This is really three recipes in one. The first part of the recipe is the Ceylon curry powder, which is used as the main spice blend for this dish. The second part is the curry itself and the third is coconut rotis that the curry is served with.
Ceylon curry powders can vary depending on the spices you put in them. You can easily buy them ready mixed online, but if you have a spice grinder or suitable blender (I use a spice attachment that came with my Kenwood blender) you can create some divine-tasting spice blends. The trick to bringing out the best flavour from your spices is to use whole spices and toast them before you grind them, which you achieve by putting them in a hot, dry pan until they have released their aroma. It’s important to note that different spices take different times to toast, so if you try to cook them altogether you will have some underdone and some overdone. Rather than toasting them all separately, what I do is add the spices at different times to the same pan, so that the ones that take longer go in first, followed by the quickest ones at the end. It is very easy to burn the spices, so you must keep an eye on them during cooking.
The curry powder recipe here makes enough for about 3 of these dishes and will keep in an airtight jar for about 3 months.
This recipe uses vegan chicken, which not everybody likes using. I’m personally quite the fan of some of the products that are on the market now, but if it really isn’t your thing just replace it with another vegetable, like mushrooms, aubergines or squash. This is also a good dish to make with my Homemade Seitan Recipe.
Coconut rotis are easy flatbreads to make and require no yeast or proving. Resting for 30 minutes after kneading to allow the baking powder to do its work will be quite sufficient to achieve great tasting and light bread. Desiccated coconut is mixed in with bread flour, coconut oil and salt. A handful of fresh, chopped coriander gives them an additional fresh taste.
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Sri Lankan Style Vegan chicken and Courgette Curry with Coconut Rotis
For the Ceylon Curry Powder:
- 2 cinnamon sticks broken into pieces
- 20 black peppercorns
- 4 tbsp coriander seeds
- 10 whole cloves
- 4-5 whole dried red chillies stalks removed
- 10-12 whole curry leaves
- 3 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 4 tsp black mustard seeds
For the Coconut Rotis:
- 320 g bread flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 50 g desiccated coconut
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- A small handful of fresh coriander chopped
- Enough water to form a dough about 100ml
- Oil for frying the rotis
For the Curry:
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 2 medium courgettes diced
- 160-200 g vegan chicken pieces I used What the Cluck
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 inch piece ginger peeled and chopped
- 150 g baby tomatoes halved
- 3 heaped tbsp of the Ceylon curry powder see above
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 flat tsp salt
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 3 heaped tbsp Greek style vegan yoghurt
- 2 green chillies deseeded and chopped
- A handful of fresh coriander roughly chopped
- 1 can coconut milk
- Salt to taste
- A little cooking oil for frying
- 6 baby tomatoes halved
- 1 green chilli sliced
- A small amount of chopped coriander
- The first thing to do is make the spice blend. To do this, heat a dry frying pan over a low-medium flame. When it is hot enough, add the cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, peppercorns and cloves and toast them for approximately 2 minutes. Move them often in the pan so that they are fully toasting and not just on one side. Now add the chillies and the curry leaves and toast those for another minute or so. Finally put in the rest of the seeds and give them another 2 minutes, keeping a constant eye on them. You will smell a spicy, nutty aroma and the smaller seeds will begin to pop and crackle in the pan. Let this happen for a couple of seconds and them turn off the heat. Immediately transfer the seeds to a cold plate to stop the cooking process. Allow the seeds to fully cool before grinding.
- When the seeds are cold, run them through your grinder or blender, until you have a quite fine powder (you may need to do this in batches). Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
- Make the coconut rotis at this point so that they will have time to rest while you make the curry.
- Put the flour, baking powder, salt and coconut into a mixing bowl and rub in the coconut oil, until it is fully incorporated. Stir in the coriander and then pour in the water. Stir through again and then knead with your hands for about 5 minutes to stretch the dough. Cover and leave to rest until you are ready for it.
- Now you can start making the curry. Heat the coconut oil in a medium saucepan or wok and cook the onion and courgettes for 8-10 minutes, until they have softened. Add the vegan chicken pieces (or whatever vegetable you are using) and cook for another 8-10 minutes, until everything has browned nicely.
- Put in the garlic, ginger and the baby tomatoes, stir this through and cook for a couple of minutes, until the flavours are released and the tomatoes have slightly softened.
- Now it’s time to build up the curry. Add the 3 heaped tablespoons of the Ceylon curry powder you made earlier, as well as the teaspoon of ground turmeric and the salt. Cook the spices for 3-4 minutes to release their flavours, then put in the peanut butter and yoghurt. Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring often.
- Finally put in the green chillies and the coriander and pour in the coconut milk. Bring it all to the boil and gently simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring from time to time, until you have a thick curry sauce.
- While the curry is simmering it is time to cook the rotis. Place the dough onto a floured surface, roll it into a sausage shape and divide it into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and then use a rolling pin to create a flat round about the size of a saucer, and about 3mm thick.
- Heat a frying pan or skillet and add a little cooking oil. Cook each roti, on a medium-high heat, for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until the bread is risen and browned. You can keep them warm in a low oven while you are cooking the rest.
- To serve, heat a little more oil in your frying pan and cook the baby tomato halves and the sliced chilli together for a couple of minutes, until soft.
- Serve the curry with cooked rice and the freshly cooked rotis. Top with the fried tomatoes and chillies and a little fresh coriander.
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