(using MAGGI Coconut Milk)
By Yashasvi Kannangara
There are those nostalgic kind of days when you recall your grandmother’s cooking. A typically Sri Lankan Kalu Pol Curry slow cooked in a clay pot over wood fire. But unlike the yesteryears, the lives of working women today have become hectic and fast-paced. We are hardly left anytime for breaking open a fresh coconut, scraping its contents and afternoon to myself, I often find myself substituting MAGGI Coconut Milk instead of making my own coconut milk at home, and it works perfectly while saving me a lot of time and effort in the kitchen.
Kalu Pol directly translates to ‘black coconut’. Freshly grated coconut and grains of rice are charred on a skillet and ground to a powder to flavour and thicken local curries. These curries are a specialty among the local community and are loved by all. So this is my recipe for a traditional Sri Lankan pumpkin curry. You could have it with flat breads, rice and rottis. I particularly like it with a plate of red kekulu rice. The flavour is bold and the fragrance tempting. Even if you’re an absolute carnivore like my husband, you wouldn’t really be able to say no to it. So give it a go and make sure you get yourself good yellow local pumpkin. They have very firm, dry flesh and lend themselves well to savoury dishes.
What you need:
- 1 small or a quarter of a large Yellow Pumpkin diced into large chunks
- 1 Red Onion, sliced finely
- 2 Dried Red Chillies, chopped
- 6 cloves Garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp grated Ginger
- 1 cup thick Coconut Milk (Mix 2 tbsp MAGGI Real Coconut Milk Powder to 1 cup of warm water and mix well)
- 3 tsp Curry Powder
- 1/4 tsp Chilli Powder
- 1/2 tsp Cumin powder
- 2 tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1 Sprig Curry Leaves
- A piece of Pandan
- A piece of Cinnamon
- Salt to taste
For the Kalu Pol mixture
- 2 tbsp Desiccated Coconut
- 2 tbsp raw short grain White Rice
- Boil the diced pumpkin until a toothpick inserted pierces the flesh easily.
- Roast the desiccated coconut and raw rice in a separate skillet until they are well roasted and slightly blackened.
- Using a small mortar and pestle grind them together until a grainy powder forms.
- Add coconut oil to a heated clay pot. Add garlic, curry leaves and red chilli and saut until lightly browned.
- Next add the chopped onion, cinnamon and pandan leaf and saut for a minute more.
- When the onion becomes translucent, add the curry powder, chilli powder, cumin powder and salt, and mix well with other ingredients.
- Reduce the flame and add the cooked pumpkin to the pan and stir well in order to coat the pumpkin with the spice mix.
- Next, add in the coconut milk, stir once and let the curry come to a slow boil.
- While stirring continuously (take care not to squash the pumpkin – pun intended), add the roasted and ground Kalu Pol mixture. Stir well.
- Let the curry thicken in low heat (15-20) mins and serve warm with rice and curry.
*chef’s note: take care not to overcook the pumpkin when boiling. Let the flesh have some firmness. If it yields too quickly it will become too soft in the end.