Vegetarian lovers’ rice


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Lands of the Curry Leaf

Lands of the Curry Leaf

By Peter Kuruvita

Published 2018

  • About

Made to celebrate a couple’s love for each other, this opulent and festive dish usually contains seafood, but the vegetarian version is just as lovely.

Preparation 30 minutes
Cooking 40 minutes


  • 200 g (7 oz) samba rice; if you can’t get hold of it, use a short-grained rice
  • tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 1 fresh curry leaf sprig, leaves picked
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 100 g ( oz) winter melon or pumpkin (winter squash), peeled
  • 150 g ( oz/1 cup) cashews, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Sri Lankan vegetarian chilli paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 50 g ( oz/ cup) fresh green peas
  • 45 g ( oz/¼ cup) raisins
  • fried shredded curry leaves, to garnish

Sri Lankan Vegetarian Chilli Paste

  • 100 g ( oz) virgin coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • ½ pandan leaf, chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 tablespoons chilli flakes
  • 25 fresh curry leaves, shredded
  • 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt


To make the chilli paste, heat the coconut oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Fry the onion, pandan leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves and chilli flakes for about 3 minutes, or until the onion is golden. Stir in the curry leaves, garlic and ginger and cook for about 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Sprinkle with the sugar and salt and stir until dissolved, then remove from the heat and leave to cool. Blend into a paste and set aside. You will only need a small amount for this dish; the remainder will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Wash the rice and cook according to one of the methods.

Meanwhile, in a large sturdy wok, heat the coconut oil over medium heat and add the curry leaves. When they pop, add the carrot, winter melon and cashews and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in the chilli paste and turmeric and cook for a few minutes, then add the peas and raisins and stir for 2 minutes.

When the rice is cooked, fluff the grains using a fork, then add the rice to the vegetable mixture, tossing in the wok until well combined.

Garnish with fried curry leaves and serve immediately, with your favourite relish or pickle.