A Craving for Spice

michael-cutting-pumpkin

weighing-pumpkin

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stirring-pumpkin

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pumpkin-curry-dahl-and-rice

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.

indika-at-ebb-flo

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.

DAHL

-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.

26 thoughts on “A Craving for Spice

  1. Oh I have a great fish curry recipe I should send you, it is the perfect spice and flavor! Mouth watering…!! Being Indian, obviously it is my favorite food. I crave it on the daily 🙂

  2. Guess where we are going in April … Sri Lanka! Inspired by you all big time as you can see! Unfortunately ebb and flow is full full 🙁 will send you some spices from there if I can! xx

  3. We are heading to Sri Lanka at the end of march for 2 months. This will be our first stop on our 9 month family sabbatical. Your blog is very inspiring Courtney particularly Sri Lanka. We are very excited to get started 👏🏻👏🏻

  4. There’s an amazing Thai/indian restaurant in Bellevue (I can’t remember the name but it was under a bank/office block, just off Bell Sq) that serves the most amazing Pumpkin curry! Next time your home I would recommend it!

  5. Yummy craving! I have always wondered if there is a missing nutrition component to pregnancy cravings. I craved fruit smoothies and Vietnamese Bun Cha with my two pregnancies — lucky for me as there was no guilt indulging in that healthy, fresh stuff!

  6. Hi Courtney

    These wonderful recipes take me back to being in Sri Lanka. I just loved everything I ate over there!

    Loving following your journey.

    Do you eat chicken? Have a fabulous chicken byrani recipe that feeds the whole family and can even be done on the bbq.
    Emma x x ( london)

    • Hi Emma,
      Isn’t the food in Sri Lanka just so good. We also enjoyed everything we ate there. Not just the curries but all the fresh tropical fruit as well.
      We eat mostly vegetarian (I say ‘mostly’ because lately I’ve been trying to eat a bit of meat here and there to boost my iron levels — and we try to feed the kids meat at least once every couple weeks). So, I don’t normally cook chicken, but please — if you have a link for the recipe — send it over! We might just have to try it.
      Thank you. xx

  7. Well I am only 12 weeks pregnant but now I am CRAVING green curry!!!
    I have been looking around babyccino kids and I am wondering which AESOP cleanser and lotion you use? Is that all you use on your skin? My pregnancy skin is also lacking nowadays. I just don’t have the energy (or stomach!) to really put forth the effort into an intense skin care routine.

    • Hi Jennifer,
      Congrats on your pregnancy!
      I love the Fabulous Face Cleanser from Aesop, the Primrose Hydrating cream and then I always put a layer of the Sage & Zinc facial hydrating cream for sun protection before leaving the house. I really love their products and try to keep my skincare routine as simple as possible, so this works well for me. x

  8. Oh yumm,I finally have to make Dahl,as a vegetarians its crazy we didn’t had it yet I think)
    Do your kids eat spicy dishes like this as well?Mine wouldn’t touch it ugh.
    Any tips when fresh curry leaves can’t be found,what type of curry to use then?
    Thank you Courtney,I enjoy your blog very much

    • Hi Veronika,
      Oh as vegetarians you’ll love this lentil dish!
      My kids are pretty adventurous eaters and don’t mind spicy food. But saying this, you don’t have to make the dahl spicy. We made it last weekend for friends with children and we made a non-spicy version for their kids, which they gobbled up quickly.

      If you can’t find fresh curry leaves, you can always use the dried ones (which I think most good grocery stores stock).
      Good luck! x

  9. Hi Courtney,
    I’m from Sri Lanka and I enjoy these curries daily !
    Just last night we had pumpkin curry with rice and some more spicy curries !! wish I could send my lunch over to you !

    Mahesha
    from sunny Sri Lanka

  10. Pumpkin curry is so yummy!! It’s one of my favourites. My husband is Indian so we get to eat this and lots of other curries often.

  11. I craved fried chicken so badly with our son that my mouth would literally water. Curry sounds like a lovely craving. I make a chickpea curry from time to time, and this recipe reminds me to revisit it before summer sets in and cooking becomes a chore. Also, your kitchen scale is the business. I love blogs for this very reason. It’s like going into someone’s world or house or business and seeing those small details that catch the individual eye. Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to try this recipe. Amy

  12. Looks yum I will give it a try! Thanx for sharing. I was craving curries through both of my pregnancies but always added a peanut butter to pumpkin curries. My biggest craving though was tahini paste straight from the jar and MINT anything from lollies, chewing gum and even a body wash which i would smell till It gave me a head ache such a weirdo;)

  13. Hi Courtney, These recipes sound delicious. But I wanted to check what mustard cream was? I live in London and we use mustard in jars (english/wholegrain/dijon etc) and mustard powder but I wasn’t sure what mustard cream was. Thanks and best of luck with the baby. Harriet

    • Hi Harriet,

      We wondered the same thing. And when we did a quick google search, it looks like they have ‘mustard cream’ in Sri Lanka and India — but we figured it’s probably very similar to normal mustard (English or Dijon, etc.) so that is what we use! Thanks for the sweet message and good luck making this curry! x

  14. Hi Courtney,
    The recipes are fantastic. We tried both dishes and were all very happy … I just wandered what kind of coconut you use. Is it the milk? Is it a more dryer paste (“creamed coconut”)?
    Thanks very much in advance and best wishes from Munich, Sarah

    • Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for being inspired by the recipes. I’m glad you liked them!
      For the curry, we use the thicker coconut cream (but it’s not really like a paste – it’s just a creamier version than the coconut milk). I hope that makes sense?

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