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Karan's Mussel Hodi

Karan Gokani, chef & author of Hoppers: The Cookbook

Serves: 4 as a starter

Karan's Mussel Hodi
Photo by:  

Ryan Wijayaratne

Excerpted from Hoppers: The Cookbook: Recipes, Memories and Inspiration from Sri Lankan Homes, Streets and Beyond by Karan Gokani. Copyright © 2022. Available from Hardie Grant Publishing.

Mussels are one of those underrated, great value, sustainable products that ought to be used a lot more. Clams and cockles are popular in stir-fries and curries back home, but I prefer the sweeter, plumper mussels and find any opportunity I can to cook with them. They are dead easy to prepare and cook and cost a fraction of what you’d pay for a lot of other shellfish. I first cooked this dish at an event held at a friend’s pub; it was meant to be a Sri Lankan take on the classic Moules Frites. The dish was so popular that we ended up introducing it on our menu at our Kings Cross restaurant. We serve it with string hoppers, great for soaking up the gorgeous curry, and a samphire sambol.

Cook's Note:Prepare the mussels before cooking by rinsing well in clean water and scrubbing away any grit from the surface, then pulling away the beards. Check for any mussels that are open and discard any that won’t close when given a sharp tap on the worktop.

If you want to get ahead, you can prepare this recipe up to the end of step 1 and keep the sauce chilled in the fridge. Heat it up when you’re ready to cook the mussels.

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  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ⅓ teaspoon Sugandhi Fenugreek
  • 9 centimeter (3½ in) Wild Cinnamon Quill
  • 165 grams (5¾ oz) red onion (approx. 1 medium onion), finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 lemongrass sticks, cut into 5 centimeter (2 in) pieces
  • 12–15 curry leaves
  • ¾ teaspoon Pragati Turmeric
  • 400ml (14 fl oz) coconut milk
  • 2 green chillies, halved lengthways
  • ½ teaspoon Surya Salt
  • 600g (1lb 5oz) live mussels, washed and beards removed (see note)
  • Juice of ½ lime


  1. Heat the oil in a large, lidded saucepan over a medium heat. Add the fenugreek and cinnamon and fry for 30 seconds, then add the onion, garlic, lemongrass and curry leaves and continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly until soft but not coloured. Add the turmeric and cook for a further 15 seconds, stirring to ensure it doesn’t catch and burn. Stir in the coconut milk and green chillies, bring to a simmer and leave to cook gently for 4 minutes, being careful not to let it boil.
  2. Taste the sauce and season to taste, leaving it underseasoned to allow for the salty mussels. With the sauce on a high simmer, add the mussels to the pan, cover with a lid and leave to cook for 2–3 minutes. Shake the pan every 30 seconds or so; this will help the mussels to cook and open evenly. After 3 minutes, discard any remaining mussels that have not opened and stir through the lime juice. Garnish with chilli oil and samphire sambol, before serving immediately with String Hoppers, rice or by itself.

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