Tuesday 4 March 2008

sri lankan lotus curry

This week I’m hosting Weekend Herb Blogging!!!

If you have a herb, vegetable, fruit or flower recipe then blog about it and join in the fun. For more info on the rules and instructions scroll to the end of this post.

For my part, my contribution this week is all about the lotus root.

I’d never cooked with lotus before and it always seemed like such an exotic ingredient with its beautiful patterned web and crunchy fresh texture. I’d seen it for sale, pre-sliced in packages but on a recent junket into Chinatown I saw fresh roots for sale. I think they were going for around $5 per kilo.

Nelum Ala Uyala (Sri Lankan Lotus Root Curry)
Anna’s version of a widely circulated internet recipe. Serves 2-4 as part of a banquet.

110 grams lotus root
125ml coconut thick milk
1 tomato, chopped
4 snake beans, chopped into small rounds
1 green chilli, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ red onion, finely chopped
6 fresh curry leaves
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon Madras curry powder
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon paprika
Pinch of chilli powder
2 tablespoon ghee (or peanut/vegetable oil)
1. Wash and peel the lotus root then slice into thin circles, discarding the tough ends.
2. Heat the ghee in a pan and fry the onions until translucent and soft. Add the chilli, garlic and curry leaves and fry until softened.
3. Next add the ginger, chilli, fenugreek, turmeric, curry powder, chilli powder and paprika and fry until fragrant.
4. Now add the snake beans, tomato and salt and fry until the tomato disintegrates a little.
5. Next add the lotus slices and coconut milk and stir until combined.
6. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve with rice.
Note: the lotus root will remain crunchy.

Nelumbo nucifera is also known as blue lotus, Indian lotus, sacred lotus, bean of India, and sacred water-lily. It was native to huge areas of land across South East and Central Asia and is used widely as a food and ornamental plant. The lotus is the national flower of both India and Vietnam.

If seeds are well maintained they should keep flowering and amazingly a 1300 year old seed was found in a dried up lake bed in China and was successfully germinated!

The plants roots take hold of the pond or river bed and the leaves and flowers float on the water surface. Every part of the plant is edible, whether it be the roots, leaves, petals or seeds.

The lotus root, or rhizome, contains large air pockets running through the length of the root in order to maintain buoyancy.

Lotus roots are fried into chips, used in curries and soups, stir-fried into vegetable dishes and even braised. They can also be eaten raw in salads, although the risk of parasites in some water means they should probably be cooked.

The Chinese believe that eaten raw, lotus roots cool the blood.

According to Wikipedia, lotus roots are "rich in dietary fibre, vitamin C, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, copper, and manganese and very low in saturated fat".

China: ngau, ǒu 藕
Japan: renkon,レンコン,蓮根
India: kamal-kakri, bhe
Indonesia: teratai
Malaysia: seroja
Philippines: baino
Sri Lanka: nelum-ala
Thailand: bua-luang

If you want to join Weekend Herb Blogging this week, the only rules are that:
1) posts must be for WHB only and not entered into other events (DMBLGIT and other photo events excluded).
2) posts must mention Weekend Herb Blogging and link back to the weekly host (this week it’s my blog!)
3) posts must feature a herb, vegetable, fruit or flower. Recipes are more than welcome and info on the featured ingredient would be great!
4) deadline to email the links are 3pm MST (which is -7 UTC/GMT) Sunday 9 March.
Send to morselsandmusings AT yahoo DOT com DOT au

Head back here for the round-up of everyone's recipes on Monday or Tuesday next week!




  1. Great entry for WHB! I love that top photo. I've only seen this in pictures, and even when I went to China I never did see the real thing. I wonder if any Asian markets here would have it? Such a unique food, I'd love to try it.

  2. A very good entry Anna. Lotus root dishes are also served in many Gujarati restaurants. I didn't know even Srilankans use this.

  3. Great recipe.

    I find a lot of people do not purchase good lotus root. So here are the tips I have discovered from talking with the old ladies at the market who regularly buy it:

    1) Midsummer to Late Winter is the best time to buy it [freshest]
    2) Firm, pinkish or grayish lotus root are the best.
    3) Make sure the skin is smooth, unblemished, and has no soft spots.
    4) Make sure there is as little dirt as possible in the ends. Usually they are cut at the joint or just past the joint. Any exposed interior area is essentially wasted [it isn't as good] - so get it cut just past the end into the next segment - or on the segment wall itself.
    5) Some grocers break up the hands of the roots - this is a bad practice, but get what you can. Usually the places that do this don't take as good care of their produce.
    6) When sliced the channels should not be ringed with dark brown or black lining - that is a sign that the root is old.
    7) Store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 or 3 weeks. When cut cover it in lemon juice and water to store for about 5 days.
    8) Pare off tough skin, scrub well, and slice if desired when preparing. Mold patches and dark spots are not good.

    Sorry, was a bit redundant, but I figured it was better that way.

    Finally, the seeds make an absolutely amazing sweet paste. Soak them for a day, blanch them, soak them some more, blanch them again, then pressure cook them. Yes, they are quite involved - apparently they are toxic if not processed right - I've never tested that theory.

  4. kalyn - i bet californian asian markets would have them. i suppose the weather has to be warm for them to grow?

    mythreyee - thanks! i didn't know sri lankans use them either but this recipe is all over the internet so i decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. if there are any sri lankans out there, let us know what you think.

    anon - thanks for all those tips! i didn't know any of that when i bought my lotus root.
    i assumed that exposing the interior to air would make it hard and tough so i picked a small root that was totally enclosed. i found a little dirt inside when i cut it but it was easily cleaned out with a cotton stick.

  5. Yes yes...I have already submitted my post to you. Hope you have received it! It's on cilantro. Thanks for hosting.


  6. I wander if there is any relationship between the lotus root you use and the flowers that we (perhaps wrongly) call lotus that grow in the wetlands here.
    Although I've never heard of anyone eating them...and the French are notorious for eating anything and everything.
    Interesting dish and infor on something new!

  7. oh my this is funky. i love lotus root but i always make it in the form of a chinese soup together with groundnuts and pork ribs. never dreamed of having the root vege as a curry. This is very creative. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  8. Wow... those so pretty! When your blog first loaded, I thought they were pasta wagon wheels, lol. I've never seen lotus before!

  9. Very interesting post and good looking dish :)


  10. Lotus root dish is a treat. Thanks

  11. Hi Anna

    Just came across your blog via Is My Blog Burning, it's great! I've just joined.

    In Cantonese, lotus root is called lin ngau. My mum uses it in Chinese herbal soups a lot. It's delicious and I love the texture of it even after it's been cooked for hours.

    Helen Yuet Ling Pang

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. i buy frozen lotus root, they work out pretty well too!


Thanks for saying hello. It's great to know there are people out there in cyberspace!

Related Posts with Thumbnails