Peter Kuruvita cooks food from the jungle with his recipe for bitter gourd and lotus root curries, served in a lotus leaf with local yam.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (23 votes)


  • 1 large yam, peeled, cut into 2 cm pieces
  • salt
  • grated coconut, to serve

Bitter gourd (karawila) curry

  • 2 bitter gourds, deseeded, thinly sliced
  • 3 tsp turmeric
  • 25 g ghee (clarified butter)
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ onion
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 handful curry leaves
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp roasted curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ½ lime or lemon, juiced

Lotus root (nelum ala) curry

  • 225 g lotus root
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 lotus fruit, seeded

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Place the yam and salt in a large pan over high heat. Cover with water and cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes, or until the yam is cooked through. Drain the yam and return to the pan. Cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the yam has fluffed up.

To make the bitter gourd curry, soak the gourd in a large pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of turmeric for a few minutes.

Heat the oil in a large pan and sautee the mustard seeds until the seeds splatter. Add the onion, garlic, curry leaves, fresh chilli, chilli powder, curry powder, remaining turmeric and cumin, stirring. Squeeze out the water from the gourd, add the gourd to the pan and stir well. Add the coconut milk. Cook until the gourd softens, stirring occasionally. Add the lime juice and season.

To make the lotus root curry, wash the lotus root and cut into small pieces. Place it in a pan and add the fenugreek, salt, turmeric, chilli powder, fresh chilli, tomato and coconut milk, and cook for about 10 minutes or until the lotus root is cooked. Add the lotus fruit seeds to thicken the curry.

Serve the yam with the curries, sprinkled with grated coconut.