The launch of Sri Lanka’s second convivium, Slow Food Nuwara Eliya, in January was celebrated with a feast of Sri Lankan dishes made with local ingredients. New convivium leader Roger Abeyagoonesekera said the aim was to “bring the message of good food culture to local small farmers and farm holders” in this hill district of the Central Province, a rolling picturesque landscape that supports the nation’s most important tea production.
Many of the dishes on the day used ingredients that are disappearing from the average household’s kitchen as they become harder to find or are considered too labor intensive to process, according to chef Duminda Abyesiriwardena, a founding Slow Food member in Sri Lanka who oversaw the preparation of the feast.
“These flavorful dishes exemplify the Slow Food philosophy, using local ingredients and traditional methods that are being lost to new generations,” he said. “It’s my goal as a chef to help get Sri Lankan culture back on track, and to steer youth away from the masses of fast food options that are attracting them.”
This recipe for spicy pumpkin curry, instead uses a vegetable found readily across the country and the world. Enjoy it with a selection of other curries or simply with roti or rice.
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small knob of ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
a few karapincha (curry leaves)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
200 g pumpkin, chopped
150 ml coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
5 tsp grated coconut, toasted (optional)
Heat a little oil in a pan and sauté onion, garlic and ginger on medium heat.
Add the curry leaves, powdered spices and cumin seeds.
Add the pumpkin and coconut milk and mix well with the other ingredients.
Bring to the boil and simmer until pumpkin is tender.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, spread the grated coconut over an oven tray and bake at a moderate heat until brown, taking care not to burn it. Cool and sprinkle over the curry when serving.