• 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped small
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 inch of a pandan leaf
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp seeded, minced jalapeno
  • 1 small tomato, chopped small
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 bunch radishes, julienned

Radishes = garnish. At least, that’s what I used to think. From peppery salad mix-ins to crisp taco toppings, radishes are rarely a leading lady.

So color me surprised when I realized the vegetable can be just as tasty in the limelight. Cooked radishes take on a whole new flavor – peppery and crunchy gives way to somewhat sweet and savory, kind of like a mild roasted turnip or other root vegetable. They’re great in a browned butter sauce or mixed with herbs and slowly roasted. They’re also great, Sri Lankan-style, courtesy of a recipe in Cook Kandalama Style.

This recipe has been adapted for home use, and with a few changes based on my personal taste. For example, the Cook Kandalama Style version includes dried red chiles in addition to jalapeno, which doesn’t jive with my complete intolerance to heat. And I didn’t see a point in peeling the radishes (besides, the color is pretty!)

Not to mention, I’m not sure how this should have been cooked. Many of the recipes in Cook Kandalama Style call for something “tempered”, and the name of this dish is “tempered radishes”. Try as I may I couldn’t find a good explanation of what ‘tempering’ something means, so I made best guesses with the cooking process. (Are you familiar with ‘tempering’? If so, fill us in in the comments!)

And bear in mind there’s a few unusual ingredients such as pandan leaves and curry leaves – these tend to be easy to find at asian grocery stores.

sri lankan radish ingredients

Adapted from Cook Kandalama Style
sri lankan radishes

  1. Heat oil in large skillet on medium
  2. Add onion, garlic, ginger, pandan leaf and curry leaf sprig. Cook until fragrant and onions begin to soften, stirring frequently. If your burners tend to run hot, lower the heat if needed to ensure the garlic doesn’t scorch.
  3. Add mustard seeds. Cook until they begin to pop
  4. Add jalapeno, tomato, black pepper and turmeric. Cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add radishes. Cook until they soften.

Serve alongside rice and flatbread.

Cook Kandalama Style suggests to serve the dish immediately, for it develops an unpleasant taste shortly after. I’m not sure if I agree. Yes, it becomes a little less attractive since the radish’s color fades over time, but I had just as good of a time eating it the next day.

Next time, I’ll try adding more curry leaves (they are yummy and crunching on the cooked version is a special treat) and a bit more mustard seeds.

I do recommend pairing the dish with garlic naan, as the garlic lends itself wonderfully to the more subdued flavors of the radishes.


sri lankan radish goodness