The Art of the Cheat’s Kottu
Kottu is love, kottu is life. This much has always been clear to those of us who grew up eating this wonderful dish (which, in my personal opinion, should be declared the national dish already). The thing is, not all of us have the luxury of kipping down to Pillawoos for a spot of cheese kottu any night of the week or walking to the saivar nearby for a nice little parcel of steaming hot kottu. Therefore, for people like me, this recipe is the way to go. Of course, it’s not the kottu we know and love and grew up with, but this is possibly the best version of a substitute that you can make at home which tastes pretty darn good. I made this beauty for a particular Australian who devoured it in one go and demanded that I make more (looking at you, Boothey). Traditionally, kottu is made by chopping up godamba rotis, For those of you who can’t get them, either parathas from an Indian ship or tortillas from the supermarket would do just fine. I use the latter.
There are two ways to making this; you can either use Sri Lankan chicken curry, or you can use rotisserie chicken/roast chicken and season it with Sri Lankan spices. Using the curry means the seasoning of the actual Kottu takes care of itself, so I prefer that route.
However, if you prefer to buy roasted/rotisserie chicken, you would have to pick the chicken apart, toss it with turmeric, Chili flakes, curry powder and chili powder and fry it off in some oil before you add it to the kottu. Then, you would have to use those same spices to season the kottu as well. For this reason, using chicken curry is the easiest option.
I would also advise you to use either a wok, a wide, spacious saucepan or a large frying pan, especially if you are using chicken curry. A pan with a large diameter means the heat is conducted better and moisture evaporates faster, which is important if you are using chicken curry. A large wok would be ideal. If not, a large saucepan would do:
For those of you who have an outdoor barbecue grill that has a flat hot plate (and you’re motivated enough),I highly recommend using that as it is very similar to what real kottu shops use.
So here goes, my cheat’s version of chicken kottu (also remember this can be made with beef, lamb, pork, crab or completely vego).
15 tortillas, cut into short strips
1 leek, sliced, stem separated from the leaves
1 large/2 small carrots, grated
1kg chicken curry (recipe here for an authentic Sri Lankan chicken curry)
1 red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic
3 stems curry leaves
2 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbs oil
Salt/Pepper to taste
1. First step is to get all our ingredients together
The tortillas should be cut first into long strips, then into rectangular squares, as shown below.
As you can see, I have separated the greener leafy bits of the leek from the more tender white stem. This is because they cook differently to one another. The cling wrap is on there because I didn’t want the veggies drying out.
And of course, the chicken curry is of paramount. If you have a means of getting proper Sri Lankan chicken curry from a shop, use that. If not, it really is a rewarding experience to cook this at home. Look at how wonderful it is!
2. Oil in the pan. We start frying off the onion, garlic and curry leaves.
3. Once they’ve started to soften, add in HALF of the carrot and HALF of the leek leaf. Stir this through and allow to soften.