Tag Archives: Sri Lankan Food recipes

Enjoy Sri Lankan Food Recipes the Healthy Way

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Authentic Sri Lankan cuisine boasts of a distinctive and remarkable variety of tastes and textures combined into one cooked meal. Sri Lankan food recipes are always mouth wateringly delicious, from the way it’s presented to its explosion of flavours. A traditional Sri Lankan meal is usually made up of a handful portion of red or white rice accompanied by two or three curries of locally sourced vegetables, one meat or seafood curry and one green sambol or pickle, all of which come together in unique harmony to create an exceptional meal.

We’re fortunate that we have the opportunity to learn all the traditional masterpieces from our elders, from delicious chicken recipes in Sri Lanka to healthy rice varieties. Unfortunately, locals have forgotten or choose to forgo the optimal combination of curries and carbs and oftentimes favour meals with oversized portions of rice or meat portions as well as excessively oily vegetable dishes.

Let’s take a look at some simple ways in which you can make your Sri Lankan meal healthier and more wholesome without compromising on taste:

Opt for Smaller Portions of Rice

We Sri Lankans are used to huge portions of rice that is usually more than enough to feed two people. Toning down on your rice portions and increasing the serving of vegetables and green leaves will ultimately lead to a healthier lifestyle. Replacing your white rice with red rice is also a healthier choice and a good way to get in shape.

Always Include a Salad in Your Meal

Green leaves may not be the favourite part of a plate of rice and curry for most Sri Lankans but it is one of the most important item you should include in your meals. A fresh green salad or a properly cooked curry of greens is rich in fibre and antioxidants and adding green leaves is easily one of the smartest meal choices you can make.

Be Wise with Your Spices

Almost all Sri Lankan food recipes include a rich variety of spices but it’s important to add the proper proportion of spices to your meals. The health benefits of spices are immense and it has been an essential part of our long history and cultural heritage thanks to their taste enhancing properties as well as the numerous health benefits they bring to meals.

Avoid Overcooking Your Vegetables

Most Sri Lankans prepare vegetable dishes that are too overcooked and basically stewed into the curry itself, thereby causing the loss of nutritional properties of a properly cooked vegetable curry. Properly cooked vegetables can give you a lot more nutrients than overcooked or boiled ones and this is a backed by studies. So make sure you cook your vegetables only just so as not to lose their nutritional value. Remember, you have to eat to fuel your body and not to feed your emotions.

Opt for Carbohydrates from Food like Quinoa, Brown Rice and Bulgur

While most of us can easily source any local grain from the nearest supermarket, we usually opt for breads and rotis in our meals. This means that we often miss out on the healthy nutrients that we can get from grains and other healthy carb alternatives. If you’re conscious about your health, replacing your usual carb intake with healthy carb choices is the way to go.

When it comes to healthy eating habits, what we have to remember is that moderation is key. It can be a subjective term because it means something different for each person. For example, moderation for one person could mean eating half a roti with a small serving of curry while for another, it could mean having a whole wheat roti instead of white roti.

Moderation may be a complex and even a biased word but it’s an important one. Learning to eat in moderation can help you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight without having to restrict your food intake. Have you ever tried to cut out sugar, meat, or flour completely, only to crave it so badly that you end up bingeing? Deprivation often backfires and the only thing that will work is healthy eating habits and lifestyle changes.

When we go on a diet, we usually set ourselves up for failure. It all boils down to slow changes vs fast changes. Rather than avoiding certain foods completely, remember to eat in moderation. So that means you can still enjoy the occasional pizza or slice of cake.

Food is there to be enjoyed but remember these three important keys to eating healthy: balance, moderation and variety.

How to nail the perfect Chicken Parmesan Recipe

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Who can resist a chicken parmesan with a buttery panko coating, perfectly melted cheese and a flavourful hit of everything you would want in a chicken?

Sri Lankan food recipes involve a lot of chicken curries and it’s no surprise that we Lankans have proudly come up with our own chicken meal twists. While the classic chicken recipes in Sri Lanka are often our go-to options, it doesn’t hurt to indulge in something Italian-American once in a while too. And to be frank, nothing can substitute the simplicity and deliciousness of a classic Chicken Parmesan, particularly when preparing it is so easy!

The perfectly crispy chicken breasts topped with homemade marinara sauce and loads of melted cheese is too tempting to resist. Plus, if you’re craving some Italian cuisine, then this Chicken Parmesan can be served with some spaghetti and trust us, it will be restaurant-worthy in every way.

