These food packets can unite Sri Lankan food lovers in a jiffy. Traditionally, it was all in a day’s work to prepare one of these treasured, flavourful food parcels.
Over the years, the authentic recipe has been modified – the meats (a mix of beef, mutton, fowl or pork) have been replaced with simply chicken.
The word Lamprais means ‘a packet of lumped rice’. Lamprais is probably the most significant and sought after remnant from the Dutch colonisation days in Sri Lanka.
Heat 1/2 cup ghee in a large saucepan. Add 2 chopped onions and 5 pepper corns. Add 1 large stick of cinnamon, 5 cloves, 5 cardamom pods.
Add 4 cups rice – washed and rinsed well. Fry lightly. Add 8 cups of veg or meat stock and 2 pieces of lemon grass. Add salt to taste. Cook on low flame until the rice is tender.
Cut boneless pieces of these 3 meats into small pieces – 300 gms of beef, 300 gms of mutton and 300 gms of chicken (or lean pork).
Warm a mud pot and pour in 3 cups coconut milk, 7 roasted and powdered red chillies, 1 tbs chopped garlic, 1 tbs minced ginger, 1 tbs curry powder, a tiny pinch of fenugreek, 1 tbsp. vinegar, ½ tsp saffron strands, 1 small Pandan leaf (Rampa) a piece of lemongrass and a sprig of curry leaves. Cook until the meats are tender. Add 1 tbs of roasted and powdered dried prawns, 5 ground cardamoms and the juice of 1 lemon.
In another pan, fry 10 sliced red shallots and few curry leaves in 2 tbs ghee and add to the pot. Cook on simmer.
Frikkadels (Dutch Meatballs)
Mix and season 300 gms minced beef with 2 tsp ginger and garlic minced, 1 chopped onion, 1 tsp powdered sweet cumin, a pinch of saffron, 1/2 tsp crushed fennel, 1 pinch powdered cinnamon, 4 cloves, 1 tsp crushed pepper and salt. Squeeze 1/ lime into the mix. Shape the mixture into small balls. Dip in 1 beaten egg, roll in 1 cup bread crumbs and fry in ghee.
Wambatu Moju (Eggplant Pickle)
Slice 4 small eggplants lengthwise, season with salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and after 10 minutes, fry in oil. Remove and set aside on paper towels. Into the same oil, add 250 gms shallots and 6 green chillies for and saute. Add 2 tbs crushed red chillies and fry. Add 10 cloves sliced garlic, 2 tsp powdered mustard, 2 cardamoms, 2 cloves and 5 tsp sugar together with 50 ml vinegar and boil. Add the fried eggplant slices. Add salt to taste. Mix well.
Recipe for Seeni Sambol
Lightly roast 300 gm dried prawns over low heat for a few minutes, stirring. Remove to a plate. Put 2 cups grated coconut into the same pan and roast, stirring, until it turns a rich chestnut brown colour.
Grind together the dried prawns, the roasted coconut, 3 dried red chilies, 2 chopped onions, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp minced ginger, 1 tbs fresh lime juice, a pinch of sugar and salt. Mix well. Store.
Ash Plantain Fries
Peel 5 ash plantains or green bananas, cut into rectangular pieces and soak them in water (to prevent discolouration). Mix well with 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1/2 tsp chilli powder and salt to taste. Deep fry in oil.
Boil eggs in water with a pinch of salt. De-shell, dry the eggs using paper towels and season with salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric. Deep fry until crispy and blistered on the outside.
Making the Lamprais parcels:
Heat banana leaves to make them pliable. Do not burn the leaves.
Serve a portion of rice onto a banana leaf. Place small portions of the rest of the curries around the rice. Put about a large teacupful of rice on each leaf.
Fold in the edges of the banana leaf to make small parcels and secure the edges with wooden skewers (over stuffing the packets would cause the banana leaves to tear off easily. If the banana leaves are not sturdy enough, you could double wrap the them with aluminium foil to secure)
Bake at 150°C for 10 minutes, then serve hot.
By Christ & Co.