A taste of home: Ira cooks watakolu curry

By PANGYAO_Official on 21st Feb 2023


Introducing Ira


IRA GREW UP in Sri Lanka surrounded by fond memories of food. She recalls coming home after school around the same time her Dad was returning from his government job; just before heading to her after-school tutorial, her Mum would prepare a simple but tasty curry over rice for them to share.


“We had rice three times a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We very rarely had bread; the times that we did it felt like a birthday cake!” laughs Ira. You can try a great selection of Sri Lankan dishes freshly prepared by Ira at The Waterfront Bar & Restaurant on Lamma Island. For Pangyao, she shares her recipe for watakolu curry, a popular dish in Sri Lankan households and one of her personal favourites.\

About watakolu curry


Watakolu – better known as ridged gourd or sponge gourd in English – is a nutritious green vegetable that is both high in fibre and low in calories.


The vegetable itself is only edible while still unripe; the ripe gourd is so fibrous that it can be used as a natural loofah.


The taste of watakolu is quite mild, so it is best cooked in a sauce. Homemade watakolu curry is a staple in the Sri Lankan countryside, where the vegetable is grown in abundance.


Made with a coconut milk base, watakolu curry takes less than 10 minutes to cook, perfect for a quick, healthy meal.


·      1 watakolu, peeled but leaving most skin on, cut into spears

·      4 cloves garlic

·      ¾ of a red onion

·      4 green chillies

·      1 tsp grated ginger

·      10 curry leaves

·      400ml coconut milk

·      100ml water

·      2 tbsp cooking oil

Dry ingredients


·      ½ tsp turmeric

·      1 tsp Ira’s special homemade curry powder mix (you can use any curry powder mix)

·      ½ tsp ground fenugreek seeds

·      salt to taste



1.    Add the cooking oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot, sauté the garlic, onion, chillies, ginger, and curry leaves together to release the flavours, for about 2 minutes. Add the turmeric and curry powder and mix well

2.    Add the watakolu and mix it in well, then add the coconut milk and water. Cook for about 3 minutes until the watakolu is translucent

3.    Finally, add the ground fenugreek seeds and salt to taste. Serve over warm rice