Also known as Chicken Parmigiana, Chicken Parmesan is basically a throwback to an eggplant parmesan with slices of breaded eggplant being fried before serving it with parmesan cheese on top. In its more contemporary form, it’s served with melted mozzarella and further garnished with parmesan cheese. This particular recipe calls for parmesan cheese to be added into the breading for an accentuated flavour.

This recipe yields four servings and takes approximately 40 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup  shredded provolone cheese
  • 1 cup marinara sauce

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  • Place the chicken breasts in between a parchment paper and use a rolling pin to flatten it to about ½ an inch in thickness.
  • Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Use three bowls adding the flour into one, lightly beaten eggs into another and the shredded parmesan cheese and panko breadcrumbs to the other.
  • Dredge the chicken into the flour, dip it into the eggs and finally coat it with the panko-parmesan cheese mixture.
  • In a cast iron skillet, heat some olive oil under medium high heat and cook the chicken for about four minutes on each side until it turns golden brown. Note that the chicken will be raw on the inside at this stage.
  • Now, add the coated chicken onto a baking sheet and add the marinara sauce and and top it off with shredded cheese. Cook for about 18-20 minutes.

This Chicken Parmesan can be served with spaghetti, steamed vegetables or zucchini noodles. You can also serve it on a sub sandwich. The classic marinara sauce that is added on top of the chicken gives this recipe a distinct Italian touch and the sauce it meant only to add to the flavour and not drown the chicken out. Adding too much sauce could also cause the chicken breading to lose its crispiness so use the sauce as mentioned in the recipe.

Since there aren’t many kid-friendly chicken recipes in Sri Lanka, this Chicken Parmesan would do the trick. Plus, it’s a huge favourite among kids and since it’s not as spicy as the classic Sri Lankan food recipes, they will absolutely love it!

The problem with the Sri Lankan Food Recipes

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The Sri Lankan food culture is, beyond doubt, amazing and versatile. With a interesting fusion of local delicacies and a fascinating melange of cuisine adapted from various countries over the centuries, Sri Lankans enjoy a truly unique culinary heritage and a remarkable food culture.

Sri Lankan food recipes are superbly palatable, diverse and wholly addictive. But what makes Sri Lankan food so good is that it is much more than just taste – it is also amazingly healthy. With traditional Sri Lankan recipes like Kola Kenda, Mallung, ambul thiyal, halape and a dizzying array of vegetable curries, our island cuisine gives the best of both worlds with tasty delicious and wholesome nutrition. Sri Lanka is also blessed with an abundance of exotic fruit and vegetables and with long-standing healthy eating habits like using kithul treacle instead of refined sugar, there’s really nothing to complain about Sri Lankan cuisine.

However, despite our whole food culture, we still find Sri Lankans disturbingly susceptible to diet-related chronic health conditions. Pot bellies are an appallingly common sight now and conditions like diabetes, heart complications, obesity and hypertension having risen alarmingly, accounting to 18.3% of all deaths in the country. Iron deficiency, Vitamin A deficiency and protein energy malnutrition are another problem in some parts of the local population, especially among children. If our food culture is so healthy, why could this be happening?

This answer is pretty straightforward; we Sri Lankans have some amazingly whole food but some equally bad eating habits. Here are some local eating mannerisms we can try do away with for a healthier lifestyle:

The Rice Quandary

If there’s one fact we can all attest to, it that we Sri Lankans love our rice. The typical ratio of rice to vegetables to meat, fish or chicken on a typical plate is something like 15 parts rice, 2 parts vegetables, and 1 part meat, fish or chicken. Plus, most locals prefer to have rice for all three means resulting in an overdose of carbohydrates our bodies simply don’t need.

Our love affair with rice also comes with another potential health hazard. According to the British Medical Journal, a high consumption of white rice can increase your risk of type-2 diabetes, due to its high Glycemic Index.

Most Sri Lankans lead pretty sedentary lifestyles so we really don’t need all that surplus carbohydrates. While rice is the staple food of our country, it’s wise if you start reducing your servings of rice and increase the portions of vegetables and proteins.

