Excerpt from pamphlet ‘Guide for Island Newcomers’:
This is a tried and tested recipe, and the fresh coconut is worth the effort.
You will need:
1 fresh coconut
3 onions, finely chopped
400g peas in their pods
250g fine beans
3 large, ripe tomatoes
2 small, green chillies, deseeded and chopped
½ tsp tomato puree
3 tbsp oil
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp clove and cinnamon powder
¼ tsp cumin and coriander powder
1 small cinnamon stick
2.5cm/ 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped
The fruit and vegetable market in the Old Town is the best place to obtain the fresh produce. There is no parking, so travel there and back is best on foot or via tuk-tuk. Matatus and buses also stop nearby. Be prepared to haggle, but be aware that the vendors must make a living from their sales, and most have now fixed their prices. Walk around the market once before deciding which vendors to approach. Usually, vendors will sell only one or two varieties of vegetable, fresh from the farm. The spices may be purchased from the many grocery shops which line the streets adjacent to the market. They are usually sold ready-ground, and can be weighed according to need.
1. Crack open the coconut: this is best done with a dull implement such as the blunt end of a machete or cleaver. Tap the coconut firmly over its equator while turning it, until it splits. Hold over a bowl and drain the coconut water. Hold each half of the coconut in turn and rotate, while using the serrated shredder to pare away the white, fresh coconut. Place the shredded coconut into the woven coconut cone, add hot water and twist gradually from the top, holding over a large bowl. The pressure will force coconut milk from the cone into the bowl.
2. Wash the fresh produce thoroughly, ensuring that all soil is removed; we would recommend soaking and rinsing several times. Scrub the potatoes, and peel the carrots and potatoes. Cut these into small cubes.
3. Shell the peas. Check carefully for small insects, mildew and scarred areas: discard if found. Run your thumb down the pod to release the peas.
4. Slice the fine beans lengthways, checking for discoloured or scarred areas, and chop into 2cm pieces.
5. Steam all of the vegetables until tender, approximately for 10 minutes.
6. Grind the chillies, garlic and grated ginger in a pestle and portar, making a thick paste.
7. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onions until they start browning at the edges.
8. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree and fry for 1 minute.
9. Add the ginger and chilli paste, together with all of the spices to the pan and stir well.
10. Add the steamed vegetables to the gravy and simmer for another 5 minutes.
11. Add all of the coconut milk and the cinnamon stick, and cover the pan. Simmer on the lowest possible heat for 5 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick.
12. Just before serving, season to taste and sprinkle with the fresh coriander. Serve with freshly steamed Basmati rice.