It was an exciting moment when the young man drew Sri Lanka out second, it was a country I really wanted to appear in this challenge because I knew exactly what I was going to make. Many years ago I worked as a travel agent and one of the companies I was employed with was a Sri Lankan family business. During my time there I was introduced to several of their fiery hot curries yet it was their greasy deep-fried snacks known as short eats that remain to this day as my favourite part of Sri Lankan cuisine.
After sampling many of these types of snacks, pan rolls became my favourite short eat and when I introduced the man to them he was hooked too. They resemble a large spring roll that has been crumbed and fried and the spiced, peppery filling inside is irresistible. Traditionally pan rolls are contained inside a pancake before being crumbed and fried which is where the name comes from. I took a shortcut with my version and used spring roll wrappers to cut down on preparation time and because I was fearful about pancakes falling apart.
Most of the ingredients are easy to come by although there are a couple of unique components to the dish like pepper powder and pandan or rampe leaves. I purchased pepper powder from a Sri Lankan spice shop ages ago for the sole purpose of using it in these rolls but I haven't been able to determine whether it is a different type of pepper to the standard black variety that is widely used around the world. Pandan leaves have a mild flavour and aroma and are often used to flavour desserts. There is one across the back of the top photo if you are interested in what they look like.
A few months ago I had my first attempt at making pan rolls which were a huge success even though I had been a little heavy handed with the spices. I didn't post the recipe at the time as I wanted to fine tune it a little but when I came to making them this time I couldn't locate my notes! This time around the pan rolls weren't spicy enough so at least I have recorded this effort now and will get the spices perfect next time around. I couldn't bear to serve up just fried food for dinner so I went served this with a fantastic Sri Lankan cashew curry from the soon to be released Vegan Eats World.
Edited to add (29/10/2012): The recipe has been modified slightly after making a better version and I have also included cooking times for a deep fryer.
Sri Lankan pan rolls
750g potatoes, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2cm piece ginger, minced
3 birds eye chillies, finely chopped (reduce the amount for a milder version)
300g carrots, finely diced
1 ½ - 2 teaspoons pepper powder (depending on your pepper tolerance)
1 ½ - 2 teaspoons salt
12 curry leaves
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh pandan (rampe) leaves OR
2 stalks frozen pandan leaves cut into 5cm pieces
½ cup water
1 cup frozen peas
10-12 25cm spring roll wrappers
soy milk (or other non-dairy milk) and breadcrumbs, for coating
peanut oil, for shallow or deep frying
Place the potatoes in a saucepan filled with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until very soft. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a deep sided frying pan over medium heat. Fry the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli for 5 minutes or until the onions have softened. Stir through the carrots, pepper powder, salt, curry leaves, pandan leaves and water, cover and cook on low for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and mash them lightly into the mixture with a wooden spoon, then stir through the peas and allow them to cook until thawed. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly. If using frozen pandan leaves, remove the stalks from the mixture.
Spoon about ¼ cup of the mixture into each spring roll sheet. Roll each one up to enclose the filling. Dunk each roll into soy milk then the breadcrumbs and transfer to a clean plate.
Heat the peanut oil in a deep sided frying pan, wok or deep fryer. If not using a deep fryer, test the readiness of the oil by sprinkling in some breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs will sizzle immediately when the oil is ready. In you have a deep fryer, set the temperature to 180C.
Fry the pan rolls in batches for a couple of minutes on each side until lightly browned or deep fry for 5 minutes. Drain the excess oil on paper towels and enjoy!
Did you know?
Sri Lanka was the first country in the world to have a democratically elected head of state who was a woman.
Do you want to know where else I've been this month? Click here for the round up.