An Excess of Carbs

Another undeniable fact is that we Sri Lankans have too many carbohydrates beside the daily servings of rice. If it’s not rice, then it’s some starchy meal or other, such as string hoppers, pittu, rotti, sweet potatoes and manioc. In fact, research has shown that Sri Lankan adults get 71.2% of their energy from carbohydrates, with only 10.8% from proteins, and 18.9% from fats. Our predominantly carbohydrate diet is also mainly to blame for the high prevalence of diabetes among Sri Lankan adults.

The Coconut Conundrum

If rice isn’t our staple food, it would have been coconut. A Sri Lankan kitchen really isn’t a kitchen if there isn’t a coconut scraper and coconuts in it. Our love for coconuts is evident in it being in all our food – from rice to sweets, coconut is present is practically everything we eat.

Now coconut isn’t a bad food by any means. It’s a tropical superfood that is chock full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. However, moderation is the key to everything and it should be the same with our coconut consumption. Coconut is also high in calories with just one cup of undiluted coconut milk containing up to a third of your daily calorie requirements. So if you want to watch your weight, moderate the use of coconut milk and the use of coconut in your dishes.

The Extra Dose of Oil

Another bad food habit we Sri Lankans have is the tendency to opt for refined coconut oil in our cooking. We use oil quite liberally in our cooking, especially with the amount of frying and tempering we do with our food. Plus almost all our snacks and sweets are deep-fried. Watching your oil intake is a surefire way to a healthier lifestyle.

The Late Night Dinner Dilemma

We’ve all heard of the old saying about eating breakfast like a king and dinner like a pauper. Turns out there is a lot of truth in it. We Sri Lankans tend to prefer heavy, late dinners and with our love for food, we end up with huge servings of kottu, rice, noodles or pasta and then go straight to bed, most often late. Eating heavily at night is one of the cardinal sins of healthy living and there’s actually studies to back this up. Research has found actual evidence that late meals are harmful to health in more ways than one. So go light on those huge dinners, and try to eat lightly at night.

Making small adjustments in your daily diet like using kurakkan flour instead of rice flour whenever possible can make a huge difference. Including lots of fruits and vegetables, going light on the use of coconuts and reducing your sugar intake are all steps that can make a real difference in the long run.

How to Cook a Chicken Curry – Sri Lankan style!

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Sri Lankan food recipes are always a touch above the rest given that we Lankans really love our food to burst with flavour and spice. And let’s face it – who doesn’t love chicken? From crispy fried chicken to barbecued deliciousness, chicken tastes good regardless of how it’s prepared. But if you haven’t tried the classic Sri Lankan chicken curry, you don’t know what you’re missing!

As far as the nutritional benefits are concerned, chicken is a great source of minerals, vitamins and it very rich in protein. It also has fewer fats when compared to other meat varieties such as beef or mutton. Because of this, chicken is a good source for weight loss and helps balance blood pressure, lessen the risk of cancer and reduce the risk of cholesterol.

While there are a wide array of Sri Lankan chicken curry recipes out there, this particular chicken curry dish is special in its own right. Tendy, juicy, aromatic and literally exploding with flavour, this tantalizing curry will take you to culinary heaven! Here’s how you can prepare it yourself:

Ingredients

  • 500g chicken parts
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • A generous piece of ginger
  • 15 red chilies
  • One sprig of curry leaves
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¾ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cardamoms
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • One small stick of cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt to taste

Method:

 Portion the chicken and wash it well.

  • Add salt and turmeric powder, mix it well onto the chicken and let it marinate for 15 minutes.
  • In a pan over medium heat, dry roast the following ingredients – red chilies coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, curry leaves, black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom. Stir it frequently for about three minutes.
  • Take this dry roasted mixture and grind it finely.
  • Grind the ginger and garlic until it becomes a fine paste and set aside.
  • In a separate pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. Allow it to splutter.
  • To this, add the onion and saute is until it turns golden in colour.
  • Add the ginger and garlic paste to this and cook it for 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
  • Now, add the marinated chicken pieces to this and mix thoroughly.
  • Place the lid and cook it under high flame for about five minutes.
  • Remove the lid and stir for a few more minutes under medium heat until the chicken it well cooked.
  • After the chicken pieces turn into light brown, add the spices and the coconut milk.
  • Stir everything and cook it covered for about six minutes under low flame.
  • Give it a taste and add more salt if required.
  • Serve it with rice.

So there you have it – one of the most favorite chicken recipes in Sri Lanka! Do prepare this dish using Bairaha’s premium chicken and let us know how you find it!