Street Food with Jon Lewin

The Local's Cookbook

During our time in Portugal for Tatiana and Dave’s wedding, we had time to catch up with Jon Lewin who had been enlisted as official photographer. Jon is the author of The Local’s Cookbook – a collection of recipes and stunning photography of his culinary journey through Sri Lanka which we featured earlier this year. With Jon’s kind permission we are featuring some of his recipes over the coming months.

Here we have two dishes that complement one another –

Ulundu Vadai, which is a kind of savoury donut with an accompanying Green Chilli Coconut Chutney



  • 300g urid/urad dhal
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 10 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 red onions, finely chopped
  • 3 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh curry leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 500 ml vegetable oil


Soak the dhal in water for 3-4 hours. Drain thoroughly, place in a food processor and blend until you have a smooth paste.

Add the garlic, shallots, onions, green chillies, curry paste, salt and pepper to the dhal and mix thoroughly by hand until everything is evenly distributed.

Lay a piece of cling film on a chopping board or work surface. Place a piece of the mixture about the size of a golf ball on the cling film and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Using your finger, make a hole in the centre. Repeat until all the mixture is used.

Place your wok on a low heat and add the oil.

When the oil is hot but not smoking, carefully peel the donuts off the cling film and place in the hot oil, a few at a time.

Deep fry until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and allow to cool slightly before serving.




  • 5 green chillies, roughly chopped
  • ½ red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2.5 cm piece of ginger, grated
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 150g freshly grated coconut flesh
  • 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  • 3 tbsp coconut milk
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper


Put the chopped chilli, onion, ginger and garlic into a large pestle and mortar and grind to a smooth paste.

Add the remaining ingredients and continue to grind until everything is combined and you’re happy with the consistency. Personally I like it a bit rough and ready, but make it as smooth as you like.

Alternatively, throw everything into a food processor and blitz to a paste.

Serve with warm Ulundu Vadai




Jon’s book The Local’s Cookbook can be purchased at priced £20

ISBN 978-0-9934597-0-2





All Articles