Pea Tendrils with Coconut (Mallum)

This is a mallum (sometimes transcribed mallung), a traditional dish from Sri Lanka that is often made with wild greens. The variety of greens used to make mallums in Sri Lanka is staggering, a testimony to the tropical lushness of the island.

We’re such big fans of mallums that back home in North America we started to experiment with a variety of greens. This recipe, using fresh pea tendrils, or pea shoots, is a favorite. Notice that everything is simply put into a pot and cooked together. There’s no oil for frying, no water for boiling other than the water clinging to the washed greens. Just follow the recipe and see what happens.


  • ½ pound pea tendrils (about 8 cups chopped, loosely packed)
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen grated coconut
  • 2 green cayenne chiles, finely chopped
  • ⅓ to ½ cup shallots, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric


  1. Wash the pea tendrils and drain.
  2. Gather them into a tight bundle and finely slice crosswise.
  3. Combine with all the other ingredients in a medium heavy pot and mix well.
  4. Place over high heat and cook, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute.
  5. Then cover tightly and cook for about 3 minutes, until the pea tendrils have wilted and the shallots are tender. Serve on a flat plate.


This makes an easy and welcome green vegetable side with a meal of roast or grilled chicken, Potato White Curry (page 155), and rice.


Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent


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Pea Tendrils with Coconut (Mallum)