WILDCARD | Far Eastern Odyssey

The WILDCARD: a recipe chosen each month by my husband Matt. And boy has he done well this month!

Matt chose Spicy Beef and Vegetable-Stuffed Gothamba Rotis : a classic street food dish from Sri Lanka.  Rick Stein describes them as ‘a sort of Sri Lankan meat-and-veg pie’ that should be eaten ‘hot from the pan, squirted with chilli sauce’. Oh yes.

The first step is to make the Gothamba Roti dough which will encase the meat and veg filling.  It’s a really simple recipe of plain flour, water and ghee.  It was really quite wet though, so I ended up adding quite a bit of extra flour so that I could knead it. I’ve worked with a very wet dough in the past for other recipes, but somehow I just knew this wasn’t right here. It can depend on your flour anyway can’t it?

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I LOVE the smell of ghee! There’s just something about it: it’s sweet and fragrant, and delicious.

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While the dough was resting for an hour, I made the filling:  Onion, garlic, minced beef, crushed dried chilli, curry powder, cabbage, carrot, leek, peas and mashed potato.  On the board, these ingredients looked very familiar in comparison to some of the more exotic ingredients I’ve been cooking with this month, but once cooked, there was nothing British about it.  It smelt so god damn good!  The Sri Lankan curry powder is so beautiful: a mix of roasted rice, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, fenugreek, cloves, cardamom, black mustard seeds, black peppercorns, chillies and turmeric.

Matt had popped out when I started cooking this, and when he walked in the house, he shouted ‘wow! what is that? Smells amazing!’ . He was pretty impressed with himself when I told him it was the WILDCARD recipe he’d chosen.

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Time to wrap the filling. I had to read and reread the instructions quite a few times before making my first attempt at this. So rather than even trying to describe the process, I will instead show you, with step by step photos.  And yes, the finished gothamba rotis should be rectangular. No pressure.

The dough is divided into twelve balls and rolled in a bowl of oil. Each one is then smoothed out into a circle on a plate, which is made easy because of the oil.  This was so much fun! I’ve never done anything like this before.

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You then measure a portion of the filling, and shape it into a rectangular block using a palette knife.

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Once in position, you take each side of the dough and fold inwards. Then fold up the bottom, before ‘rolling’ the block of filling upwards until completely encased by the circle of dough.

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I thought I did alright! Some of them were better than others, but they looked pretty good! Cooked in batches in a non-stick frying pan, they were ready to eat.  Chilli sauce in hand, we got stuck in.

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SO good. The dough was cooked through but soft with an almost crisp-cooked outside.  The filling was so moreish and comforting – I can see now why Rick likens them to the British meat-and-veg pie. I think it’s the potato.  It binds everything together and gives them a great stodginess, in a good way.  We didn’t quite eat all twelve in one sitting, but we gave it a good go!

I’ll be making these again, no doubt about it.  Try them. Please.

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