"Across many cuisines but especially in Asia, green (unripe) fruits are used as vegetables …used raw in the fresh green papaya and mango salads of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand; and used in pickles and chutneys in the subcontinent. When cooked, green fruit changes into something different again – like the incarnations and curries using jackfruit and green mango so popular in South East Asia and the subcontinent. This green mango curry is from Sri Lanka - the birthplace of chef O Tama Carey’s mother. When cooked, the green mango becomes soft and almost carbohydrate-like while still maintaining a natural sourness which O Tama says is balanced by the slight sweetness of the spicy mustard paste. She loves to chew on the seeds "and scrape the stringy mango flesh through my teeth” - a great recipe to eat with your hands!" Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth
Sweet, sour and spicy, this is a simple Sri Lankan curry that treats the mango more like a vegetable.
- 2 sour green mangoes
- 2 good pinches table salt
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- ½ tsp Nigella seeds
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp red rice
- 1 tbsp fresh or dessicated coconut
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 4 medium red Asian shallots, diced
- 2 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 7 g ginger (or equal to the amount of garlic), roughly chopped
- 1 lemongrass stalk white part only, roughly chopped
- 3 small green chillies, finely sliced
- 2 large sprigs curry leaves
- salt flakes and black pepper
- 2 tbsp Sri Lankan mustard (see recipe below)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 18 cm piece rampe (pandanus leaf) cut into 3
- 400 ml coconut milk
Sri Lankan mustard
- 200 g brown mustard seeds
- 4 medium garlic cloves
- 14 g ginger
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 60 ml (¼ cup) apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp hot chilli powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
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.
Soaking time overnight
To make the mustard, place the mustard seeds and 750 ml (3 cups) water in a bowl and stand to soak overnight.
The following day, roughly chop the garlic and ginger and place in a high powered blender. Strain the mustard seeds and add to the blender along with all the remaining ingredients and 2 tablespoons water. Blend until the mustard seeds are mostly broken down- it should all come together and be the texture somewhere between a wholegrain mustard and almost paste-like. Depending on the ferocity of your blender this may take a while and could involve a little start and stopping and scraping down of the sides. Once you are happy with the texture, have a taste and feel free to add any extra seasoning you desire, it should be spicy and hot. The mustard can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for a good few months.
For the curry, peel the green mangoes. Using a cleaver, cut each in half across the middle, then cut each piece into quarters from top to bottom, straight through the seed. Place the mango pieces in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Pour over enough cold water to cover and stand for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, dry roast the spices and rice together over low heat until you can start to smell their lovely aromatic scent. Remove from the heat and pour onto a plate. Add the coconut to the same pan and toast until golden, then add to the spices. Place the toasted spices, rice and coconut into a mortar and pestle and pound until you have a moist powder. Set aside.
Place a saucepan over medium heat. Allow it to warm a little, then add the ghee. Once the ghee has melted and starts to sizzle, add the shallot, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chilli and curry leaves and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes or until the shallot has softened.
Pull the mango pieces out of the soaking water and give them a little shake to get rid of any excess water, then add to the pan. Give them a moment in the pan, making sure you stir so they become nicely coated. Add the mustard, vinegar and sugar and stir through for 1-2 minutes. Add the spice mix, coconut milk and rampe, increase the heat a little and bring to the boil. Once your curry comes to the boil, turn it down to a gentle simmer, cover and let it cook away gently and undisturbed for about 5 minutes.
At this stage, have a look and a little taste of the curry. It should be starting to thicken and the flavour should be mustardy, sour, hot and a little sweet. Adjust the seasoning to your taste and let the mango cook for another 5-10 minutes, uncovered, to reduce the sauce a little. The curry is ready once there is a little give to the mango. Serve with rice as part of a banquet. Curry can be eaten straight away or re-warmed later.
• The mustard recipe will make more mustard than you need however it’s much easier to make on a slightly larger scale. It is a very handy condiment to have in your fridge to be used like you would any other mustard and will last for months.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Emma Warren. Creative concept by Belinda So.