Sri Lankan curries
I shared an apartment with a Sri Lankan friend when at university in Sydney. She would make curries as handed down to her from her grandmother. When she cooked the curry, no one was allowed in the kitchen. Not for the three days that it took her to cook it. I knew that she kept the secret spices in her room because I snooped. She would not reveal what was in the jar because to be quite honest I don’t think she knew. All I know is that every time she or her parents went back to Sri Lanka, it was replenished.
I could identify a lot of the spices but obviously not all, as I could never recreate it like she made it. I could smell the cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, and could see the turmeric. I saw her chopping onions. That is all I had. If she knew anymore than this, she was not letting on and nor would her parents when I quizzed them. If I ever tried to lift the lid of the curry pot, I got threatened with ‘no curry’.
It took 3 days of cooking and each day the aroma intensified. Did my friends or I who knew that curry was being made, mind being banned from the kitchen? No way. It was like a tantalizing teasing wait for what we knew was coming. The absolute best curry imaginable.
When I went to the country to teach she gave me a jar of this precious load of spices. It got broken in the move. I was heartbroken because I knew that the gesture was enormous and I knew my chances of slightly recreating this curry were gone. And yes to this day even though I go close to her curries, I am not close enough.
I said to Gordon that I wanted to go to Sri Lanka and one of those reasons was to hunt down the elusive spices and with any chance, ‘the’ recipe.
We arrived to a country filled with these beautiful smells and thought that we would have no problem at all.
Like my friend, it appears that the Sri Lankan people will generously share their food with you, but not the spices nor the recipes.
My quest will continue until I can make the Sri Lankan curries just as my friend did.
Should anyone want to hand over the recipe and the mix of spices you know I will be very very grateful.