Baabath curry is a traditional tripe curry from Sri Lanka.
Although they are not the most widely appreciated and are often criticized, tripes are excellent pieces to cook. If some chefs have learned how to sublimate pieces like sweetbread or liver, the belly, tongue, feet and kidneys remain the unloved cuts in our meat markets. Yet how many have chefs and cooks all around the world have been able to elevate these sometimes unappetizing cuts? How many tripe delicacies do we count in the world gastronomy?
What is baabath curry?
Baabath curry requires very little effort, the making of the sauce is easy, the cutting (you can ask his butcher to do it) and the simmering only takes an hour at most. The result is sensational, the tripe is melting, as it soaks up all the flavors of the spices. In neighboring India, beef consumption is a taboo. In Sri Lanka, however, the Malay Muslim community is happy to prepare this delicious recipe of baabath curry.
This dish is typical of the Colombo region of the island, still known as “Slave Island”. It was the Dutch settlers who provided these less expensive cuts of meat to the population at the time of slaughter. Even today, baabath (or tripe) is the main ingredient of many Sri Lankan dishes such as this recipe or pastrols, a tripe-stuffed pastry, crispy on the outside and melting on the inside. There are also simply fried liver or lung recipes. Among Muslims, the festival of Eid is an opportunity to eat and many prefer a tripe dish to more “classic” pieces of meat. These dishes were served at breakfast and dinner for a long time. Baabath curry is often accompanied by rice or puttu, a steamed cylinder of ground rice layered with coconut.
South Asians have long understood that they could feed many mouths by transforming all or almost all of the animal and what more clever than an extraordinarily fragrant curry to make the tripe more attractive.
The honeycomb is the name of this cut, helps enhance strong and generous aromatic sauces. Here, coconut, lemongrass and various spices give it a very good and lasting aroma, an appetizing color and subtle and delicate perfumes because, let’s admit it, tripe is not very fragrant and it is necessary to use spices and other ingredients to make it so delectable. A bit like pasta or rice actually…
In the end, the tripe really supports the sauce and who better than the Sri Lankans to make wonderful sauces like the one of this baabath curry? They know how to be as inventive to prepare tripe as to prepare any saucy dish. A little time and a lot of love and this is an opportunity to enjoy a magnificent dish together. The whole Mediterranean basin and a large part of the Middle Eastern world are also full of tripe recipes where they are still very much appreciated. In Sri Lanka, you can order a rice and curry to have fun, whether it is with chicken, crab, shrimp and of course tripe, as in baabath curry. It is a very popular dish that is easily found in the markets.
When we talk about offal, people’s imagination goes wild and it is often a problem with culinary education. For example, when you mention the tongue to people, they immediately imagine this one moving in the mouth of a cow. Why don’t we think the same when it comes to a roast chicken or beef ribs? Definitely not the same perception. Every offal blind taste proves it! Young and old systematically love offal and children often ask for more. This meat is not very high in calories, but it is rich in iron, is very economical and is very easy to cook. In addition, some butchers make a real effort to get tripe ready to use and easy to prepare. You can freeze tripe, warm it up, prepare it in a very easy way! Nevertheless, it can be difficult to find tripe close to you as they become rare.
We had a lot of fun preparing this Sri Lankan baabath curry and enjoyed it too. Most of the ingredients are quite easy to obtain and you can often order tripe pre-cooked at your butcher. If they are not pre-cooked, the tripe can be tedious to clean and would require a little time and organization.
Baabath curry is a delicious traditional Sri Lankan tripe curry, prepared with coconut, lemongrass and various fragrant spices.
- 2 lb honeycomb tripe
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3 curry leaves
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1 pandanus leaf
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 stems lemongrass , crushed
- 6 cloves cardamom
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 large onion , finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic , chopped
- 1 (2-inch) piece ginger , finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups coconut milk
- Juice of a lime
- 1 cup water (cold)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Soak the tripe in cold water for 5 minutes.
- Wash well by changing the water several times.
- Cut into 2-inch squares and blanch for 2 minutes in a large amount of boiling water over a high heat.
- Drain well and dry.
- In a dry frying pan, roast the coriander seeds, stirring constantly, until they are fragrant and darker in color.
- Roast cumin seeds the same way.
- Using a mortar, crush the coriander and cumin seeds until they are ground.
- In a large Dutch oven, preferably cast iron, sauté the onion and tripe for a few minutes.
- Add all other ingredients except half of the coconut milk. Stir well and bring to a boil.
- Cover and simmer over medium heat for 1 hour or until tripe is tender.
- Stir in reserved coconut milk and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.