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Nelum Ala Curry (Lotus Root Curry)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
Lotus root or nelum ala curry is a traditional curry from Sri Lanka, cooked with coconut milk, vibrant spices, and typically served with a hot sauce.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Sri Lankan, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 4 people
Author: Mike Benayoun
  • 1 lb lotus roots (fresh or frozen), sliced
  • 1 red onion , thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic , pressed
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi)
  • 3 teaspoons yellow curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 pandanus leaf , cut into a dozen ½ inch/1cm pieces
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1 (14 oz) can light coconut milk
  • 1 (14 oz) can thick coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons sambal sauce (or equivalent)
  • 1 green chili pepper , finely chopped
  1. In a pan with hot oil, add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds.
  2. When the seeds begin to pop, add half the onion and sauté for a few minutes.
  3. Add the lotus roots, 2 garlic cloves, curry (spice blend), turmeric, curry leaves and half of the pandanus leaves.
  4. Continue to sauté for 2 minutes so that the lotus is covered with spices and herbs.
  5. Add the light coconut milk and stir for 2 minutes. Pour the thick coconut milk. It is not necessary to use all the can but you may adjust based on how rich you want the sauce to be.
  6. Cover the pan and simmer until lotus roots are tender enough. Depending on the thickness of the lotus slices, it may take 10 to 15 minutes.
Hot sauce
  1. In a skillet, sauté a little oil, add sambal (spicy sauce), green hot pepper, one garlic clove, a few pandanus leaves and the rest of the red onion. Sauté for a few minutes.
  2. At serving time, add one tablespoon (or more) of this concoction to spice up your lotus curry.