Sri Lanka (Part 3)

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Pol Sambol

Traditional Sri Lankan coconut side dish. Coconuts are a staple ingredient in most Sri Lankan meals.

Total time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6-8


  • 150g unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 150g sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 medium tomato, de-seeded, finely chopped, juice reserved
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 150g cooked small shrimp, finely chopped (substituted for maldive fish)
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • salt to taste


  1. In a medium bowl, combine coconut, tomato, onion, and chill powder. Mix thoroughly until ingredients have an even pink color.
  2. Add reserved tomato juice, lime juice, shrimp, and salt to taste. Mix until the symbol is moist and pale reddish in color. Serve.

Family Ratings

  • Mama: 4/5
  • Papa: 3.5/5, can’t wait to try this as batter for barbecued tiger prawns!
  • Girlie: 3/5
  • TW: 4.5/5
  • McM: 4/5, very interesting texture and combination of flavors! Mixing half sweetened and half unsweetened coconut is a nice blend.

Original recipes: and


Sri Lanka (Part 2)

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Gotukola Sambol

Traditional Sri Lankan salad with a strong but refreshing flavour.

Total time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6-8


  • 2 bunches Italian flat-leaf parsley (substituted for Sri Lankan gotukola)
  • 3 tablespoons white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 50g unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 50g sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2-3 tablespoons lime juice, to taste


  1. Rinse parsley. Chop coarsely.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine parsley, onion, tomato, coconut, and lime juice. Use tongs to mix the salad until ingredients evenly distributed. Serve.

Family Ratings

  • Mama: 4.5/5, would be great as a summer salad!
  • Papa: 4/5
  • Girlie: 2/5
  • TW: 4/5
  • McM: 3/5

Original recipe:

Sri Lanka (Part 1)

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Scrambled Tofu

Vegetarian Sri Lankan meal.

Total time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6-8


  • 1kg firm tofu, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 250g fresh baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Steam the spinach until wilted. Squeeze out excess water. Set aside to cool.
  2. Heat olive oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and sauté (2 minutes). Add mushrooms and cook (2 more minutes). Add tomatoes and cook (1 more minute). Add steamed spinach and cook (2 more minutes).
  3. Add turmeric, chill powder, soy sauce. Stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add crumbled tofu. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until heated (10 minutes).
  5. Serve with additional soy sauce and hot sauce as desired.

Family Ratings

  • Mama: 3.5/5, excellent with soy sauce!
  • Papa: 4/5, initially a bit bland but very tasty with soy sauce and hot sauce to add spice and flavour
  • Girlie: 3/5
  • TW: 5/5, really delicious with soy sauce added
  • McM: 4/5, could use more spice but great with soy sauce!

Original recipe:

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Scrambled tofu (left) served with pol sambol (bottom) and gotukola sambol (right) for a traditional Sri Lanka meal (see other recipe posts on this blog). We felt that this meal had some of the most interesting and exotic flavor combinations of any country so far!


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Homemade sushi is fun for the whole family with lots of opportunity to customize rolls based on individual preferences for fillings. Leftover rolls are delicious the next day!

Total time: 1 hour
1 cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced


  • 3 cups sushi rice
  • 10 nori (seaweed) sheets
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, halved, stoned, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 170g smoked salmon
  • 2 can tuna
  • 100g crab meat (artificial or canned)
  • 4 tablespoons spicy mayonnaise
  • 1 lettuce leaf, thinly cut
  • soy sauce (to serve)
  • pickled ginger (to serve)
  • wasabi (to serve)


  • bamboo rolling mat
  • chopsticks


  1. Cook the sushi rice according to package instructions. We used a rice cooker which worked well. More tips for cooking sushi rice are available below with the original recipe link.
  2. Shred the crabmeat and stir in mayonnaise to create a thick paste (pepper, wasabi, or sriracha sauce can be added to make a spicier version).
  3. Mix the canned tuna with mayonnaise to create a thick paste (pepper, wasabi, or sriracha can be added as above).
  4. Assemble the sushi rolls. Place a nori seaweed sheet on top of the bamboo mat. Wet your hands and scoop a small amount of cooked sushi rice (approximately 1/4 cup). Gently spread the rice evenly across the nori, leaving a small 1 inch gap without rice on the end you are rolling towards. Add the fillings (below). Folding the bamboo mat on the side closest to you, roll slowly and gently with even pressure to wrap as tightly as possible. Place the rolls in the refrigerator after rolling until they become firm (10 minutes). Use a wet sharp knife to cut rolls into 1 inch pieces.
  5. Some of our favourite flavour combinations included: creamy crab with avocado, smoked salmon with lettuce and avocado, creamy tuna with cucumber, spicy tuna with avocado. Feel free to create whichever combinations you like!
  6. Serve cold with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.

