Sri Lankan Jackfruit and Chickpea Curry

Sri Lankan cooking is all about heritage, history and culture.

What's the biggest difference between Sri Lankan and Indian food? Most Sri Lankan dishes use vegetable oil whereas the Indians prefer butter ghee. The spice levels between the two nations are vastly different too - the Sinhalese usually opting for more low key spiciness.

Although the small island was colonised by the Dutch, Portuguese and the British for centuries, their cuisine remains rich in culture without so much as a hint of influence from the West - a very bold feat considering they only became independent in 1948. Roasted blends of distinct spices, citrusy notes from lemongrass, the almond-like flavour from pandan leaves and the punches (the tasty kind) from curry leaves are all hallmarks of a great Sri Lankan curry.

This recipe comes from a wonderful chef, Susanthi, based in Unawatuna - the Southwestern part of Sri Lanka. We had the pleasure of eating in Sea Waves Restaurant and learnt how Susanthi made this indulgent yet ridiculously healthy Jackfruit and Chickpea Curry (the chickpeas were our own doing - extra texture and protein, ya know). You'll need a good spice grinder - a coffee grinder or a blender should also do the trick. Seasonality of fresh jackfruit can be an issue so we've got canned and frozen jackfruit the whole year round.

Gluten-free and vegan-friendly
Serves 2

Ingredients for the roasted curry powder:

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 6 fresh curry leaves
  • 1/2 lemongrass stick
  • 1 pandan leaf, lightly bruised
  • 1/4 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 cm ginger
  • 1 garlic clove

To make the roasted curry powder:

  1. In a dry and hot frying pan, add all the ingredients and stir until golden brown
  2. Blend in the spice grinder and set aside

This amount of roasted curry powder is enough for another day's cooking so keep the rest for your next culinary adventure

Ingredients for the jackfruit and chickpea curry:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 can of yellow jackfruit (drained) or one bag of frozen jackfruit (thawed)
  • 1 can of chickpeas (drained)
  • half a small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2cm ginger, minced
  • 1/2 large green chilli, sliced and deseeded
  • 6 - 10 curry leaves
  • 1 pandan leaf, sliced into thirds
  • 1 cinnamon bark
  • 1 lemongrass stick, finely diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp roasted curry powder (made above)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • thin coconut milk (200ml coconut milk + 200ml water)
  • thick coconut milk (200ml coconut milk)

What to do:

  1. Heat a medium-sized pot with the oil
  2. Reduce to medium heat and add the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli to the pan. Stir until the onion is softened
  3. Add the curry leaves, lemongrass, cinnamon, salt, roasted curry powder, turmeric, jackfruit, chickpeas and thin coconut milk. Stir continuously and cook until it starts to boil
  4. Add the thick coconut milk and cook until it's boiling
  5. Serve and enjoy

Sourcing Specialist

Serena

Reciting the first five minutes of Shrek while eating a plate of nasi lemak is something I am proud of.

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