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Last Easter we spent two glorious weeks travelling through Sri Lanka. It was one of the best trips we have ever been on. Beautiful scenery, lovely people and simply exquisite food! Packed with flavour, primarily coconut and curry leaves, Sri Lankan cuisine very quickly soared to amongst our favourites with wonderful dishes we make for ourselves regularly.
We ate some truly stunning fish dishes whilst in Sri Lanka, but by far the most memorable were the vegetable dishes and curries. Incredible variety in spice, flavour, freshness and warmth and, perhaps best of all, VEGAN.
Coconut milk and oil is used extensively in place of any form and dairy and the dishes are so much richer for it. They really reinforced the idea for us that vegan eating needn't be seen as a chore and certainly should never be boring.
In fact, we were so in love with the flavours of Sri Lanka that upon returning to the UK we instantly started working to recreate some of our favourite dishes we experienced there.
These are among our favourite Dishes we experienced during our time there which we have recreated with our own little twists here and there but stayed largely loyal to the glorious flavours of one of our favourite countries to date.
Before travelling to Sri Lanka we were already huge lovers of Dhal so we had high hopes for this dish. To say it exceeded expectations would be a grave understatement. Sri Lankan Dhal is loaded with coconut milk which gives it a really luxurious, rich and creamy texture without diminishing the heady taste of fragrant spice and curry leaves. What’s more, because it’s made using red lentils, this Dhal cooks in a fraction of the time of many others and you can have this vegan beauty ready to serve in half an hour if pushed!
We have served this with a Chilli Tempered - kind of like a fried chilli oil so that you can spike your daal with spice as you like.
Aubergine is one of our absolute favourite vegetables so it will come as no surprise to learn that the aubergine curries we tried in Sri Lanka were amongst our most loved. Traditionally the aubergine would be deep fried before being added to the pan. In this recipe we have opted to roast the aubergine with curry powder instead as it both feels like a healthier alternative but also helps to layer flavour into the aubergine flesh. The slightly smoky flavour from the aubergine is married with a salty, sweet and sour sauce that just coats the aubergine and is certain to be a new favourite once you’ve tried.
We’ve served ours with a coconut and chilli sambal to add extra spice if needed!
Rich, spicy curries of squash were a real mainstay throughout our time in Sri Lanka and were consistently excellent. Most commonly was a sweet and spicy curry made with a type of native pumpkin. We have opted to recreate our own version using Butternut, both because it is one of our favourite ingredients but also because it brings similar sweetness to balance the fierce spice. The squash provides a really hearty almost meaty curry, making this vegan dish perfect for the hungriest of diners.
We’ve topped ours with spicy devilled cashews for some extra texture.
What better way to enjoy any one of our delicious Vegan Sri Lankan Curries than with a delicious Coconut Roti. These were served at virtually every meal we experienced in Sri Lanka and are a favourite of ours to make at home due to their deliciousness and simplicity to make.
The desiccated coconut and coconut milk really come through to flavour these flatbreads with a taste of Sri Lanka whilst balancing against the fiery chilliest folded through the dough. Try them for yourself and become as hooked as we are.
We hope you enjoy these curries as much as we do and inspire you to tackle vegan eating. More so we really hope that they may inspire you to visit Sri Lanka. A wonderful culture, beautiful country and fabulous food.