Lotus Root Curry (Nelum Ala)

Lotus Root Curry (Nelum Ala)

Lotus Root

Lotus root isn’t something we eat a lot of in the UK and you’ll rarely see lotus root dishes, let alone lotus root curry,  in most Asian restaurants. Yet if you go into any Asian supermarket, you’ll find a basket full of it!

So here it is, discover this easy to cook vegetable and don’t be afraid of something new!! It’s pretty, looks great in the centre of a table and will impress any guest!

It has a wonderful crunchy texture with a delicate, subtle flavour. You could even thinly slice any leftovers and make crisps!! Lotus root is perfect for this (Asian people often deep fry the slices to make crunchy crisps).

It’s OK to buy lotus root frozen or even canned! If you buy fresh, you have to make sure you buy lovely firm roots with no blemishes or marks and then wash really well as these things grow in muddy water that is full of parasites and nasty bugs! Even when peeled, really rinse out those channels!

Some pretty awesome facts about lotus root:

  • It’s high in vitamin C
  • Great source of dietary fibre, but low in calories
  • A good source of a range of minerals such as zinc, magnesium, iron
  • Versatile and can be used in soups, tempura dishes, salads, the limit is your imagination!
  • Commonly used in traditional medicine in China to relieve digestive issues (though ironically, could cause stomach problems if eaten raw)

Lotus Root Curry Powder

If you look online, you’ll find quite a few recipes for Sri Lankan lotus root curry (Nelum Ala), but they nearly all tell you just to add “roasted curry powder”. That’s not particularly helpful, as there is no such thing as any single curry powder! It’s highly cultural, and the blends will differ according to the curry you make!

Well, we can thank Dini at the Flavour Blender for this spice blend recipe. It’ll make quite a batch, and you may scale it down if you just want enough to make one curry – but I think you’ll be making this again anyway!

Dini cleverly calls this the 4321 / 321 recipe as that’s the ratios in tablespoons and teaspoons of the spices you need:

  • 4 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 3 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns + uncooked rice
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 3 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp cardamom seeds (remove from pods and discard the seeds) – I’ve assumed this is green cardamom by the way, purely because of the photo she posted with it.
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds

Lightly roast the spices in a dry frying pan or spice pan until fragrant, allow to cool and then blend into a powder using a pestal and mortar or a coffee bean or spice grinder.

You can keep this tightly sealed in an air-tight spice container for up to around 6 months or until it stops having a lovely rich aroma when you open the lid.

Lotus Root Curry

Lotus Root Curry

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Sri Lankan
Servings 4 people
Calories 322 kcal


  • 350 g Lotus root Peeled, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium Tomatoes chopped
  • 2 Shallots Peeled and chopped
  • 10 Curry leaves if you can get them dried versions are available in most supermarkets
  • 1 tbsp Curry powder If you can get Sri Lankan curry powder great - if not, garam masala is fine
  • 2 tsp Ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 2 Green chilli birds-eye chilli Chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic chopped
  • 1 tsp Fenugreek seeds
  • pinch Salt
  • 400 g Coconut milk 1 standard can
  • 1 tbsp Rapeseed or vegetable oil


  • If you're using fresh lotus root, then peel, thoroughly wash and thinly slice
  • Into a pan, fry the shallots, chilli and garlic until tender and then add all the spices and cook for a further minute or two.
  • Add tomatoes, lotus root and cover with the coconut milk; cook for about 10 minutes until the lotus root is tender (but not mushy)

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