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My Wambatu Moju

Forever on the hunt for new combinations, I came across this little side dish, Wambatu Moju, from Sri Lanka. This recipe, I thought, will be perfect for Spiceweek. I've just put down my knife and fork and the verdict is out: it is delicious, and slightly different to what is traditional. I recommend trying the traditional version too, and this one for something a little more adventurous, depending on where you come from. Recipe follows.

Ingredients (for 2)

1 Aubergine, cut into cm thing rings

6 Fresh Sardine Fillets

50g Tray Pickled Anchovies (the ones in vinegar, not the salty ones!)

1 White (or orange, they taste the same) Carrot, peeled and sliced lengthways about 4mm thick

1 Red Onion, finely sliced

3 Green Chilies, finely chopped

4 Cloves of garlic, 2 finely chopped, 2 peeled

1 Inch of Ginger, peeled.

1 Lime, two strips of peel cut off

1/2 Teaspoon Mustard Seeds

2 Green Tomatoes, one finely chopped

2 Bay Leaves

2 Curry Leaves (fresh if possible)

1 Tsp Coriander Powder

Coriander Flakes

2 Tbsp Lemon Juice

White Wine Vinegar

1 Teaspoon of Honey

Vegetable oil




Get out a non-stick frying pan. In one frying pan, coat the bottom with a thick layer of oil. Turn to a medium heat, and fry the aubergines on each side until brown on each side. Aubergines want to burn like crazy, so hawk them so they don't overcook. Dry with a paper towel when done.

In the remaining oil, saute the chopped garlic, onion, chopped tomato, bay leaves, curry leaves, coriander powder and chilies. Add the lemon juice. Saute until the mixture is dark. Lightly season, then mix with half the anchovies. Remove the bay and curry leaves.

In another pan or pot, pour 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar. Cut 5 thin discs off the inch of ginger and add it to the vinegar. Soak the carrots in the vinegar for 5 minutes, then cover the carrots with water and turn the element/gas on, to a high setting. Cook away the water/vinegar mixture. The carrots will become slightly tender, but still maintain crunch.

In a blender, blend together the remaining tomato, a quarter of a lime, skin removed, 1 teaspoon of coriander flakes, the rest of the ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, a couple of lugs of olive oil and a teaspoon of honey. Blend until smooth. Salt to taste.

Finally, gently fry the sardines in a little oil until cooked

Traditionally, you'd mix the sauce in with the aubergines and onion mixture. Instead I put down the carrot underneath, the aubergine on top. Dot a couple of dabs of the sauce on each bit of aubergine, then the anchovy/onion mixture on top, finally followed by the sardine fillet. A sprinkle of salt and pepper for good measure.


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