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The Leafy Congee

IMG_20170116_095107_384After cold and frosty snowy days for long I am so eager and exited for spring. I love flowers, feeling of spring sun on my cheeks coming from my kitchen window in the mornings and listening to humming of various birds when I wake up. While I so eagerly await spring, and bursting out life everywhere, I do love enjoying a good rice congee while the air is still little chilly outside. Its once of those little blessings of life I will never get tired of. But I am going to tell you a story about a special type of congee today. It is a green and wholesome as well as delicious one on my account. One made from Curry leaves, one herb I long to eat each day everyday if I can get my hands on.

As the name, suggests you can have no curry without curry leaf. Fresh curry leaves are aromatic and slightly bitter and pungent in taste. A curry plant or “Karapincha” as we call in Sinhalese is a common house grown herbs in Sri Lanka. It is a Tropical plant that left without pruning can grow up to 10 feet tree. Curry plants belongs to the citrus family. Its leaves have distinct citrus aroma of its own which makes them ideal for soap making and various bath and hair oils which were usually prepared at home. Usually curry leaves with several other medicinal herbs are infused into coconut oil and resulting herbal oil is then used as a hair oil or massage oil. It is believed to give more dark and lush long and strong hair. While I myself have yet to discover specific evidence to this I can undoubtedly vouch for the numerous culinary applications.

Use of curry leaves in curries is straight forward. But today I am going to write about how I make myself a Sri Lankan green porridge / congee which is a typical Sri Lankan breakfast item made with rice and several of common backyard greens. So, without further ado let’s get cooking our breakfast.

Ingredients

  • About a cup of starchy short or medium grain rice
  • Two or three shallots
  • One green chili
  • two cloves of garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste (pepper is optional but I like the little kick it gives in my breakfast dish)
  • Healthy sum of tender greens of curry plant and any other leafy green of your choice. (I like to use kale and little bit of parsley, but greens like lettuce don’t really work here because they don’t release juices very well when blended and turns mushy)
  • About a cup of scraped fresh coconut meat
  • Water or Chicken stock

Preparation.

Wash the greens, remove tough stems and roughly chop them.

Slice shallots green chilies and garlic add it to a heavy bottom pan with rice and start cooking in excess water or Chicken stock. Keep the pot covered as you don’t want to evaporate or absorb all the water out.

While rice is cooking, blend the greens with scraped coconuts to make a paste. Squeeze out as much juice as you can from it.  return the scraping to your blender again with little water and repeat the process couple times more. If you don’t have access to a blender you can also hand grind the leaves with motor and pastel.

Once your rice is cooked to a gelatinous texture add the extracted juice and cook in a very low flame until the color turns darker and raw taste is no longer there. I like to cook mine right up to the simmering point stirring constantly. Adjust the seasoning to your preference.

Enjoy with little bit of Jaggery or a Roast Paan on a side. I know it’s good on its own, but that is just the way I like it. I hope you will find your own perfect side to go with it.

Happy green porridge time everyone!