Sri Lankan Cuisine by Southeast Asian culinary maestro, Chef Will Meyrick

SEARCHING FOR SUBLIME SRI LANKAN CUISINE. For this issue, our resident Southeast Asian culinary maestro Chef Will Meyrick serves up his take on some of Sri Lanka’s tastiest culinary treasures.

Recently returned from a gastronomic odyssey in Sri Lanka, Chef Will Meyrick, master street food chef and mastermind behind two of Bali’s most beloved eateries, Sarong and Mama San, takes us on a culinary journey of fresh spices and surprisingly light finishes with his newest recipes.

Prawn curry
350 grams prawns, cleaned and shelled, heads intact
1 tablespoon dry ground chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons sliced garlic
1 stick cinnamon
1 stem fresh curry leaf, leaves only
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 cloves
2 1/4 tablespoons ground cardamom
1 lime, juiced
1 medium size tomato, chopped
1/2 red onion, peeled and chopped
2 large green chillies, chopped
250ml coconut milk
pinch of salt to taste
5 prawn heads, meat only
1 kitchen spoon thick coconut cream
To make the prawn paste, extract the meat from the prawn heads (keeping aside the bodies of the prawns for inclusion in the curry itself). Pound together the prawn head meat and coconut cream in a mortar and pestle to combine. Transfer the mixture to a blender and pulse lightly to create a paste. Set aside.
Lightly saute the red onion in a pan with a little oil until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom and cloves. Fry for about one minute until fragrant. Add in all the prawns and continue frying until they just start to color. Add in the turmeric and chili powder then stir to combine. Follow with the coconut milk, tomato and green chili while continuing to stir. Finish by adding the prawn paste and lime juice. Simmer for approximately two to three minutes until cooked through. Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve immediately with lightly stir fried kang kung and jasmine rice. Beetroot and bone marrow curry

Easy Sarong Twist
While it may seem like a surprising ingredient, prawn head meat is actually packed with flavor and so the prawn paste is a fantastic way of adding depth and intensity to the end result. Keeping the heads intact on the prawns in the curry helps to keep them juicy and allows all their delicious marine-essences to permeate the sauce. You’ll also be happy to hear that the heads are rich in antioxidants, so it’s not only delicious but really good for you too.

Beetroot and bone marrow curry
4 medium size beetroots, peeled
4 bone marrow bones
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
3 1/2 teaspoons light curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dry ground chili powder
1 cup chopped red onion
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 large green chili
8 ginger slices
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 stem fresh pandan leaf, leaves picked off
1 stem fresh curry leaf, leaves picked off
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 knob ginger, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
750ml fresh coconut milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Lightly saute the red onion in a pan with a little oil until soft and translucent. Add the fenugreek seeds, green chili, cinnamon, ginger and pandan leaves. Fry for approximately one minute until fragrant and then add the tomatoes. Stir to combine and cook for another minute until it starts to cook down.

Add in the beetroot pieces. Cook for approximately two to three minutes so that the flavors start to combine. Follow by adding in the bones. Continue to cook for another two to three minutes before adding the curry leaves, mustard, turmeric powder, light curry powder and chili powder. Coat the bones and beetroot thoroughly with all the spices and then add 500mls of the coconut milk. Stir to combine and then finish by adding in the white vinegar. Simmer on a medium heat for half an hour, continuing to add in small amounts of the remaining coconut milk as it cooks, as necessary, so that the liquid doesn’t reduce too much.

After half an hour, take out the bones and set aside. Continue simmering the curry for approximately 15 more minutes until the curry is rich and unctuous. For that extra wow factor, add the bones back into the curry just before serving to warm the remaining marrow within through again, then place them in the serving bowls for presentation.

Sarong twist
Using freshly made coconut milk makes all the difference with this dish. It keeps the end result super light and fresh. Canned coconut milk will create a very different, much heavier and oilier, finish. The vegetarian version of this dish is absolutely brilliant – simply omit the bone marrow and you’re good to go.

Red bean dahl
100 grams red beans (canned or dried)
1 stem fresh curry leaf, leaves picked off
1/2 stem fresh pandan leaf, leaves picked off
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon mustard powder
2 teaspoons dry ground chili powder
1 teaspoon coriander paste (see recipe below)
2 large green chillies, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
150ml fresh coconut milk
pinch of salt to taste
1/2 bunch fresh flat leaf coriander
2 tablespoons water

If using dried red beans, pre-soak overnight. Rinse in fresh water then drain. Cook in fresh water for approximately one hour or until tender. To make the coriander paste, simply pound the fresh coriander with a little water in a mortar and pestle until it reaches a smooth consistency. Set aside. Warm a little oil in a pan and fry the curry leaves, pandan leaves, green chilli, cinnamon and garlic together for approximately one minute, until fragrant. Add the red beans and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring well. Follow by adding the turmeric powder, mustard powder, chili powder and coriander paste. Stir to combine thoroughly then add a pinch of salt. Finish by adding the coconut milk. Simmer for approximately half an hour, until the flavors have blended and the beans have started to cook down into a rich dahl. Serve with hot coconut cakes for scooping up the dahl.

Chargrilled coconut cakes
500 grams plain wheat flour
250 grams fresh grated coconut
50ml water
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
fresh banana leaves for wrapping

Wash and dry the banana leaves. Cut into strips approximately 10cm wide. Set aside. Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Mix well to form a thick mixture that holds its form easily. Roll the mixture into a cylinder shape with either a rolling pin or your hands, using a banana leaf to help you create a smooth roll. Cut the roll into rounds and press into small, flattened disk shapes, approximately 5mm thick. Wrap each cake in banana leaf. Dry cook the parcels in a Teflon frying pan (or on a hot grill plate) on medium heat for approximately five minutes on each side. The banana leaf will become crispy and golden on the outside, while the coconut cake inside stays moist and doesn’t burn. Serve immediately with butter and chili sambal.

Sarong twist
If the cakes are too thin they will become hard and dry when cooked, or if they’re too thick then they will be heavy, so experiment with the first one or two until you get the thickness and consistency right. We serve these as a savoury accompaniment, so the flavor should be more salty than sweet. Traditionally though, these little coconut cakes are served for breakfast, so try them in the morning as a stack with yogurt, passion fruit jam and fresh fruit.




To read about the Street Food Chef’s travels in Sri Lanka, and for more Sri-Lankan-inspired recipes for feasting, head to and click on the BLOG link. You can also follow Chef Will Meyrick as he heads out across our very own Indonesian archipelago – by plane, boat, car and rickshaw – in search of the country’s culinary pulse. www. on