Wednesday, 9 November 2016

vegan Sri Lankan Style Jackfruit Curry - Polos Ambula

This  is a very inauthentic take on a Sri Lankan Jackfruit Curry known as Polos Ambula.  

I say inauthentic for two reasons.  One I have adapted it to my vegetarian palette.  There is only one ingredient that makes it unsuitable and that is umbalakada (maldive fish powder) so it was easy to omit that and replace with vegan fish sauce alternative, tamari or even a dash of seaweed powder and therefore also accidentally vegan.  Two, I was unable to get my hold of some of the ingredients required to make this recipe as close to the original such as goraka (a sour - acidic fruity spice) and rampe (pandan).  The others such as karapincha (curry leaves), fresh and the dried variety, sera (lemongrass) and thunapaha (curry powder) can be found in most towns and cities in the UK. I also have to admit, I had to look these up the translation for most of these ingredients as I was unfamiliar with them and landed on very interesting blog referenced below.
Vegan Mofo prompt today Cook Something different'.  Yesterday I showcased a Cashew 'Cheese' which was new to me. Today I share a Sri Lankan dish called JackFruit Curry - Polos Ambula.  In my 8 years of food blogging, I have made Sri Lankan cuisine before, but not often enough. 

Aubergine, Black Bean Pepper Pot
Beetroot Coconut Curry 
Carrot and Cabbage Curry
Chilli coconut and Runner Beans Pie 
Chilli Coconut Relish Bulgar Wheat Salad
I have been wanting to make this Sri Lankan Jackfruit Curry for a long while. First delay was getting my hands on Jackfruit and then when I looked at the recipe closely, it demands a long list of spices that I was unfamiliar with as mentioned above.   Undeterred I decided to give this a go.  I am hoping to make it again and track down the ingredients to make Polos Ambula again and a little more properly, but here is it at first attempt.  I found myself automatically shredding the Jackfruit - vegetarian pulled 'pork' style, which it was not necessary as this dish is supposed to be served in chunks, so I will do that next time 

I finished it off by bathing it in some coconut milk, I use only half a can as I did not want it to drown.  I found the chilli a little harsh, perhaps this dish like many spicy dishes is better a day later.  If you put the pot in the oven and cook it slowly it will darken in colour too.
Please read this very interesting  and insightful blog post by Renuka of Fenugreek who gives more insight into Sri Lankan cooking and its ingredients and a wonderfully written blog post on how Sri Lankan people do things in threes.

vegan Sri Lankan Style Jackfruit Curry 
Serves 4 with rice
500g Jackfruit aka Polos, drained and rinsed well

2 - 4 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 medium onion, finely sliced
2 - 3 chillies, minced
1 teaspoon of vegan fish sauce or seaweed flakes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
small knob of fresh ginger, minced
1 stick of lemongrass aka sera, crushed
1 small Pandan leaf aka rampe
Sprig of curry leaves, preferably fresh aka karapincha 
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
2 teaspoons curry powder aka thunapaha
Salt to taste
Optional: some goraka also known as Indian tamarind
1/2 can of coconut milk
In a wide pan,heat the oil, then stir in the onion and saute until very tender.  Add all the spices, lemongrass, Pandan leaf, curry leaf and season to taste  
Cook for a few minutes before stirring in the Jackfruit chunks.
Saute for the jackfruit chunks to be covered in the spiced onion mixture, before pouring in the coconut milk.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook slowly under tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened and the jackfruit tender that it looks like its going to fall apart.
Best served the following day.
Adapted from Sri Lankan Food and Recipes 
Please see also 
Mirationology for Sri Lankan 40 Best Dishes
Plant Cafeteria version of Jackfruit Curry recipe does not have the long list of spices aboveA Taste of Sri Lanka Jackfruit Curry also lists accessible ingredients.  I also have the Jackfruit Fritters bookmarked to make. 


  1. This is a really novel use for jackfruit - full of interesting flavours! I love the way you've managed to snap the steam on the picture too!

  2. I think I would have automatically shredded the jackfruit too - I only think of it as a pulled pork substitute. This curry looks delicious! I'm often put off by long lists of unknown ingredients, but sometimes all the effort and little adaptions pay off!

    1. Ah good to know, that you'd be on auto mode too. Yes, the long list is off putting a bit, but sometimes where there is a will there is a way...or shall i say greed

  3. I have never made sri lankan food before. I'm not even sure I've ever had any at all. This dish sounds good! I really love coconut milk. I'm not always a huge fan of jack fruit, but I think I'd like the way it is prepared in this dish.
    Fresh lemongrass would be lovely, I haven't had any in ages.
    I think I would skip the chillies myself though as I'm not a huge spice fan.

    1. I've made another recently with beetroot, it was lovely. I can see where your coming from with Jackfruit, but i do like it bbq style.


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