This deceptively modest dish derives its sweet yet tart flavour from cooking green mangoes until just tender in a typical Sri Lankan vegetable curry base of aromatics, mustard seeds, curry leaves, spices, and coconut milk. There’s some debate as to whether the mangoes should be peeled. Some argue that the peel adds a bitter flavour, while others insist that the traditional method is to leave them unpeeled and simply cut them into quarters, seed and all, thus adding to the texture of the dish. Some recipes also call for the addition of rampe (pandanus leaves), another essential in Sri Lankan cooking, but every home will have its own variation.
- 2½ tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds (see Note)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 10 curry leaves (see Note)
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
- 1 long green chilli, finely chopped
- 2 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder (see Note) or other curry powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 4 green mangoes (see Note), peeled, sliced into wedges
- 3 cardamom pods, bruised
- 2 cinnamon quills
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 200 ml coconut milk
- steamed rice and coriander sprigs (optional), to serve
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.
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add mustard seeds and stir for 30 seconds until they begin to pop. Add onion, curry leaves, garlic, ginger and green chilli, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until fragrant and light golden.
Reduce heat to low, add curry powder, turmeric and chilli powder, and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add green mango, cardamom, cinnamon and sugar, and stir to coat. Add 500 ml (2 cups) water, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until mango begins to soften. Remove lid and simmer for 8 minutes or until mango is just tender but still holds its shape.
Stir through coconut milk, then simmer for a further 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with steamed rice and coriander, if desired.
• Black mustard seeds and Sri Lankan curry powder are available from Indian and Sri Lankan food shops.
• Curry leaves and green mangoes are available from select greengrocers and Asian food shops.
Photography Brett Stevens. Food preparation Phoebe Wood. Styling Justine Poole.
As seen in Feast magazine, February 2015, Issue 39.