Pregnancy cravings come in many strange forms. There are the classic pickles and ice cream jokes, of course, and I’ve heard of real cravings for orange juice, ice cold water, salty crisps, and I even had a friend who told me that whilst she was pregnant she liked when her food got sandy on the beach because the gritty texture appealed to her! Crazy but I totally get it. When I was pregnant with Easton it was chocolate breakfast cereal that I really wanted. I hadn’t eaten a spoonful of it in my life and didn’t even like chocolate all that much at the time (though this changed radically in the years that followed), but when I got pregnant I found myself drawn to the worst of it in the cereal aisles—Coco Krispies, Coco Puffs, Coco Anything! (We lived above a convenience store in Notting Hill, so I couldn’t even walk in my front door without the temptation of Coco Krispies staring me in my face!) I gave in and I was happier for it. When Easton came along though, the cravings went, and I haven’t had a bowl of it since.
This, the fifth time around, my cravings are thankfully more healthy and refined. I want spicy food! But not just any spicy food—Sri Lankan spicy food. Here again, I was not a big chili lover before the pregnancy, but something changed when this little one sprung to life inside me.
We loved so many things about Sri Lanka – the people, the surf, the wildlife and the exotic scenery. It was the Sri Lanka food though that really stayed with us. We ate curry for breakfast, curry for lunch and curry for dinner for over three weeks, and when we landed in London we wanted curry again. One of our first family meals was at Hoppers, Soho’s hip and delicious Sri Lankan restaurant.
Our next stop was Positano and a few days of Campania’s best dishes helped ease our curry obsession…. That was until I got pregnant. Then I was back to craving spicy curries! We still had many months of travel ahead of us (and sadly not every town has a Hoppers), so Michael vowed to learn to cook curries.
Some of our favourite Sri Lankan dishes were discovered during our stay at the Ebb & Flow Jungalows in Midigama. Their local chef, Indika, prepares every meal for each Jungalow, and his vegetarian curries were our favourites! Some, like Banana Flower curry, are not so easy to attempt outside of the tropics, but two of our all time favourites definitely are: Pumpkin Curry and Sri Lankan Dahl Curry. Ebb & Flow graciously gave us Indi’s recipes and a photo of the master at work (below). Pumpkins are plentiful in our area right now and we’ve been satisfying my cravings every week.
Here are the recipes:
INDIKA’S FAMOUS PUMPKIN CURRY
-750 grams of Pumpkin chopped into cubes
-2 x cloves of garlic
-2 x red onions sliced
-1 x cinnamon stick
-1.5 x tsp turmeric powder
-1 x tsp mustard cream (we substituted spicy mustard as we could not find Sri Lankan Mustard Cream)
-3 x green chillies (Thai chillies are best)
-1 x small bunch of fresh curry leaves (Karapincha)
-1 x Bay leaf
-1 x Tbsp raw brown sugar
-3 cups of Coconut Cream
-2 x cups water
-large pinch of Salt (or more to taste)
-2 Tbsp of oil
Heat oil in a large pot. Add curry leaves, onion, garlic, chilli and saute lightly. Add pumpkin and stir for 5-10 minutes. Add water. Add turmeric powder, mustard cream and cinnamon. Reduce down to half. Add coconut cream, salt and sugar. Reduce to thicken. Serve with steamed rice.
-3 cups of red lentils
-6 cups water – leave to soak for 1-2 hours
-1 x onion sliced
-3 x fresh chilli
-1 x garlic clove
-1 x small bunch of curry leaves
-2 x tsb turmeric
-1 x Tbsp chilli flakes/dried chilli
-2 x tsb mustard cream
-1 x cup of water
Wash lentils and remove any stones. Cook lentils – boil with water until soft and drain – leave aside. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large pot. Saute onion, garlic, curry leaves, crushed chilli flakes, fresh chillies, mustard cream and turmeric powder. Add lentils. Add one cup of water and reduce down. Add coconut cream to thicken. Salt to taste. Serve with steamed rice or Paratha.