Add coconut milk and tomato paste and simmer, uncovered until gravy is thick, about 15-20 minutes.

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To say that Rice & Curry is my current favorite cookbook is an understatement. There is so much to love about this cookbook, from the personal stories, Sri Lankan history, travel tips, spice tips and information, family recipes, to the sample menus suggestions for your Sri Lankan dinner party. The hard work and love that went into making Rice & Curry is evident in every page, it really is no wonder that it made The New York Time’s “Notable Cookbooks of 2011″ list. Simply put this cookbook is one everyone should have on their digital or wooden bookshelf.

Sri Lankan curry powder; curry powder; roasted; spices; spice mix; recipe; peppercorns; fennel seeds; turmeric; coriander seed; methi seed; fenugreek; curry leaves; cumin; black mustard; brown mustard; seeds; cardamom; green; rice; cinnamon; Spicie Foodie
“Sri Lankan cooking is poised to make a dramatic splash on the culinary horizon.” S.H. Fernando Jr. , I couldn’t agree more.

Purchase your copy of Rice & Curry  now
Rice and Curry

Check out S.H. Fernando’s own spice blends, called Skiz’s Original
Rice and Curry

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve missed the interview so I’m going to check after this, but this looks so delicious! I’ve never had Suri Lankan dish before, but I enjoy curry. Your photos are so gorgeous. Don’t know which one to pin… =)

  2. says

    What an awesome-looking curry! I love Sri Lankan food — they have these really interesting breads and condiments as well as curries that are quite different from Indian or Thai ones. Too bad it’s so hard to find in most of North America — I’ll have to check out this cookbook!

    • says

      Hi Felicia,

      Glad to hear you love Sri Lankan food. I haven’t made any of the breads yet. You should definitely check out the cookbook. Because even if there are spices you can’t find locally, you can order them online:)

  3. says

    i have a real love for Sri Lankan food, have tried cooking it often and live in a suburb where the ingredients are all accessible so you have my attention, the curry looks divine.

  4. says

    You know this is right up my alley! Your photos are outstanding…. now I have no excuse when I say it’s hard to photograph curry. :) Well done!

  5. says

    You have such a beautiful blog. I love this curry. I find the ingredients very similar to Indian food except I don’t use lemon grass in my curry even though I love the flavor.

  6. says

    this must be delicious! I have to try this one, will probably have to make a lot of substitutions because I don’t know where to get all the ingredients, but I bet it will still taste great! What can go wrong if you use coconut milk and lemongrass ;-) The photos are gorgeous, as usual, but that goes without saying :-)

    • says

      Thank you Renee! Keep working and you’ll meet your goals:) It took me a long time to get my photography like this and it’s an unending learning process.

  7. says

    mmm do you think a vegetarian version of this dish would work? i’m off the pig for now, but this recipe looks so flavorful.

  8. says

    Nothing beats freshly ground curry powder or garam masala. It elevates the flavours of a dish to a different level. The curry looks absolutely scrumptious and your clicks are beautiful as always :-)

    • says

      There really is something so amazing about all the complex flavors and how well they come together in curry. We are curry addicts in this house, hehe. Thank you:)

  9. says

    The book does sound amazing as does this dish. but your photos are just stunning. loving the dark moody feel myself lately. Such a nice change from the airy overexposed look that’s been so prevalent the last year or two.

  10. says

    Oh my… I’ve just started getting into curries, I’m a bit weird about them (very love/hate), but had a home-made Sri Lankan curry the other week that blew my mind. I tried this out hoping it would taste the same (with chicken, and 20 minutes in a pressure cooker), and it was incredible. I took a stab at making the roasted curry powder and it was very easy and made a huge difference. 5 stars, this is going the book as my staple curry dish, next time with pork!

    • says

      Hi Meghan,

      I’m so glad you tried Mr. Fernando’s recipe. But also so very impressed that you made the curry powder from scratch. Bravo!! You’ll love it with pork too. Thanks for stopping by and letting us know:)

  11. says

    I was googling for a Sri Lankan curry and fortuitously landed on your blog. Your writing style and photography have captivated me, which encouraged me to purchase your beautiful cookbook! I can’t wait until it arrives, allowing me to share in your eclectic recipe collection. In the meantime, I’m going to prepare Mr Fernando’s Ooroomas Curry that you featured, above, throwing in some beautiful Asian egglplants (purchased at Farmer’s Mkt yesterday, hence the search for an interesting curry…) So happy to have found you!

    • says

      Hi Pam,
      Welcome:) I know you’ll love the cookbook and this curry recipe. The hardest part will be to choose what to cook from the book first. Thank you and I hope to see you around:)

  12. says

    lovely photos, indeed Sri Lankan cuisine is unique. I’m a Sri Lankan food blogger. Nice to hear your opinion about my country food.

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