Family Ratings

  • McM: 5/5, a delicious meal that was a lot of fun to prepare!

Original recipe:
Sushi rice tips:

Iran (Part 2)

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Uyghur Polo

Beef and rice pilaf, a staple dish among Central Asian countries including Iran. Pictured above (on left) with yogurt spinach dip (on right).

Total time: 1 hour
Servings: 4-6


  • 2 cups rice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 500g beef (we used tenderloin)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 500g carrots, julienned
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • salt to taste


  1. Cook rice according to package instructions (we used a rice cooker).
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Cook the beef in the oil until evenly browned, stirring occasionally (about 10 min).
  3. Add chopped onion to the pot and cook until translucent (about 10 min).
  4. Add carrots to the pot. (Initially it may look like there are too many carrots in the pot, however they will shrink with cooking and mix well into the recipe).
  5. Pour water into the pot. When the water boils, add the garlic bulb. Let the mixture simmer (5 min).
  6. Remove the garlic bulb and reserve. Add cumin. Allow mixture to simmer on medium-low heat (15-20 min).
  7. Add cooked rice to the mixture and stir.
  8. Replace the garlic bulb and pour raisins on top of the rice. Cover pot and cook on medium low heat (10-15 min).
  9. Remove the garlic bulb.
  10. Serve with naan and yogurt spinach dip as garnish (see recipe on this blog).

Family Ratings

  • McM: 4.5/5, very flavorful!

Original recipe:

Iran (Part 1)

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Borani Esfanaaj

Iranian yogurt and spinach dip.

Total time: 30min
Servings: 6-8


  • 500g fresh baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups thick balkan yogurt
  • 3 teaspoon dried mint
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see recipe)
  • sea salt, to taste


  1. Steam baby spinach until just wilted. Drain well by squeezing out excess water and chop fine.
  2. In a medium saucepan, saute 1 1/2 cloves of minced garlic in olive oil until lightly browned.
  3. Add chopped spinach and salt to taste. Stir.
  4. Remove from stove and allow to cool. Squeeze out excess liquid.
  5. Toast chopped walnuts in a dry frying pan until dark brown and fragrant. Avoid burning the walnuts. Set aside to cool.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt with the baby spinach mixture, the remaining minced garlic, dried mint, and toasted walnuts. Stir.
  7. In a bowl and the yogurt, and sea salt to taste, stir gently.
  8. Serve with naan, crackers, or as a garnish for Uyghur Polo (see recipe on this blog).

Family Ratings

  • McM: 4/5, delicious!

Original recipe:


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Traditional Afghan mushroom stew with lamb.

Total time: 60 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 3 cups chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2kg lamb chops, diced and bones removed* (see note below)
  • 2 800ml cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • salt to taste
  • 900g mushrooms, rinsed, stems trimmed, thinly sliced


  1. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions until lightly browned (about 3-5 min).
  2. Add chunks of lamb and continue to saute, turning frequently, until lamb turns light brown (about 10-15 min).
  3. Add tomatoes, spices, and salt to taste. Stir and continue cooking until lamb is almost fully cooked (about 15 min).
  4. Add mushrooms, cover, and cook until mushrooms are tender and lamb is done (about 15-20min).
  5. Serve with rice or naan.


  • Some family members do not like lamb so we prepared this recipe using 1kg diced lamb chops and 1kg diced tenderloin (other cuts of beef could be substituted). We used separate skillets for lamb and beef and divided the above ingredients in half for each skillet.

Family Ratings

  • McM: 3/5, very flavorful with tender juicy lamb but very spicy overall and would recommend using half the spices next time.

Original recipe:


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Lentil Rice Pilaf with Blackened Onions

Traditional vegetarian Lebanese dish.

Total time: 1 hour
Servings: 8


  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 400ml vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cup canned lentils, drained
  • 1 1/2 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 6 medium tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced
  • plain yogurt for garnish
  • chopped fresh mint for garnish


  1. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add chopped onion, minced garlic, cumin, and cinnamon. Sauté until onion softened (about 5 min).
  3. Add vegetable broth, lentils, and rice. Bring to boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice and lentils are tender (about 15 min).
  5. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
  6. Add sliced onions. Sauté until soft and beginning to blacken (about 20 min).
  7. Season pilaf to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve pilaf on plates.
  9. Top with blackened onions. Garnish with tomato and cucumber, yogurt, and mint.

Family Ratings

  • McM: 4.5/5, I really liked the yogurt as garnish!

Original recipe: