Sri Lanka is best known for its delicious coconut based curries. But perhaps one of the most delectable dish to come from the tropical island nation is the fried potato curry Ala Thel Dala.
I was taught this recipe from the very talented and lovely Sri Lankan cook named Chinta of Happy Spice cooking school and restaurant. I was one of the lucky students to learn from this great cook before she moved on to (presumably) bigger and better things. I dedicate this most addictive and delicious dish to her and her old Happy Spice restaurant.
Ingredients (serves two):
6 garlic cloves
4 tsp Maldive fish (you can use anchovies or fish sauce instead) – optional
1 ½ tsp mustard seeds
½ lime juice
2-3 teaspoons chilli flakes
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon garam masala (ideally the Sri Lankan one but any will do)
½ teaspoon coriander powder
5 tbsp oil (coconut is the best)
5 – 6 curry leaves5 – 6 curry leaves
salt to taste
Slice the potato into cubes about 2cm wide and boil in salted water (salting the water will make the potatoes go extra crispy as well as flavouring them) until soft – this should take about 20 minutes.
Set the potatoes aside to cool, ideally in the fridge overnight. This will also help the potatoes to crisp up on the outside and will in fact make the potatoes more healthy to eat. But if you don’t have the luxury of time it doesn’t matter too much if you cook them straight away.
Cut the garlic and onion into small pieces. Mix all of the ingredients except the potatoes, mustard seeds and curry leaves (i.e. the onions, garlic, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, Maldive fish, chilli flakes) in a bowl.
Heat the oil in a frying pan/wok and add the mustard seeds. Only allow them to fry for a few seconds (otherwise they will go horribly bitter) before adding the curry leaves to fry for about 15 seconds.
Then add the mixture of all the other ingredients and fry for about 5 minutes until brown.
Then add the potatoes and fry for another 5 minutes.
Serve with rice and curry or alone with some raita and roti bread. We hope you enjoy this delicious fried potato curry!