Bring back the choko to the Australian dinner table with this adaptation of a simple Sri Lankan white vegetable curry.

Choko White Curry

This is a standard white curry made using chokos, the once ubiquitous vine that adorned outside toilets - dunnies - in many an Australian backyard. From dunnies they made their way to dinner tables via choko pickles or baked and doused with butter sitting beside roast lamb and gravy.
They have made a comeback in the last few years through the influence of Asian migrants and have been appearing in my local farmers' market, whence I have made a Sri Lankan choko curry that has gone down well with folk.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Sri Lankan
Keyword choko, white curry
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4


  • 2 chokos
  • 50 gms onion or shallot
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 or 2 green or red chillies
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 stick cinnamon (about 8 - 10 cm long)
  • 500 mls thick coconut milk made from powdered milk or canned coconut milk
  • 1 lime
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil


  • Peel the 2 chokos. You may find your chokos are a little old and have a milky sticky sap under the skin. Peel these ones under running cold water.
  • Cut the 2 chokos in half from top to bottom.
  • Use the teaspoon to scoop out the core and seed of the choko, You want to get as much of the tough core out as you can.
  • Chop the chokos into bite sized chunks.
  • Grind together 1 tbsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds, 1/4 tbsp fenugreek seeds and 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds as fine as you can. Use a mortar and pestle, a fit-for-purpose spice grinder or a coffee bean grinder.
  • Chop the 50 gms onion or shallot into small pieces.
  • Chop the 1 or 2 green or red chillies into small pieces.
  • Chop the garlic into small pieces.
  • Make the 500 ml of coconut milk by mixing 4 tablespoons of powdered coconut milk in 500 ml of hot water. If using canned coconut milk, mix 2 tbsp of the milk in 500 ml of hot water.
  • Pour the oil in the saucepan and heat it for a minute or two.
  • Add the 50 g chopped onion or shallot and cook till they are softened.
  • Add 1 tsp black mustard seeds, 1 clove chopped garlic, 1 tsp turmeric.
  • Strip the leaves off a sprig of curry leaf and add them to the pan. Be careful, they may spit as they sizzle - so toss them in and stand back,
  • Add the ground coriander, cumin, fennel and fenugreek to the pan.
  • Ad the cinnamon stick.
  • Fry this all up for a minute or two, moving it around gently with a wooden spoon or othre cooking spoon.
  • Add the 500 ml coconut milk.
  • Add a pinch of salt.
  • Bring this gravy to a simmer and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the 2 peeled and chopped chokos.
  • Cook on a gentle heat for 20 minutes or until you can just push a skewer into the chokos.
  • Just before serving, squeeze 1 lime over the chokos.