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.
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” style=”border:none;width:104px;height:15px” /></a>