Sri Lankan Cashew Curry

Sri Lankan Cashew Curry
Sri Lankan Cashew Curry

After a wonderful Sri Lankan meal at Sigiri in the East Village, I couldn’t get the savory, sweet, spicy cuisine out of my mind. A late-night search of local Sri Lankan restaurants yielded disappointing results (maybe I’ll see you someday, Sigiri in Edison, NJ) a well-researched though impulsive Sri Lankan cookbook purchase was the obvious next step. I had big weekend plans, and crossed my fingers that Amazon would deliver late Friday afternoon so I could spend the evening reading and plotting and ingredient list-making. Saturday morning I was up early, on bicycle with backpack and headed to a favorite Indian / Pakistani grocery for essentials.

I was also entertaining for the weekend, and the weather promised to be sunny, but brisk ; a perfect night to stay in and cook a Sri Lankan feast! By the end of the day, I had made a pickle, two chutneys, some festive coconut rice and five curries – far too much food for three, so I invited over a few more friends to round out the celebration.

One of our favorite curries that night was the cashew curry, pictured above. This curry is rich (in fat and flavor) and usually served in Sri Lanka for special occasions and celebrations. As a vegetarian curry, it is also served to Buddhist monks on holidays. While the cashew and coconut milk provide richness, spices and fresh curry leaves lend a savory balance to the gravy.

You can find numerous cashew curry recipes online, and nearly all call for soaking the cashews in water for one-eight hours ahead of time. You can by-pass this step with an aggressive boiling. I chose to boil mine until the water dried out of the pan, slightly roasted the cashews in the process and lending and extra nuttiness. You will need a lot of organic, unsalted cashews (at least two cups). I was lucky that my dear, visiting friends John and Laura happened to have a bag of cashews with them direct from Panama!  While the amount of “gravy” in the recipe can be adjusted to your liking, make sure you don’t let the curry cook too dry, as the savory coconut base is necessary to balance the entire dish.

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Above, some of the spices and essentials I purchased with plans to explore Sri Lankan cooking. Shout out to Patel Brothers – another favorite grocery – in Chicago!

<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/3/39585/restaurant/East-Village/Sigiri-NYC”><img alt=”Sigiri on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/logo/39585/minilogo.gif&#8221; style=”border:none;width:104px;height:15px” /></a>

What to do with green tomatoes?

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My tomatoes went wild this year, and let’s just say, I maintained a fairly “hands off” approach to the garden. As sad as I was to see those wild vines go, I had to rip them out this weekend or miss my fall crops entirely. While I love pickled green tomatoes, I don’t actually drink enough bloody mary’s to justify pickling the whole crop, so I did some research for nontraditional options. I did pickle a few, but went with an interesting, spicy szechuan version I found here:

 

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A few keys to pickling tomatoes: Only go with the very firm, unblemished tomatoes, and use a pickling additive, or you just won’t get those crisp pickles you’re looking forward to. Also, remember that while you can change the spice in pickles, you can’t change the acidity.And let them sit at least three weeks before you give them a try! 

Last weekend I had some amazing pimento cheese spread at Strangelove’s, and so I jumped on this recipe from NPR for green tomato and pimento cheese biscuits. Of course, I had change the recipe up a little bit, so I substituted pickled red cherry tomatoes for pimentos.

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I thought about salsa verde, another common use for green tomatoes, but the breezy fall day pushed me towards a green tomato chili. I made a green tomato puree, added kidney beans, and then decided to also ad some TVP (texturized vegetable protein). It’s not an ingredient I use very often, but I noticed that many green chili recipes make use of chicken or pork, and I thought that that TVP might give a similar texture. A dab of yogurt, some chili and a lemon zest, a squeeze of lime – delicious.

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Commonwealth Ciders – local, dry ciders have arrived

commonwealthIt’s Fall in Philadelphia! The air has finally begun to crisp, the leaves to turn, and I’m digging my cardigans out from storage. Fall means, apples, and apples mean, among other things, delicious cider. I love a cup of hot spiced cider when the weather cools, but the rest of the year, cider, especially the bottled, alcoholic kind, doesn’t make my “must have” list. I have nothing against fermented apples, in general, I just haven’t enjoyed the overly-sugared, cider-pops that I find on grocery shelves and neighborhood bar “anti-gluten” lists. It’s not the apples’ fault!

Recently, at a happy hour fundraiser for one of my favorite Urban Farms, Greensgrow, I had the pleasure to taste (and by taste I mean drink) a new local “dry” cider made by local brew heroes, Philadelphia Brewing Company. Rolling out under the name Commonwealth Ciders, these deliciously dry, apple-based beverages have NO ADDED sugar. What does that mean? For starters, drinking a Commonwealth Cider, vs. a Woodchuck or other standard sugared brand, is the difference between sipping a sparkling dry cava, and popping open a bottle of fizzy Moscato. Now, you might love a sweet fermented drink, but they’re just not for me, which is why I’m so excited to discover this new local option.

Even better? They come in a variety of flavors purely derived from the source – with no artificial flavors or sugars. The “Gregarious Ginger” blew my ginger-loving mind, and the Raspberry promised exactly what it delivered – a clean, dry, hot off the bush raspberry flavor. Of course, you can stick with the “Original Dry,” too, now appearing on tap across Philadelphia. And I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the gorgeous, boudoir-worthy brand concept.

The representative I spoke with promised cases at distributors by Fall — have you seen any yet?