There are these very rare moments where you stumble across something you never expected, a hidden gem. Even better are those times when someone lets you in on their little secret…

On a recent visit to Canberra, my Mum took me to the Aru Padai Murugan Temple, a Hindu temple in Torrens. To raise money for the construction of the temple they open a canteen every Saturday selling Sri Lankan food, much like the Sri Venkateswara Temple in Helensburgh does.

The food was crazy delicious, not to mention crazy cheap. The dish that really stood out for me was spinach with coconut. This is a tad strange because I’m not normally much of a coconut person, for example, I don’t really like lamingtons all that much. But this vivid green, plain salty dish won my heart and made me realise I actually love coconut in it savoury incarnations. So I did what all of us do in this situation and googled the hell out of Sri Lankan spinach recipes until I found on that fit the bill.

The great thing about this recipe, besides it being quick, easy, vegetarian and high in iron is that (if you have spinach in the freezer) you may have all the ingredients on hand, which makes it great for when you don’t feel like shopping. I served it with basmati rice cooked by the absorption method (directions below) and a big dollop of greek yogurt.

Spinach with Coconut
(makes 2 generous servings)
Canola oil
½ an onion, finely chopped
80g potato or pumpkin, cubed (optional)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground paprika
1 Tablespoon of red lentils
150g spinach, fresh or frozen, finely chopped
A handful of beans or snowpeas, finely chopped (optional)
Salt
Up to 1 cup stock or water
½ cup dessicated coconut
A smidgen of ground cayenne pepper

Parboil the potatos/pumpkin and lentils for 5 minutes, drain and set aside.

Heat oil and cook onion, cumin seeds, lentils and potato or pumpkin (if using) for 5 minutes with a pinch of salt to prevent browning.

Add some liquid and cook for another 5 minutes or until everything is soft.

Add all remaining ingredients and cook until spinach is soft. Serve with yellow rice.

‘Yellow Rice’
½ cup basmati rice
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
Canola oil
Salt
Turmeric, for colour
1½ cups water

Heat oil in the pan on high heat and add rice and mustard seeds. Toast until seeds start to ‘pop’.

Add all other ingredients and immediately turn heat down as low as possible. Once rice is simmering just a tiny bit, put lid on and cook for 15 minutes. Leave pan on the stove with the heat turned off for another 5 minutes.

Do you have any food discoveries to share?

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9 Responses to Sri Lankan Spinach with Coconut

  1. Natalie says:

    This looks so good I’m going to try it tonight! And those desert island potatoes, might have to become one of my “Potatoes 4 Ways” Christmas lunch that I’m planning. It goes roasted garlic mash, fondant potato, dauphinoise & roasties so far, with an onion gravy.. If you can’t commit carbicide at xmas when can you?!

  2. Lau says:

    I am 100% in agreement there, Natalie. ‘Potatos 4 ways’ has got to be the most awesome meal I’ve ever heard of!

  3. Ranindu says:

    Hi Lauren,

    This looks good. I would like to try this one. From where did you get this one? Or as Roo says did u come up with the recipe after having it in Canberra?
    Nice Ranindu

  4. Gina says:

    Yum-oh, going to try making tonight.

  5. bel says:

    I love spinach and I love coconut.. Totally going to make this! Thanks!

  6. […] I really wanted was some Sri Lankan pan rolls or some kind of coconut based curry and that’s when we came across one of the two Sri Lankan stalls. I snapped a few shots of the […]

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