Reasons to Love Minnesota No. 150: The Curry Diva

A Sri Lankan feast from Chef Heather Jansz

Ayurvedic spice blends and dairy- and gluten-free grub aren’t fly-by-night food trends at Heather Jansz’s weekly Curry Diva pop-up. It’s just how the chef’s traditional dishes are made.⁣⁣⁣
Local diners first discovered Jansz’s cooking at Sri Lanka Curry House in the late ‘70s. The beloved Minneapolis restaurant — and Curry Leaf Deli, its short-lived sister eatery in St. Paul — had a cult following right up to its closing in 1998. That’s when Jansz decided to take a break from the restaurant business and explore other culinary avenues, including catering, private chef projects, and the co-authoring of a cookbook, Fire & Spice: The Cuisine of Sri Lanka, with former Star Tribune reporter Karin Winegar.

The Colombo native got back in the restaurant game part-time in 2014, when Our Kitchen owner Danny Ziegler asked if she wanted to take over his tiny East Harriet diner two nights a week. Word of Curry Diva’s family-style meals and spicy seasonal dishes spread like wildfire.⁣⁣
After multiple attempts to score a reservation at Jansz’s intimate twice-a-week dinners (held every Wednesday and Saturday at 6:30 and 7:45 p.m.), we finally lucked out in late February. The meal cost $25 per person and came with so much food, we had leftovers for days. Little did we know that this would be one of Curry Diva’s last proper seatings before the COVID-19 shutdown. ⁣⁣⁣

Jansz has switched to a curbside menu until further notice. Pickup is available on Wednesday and Saturday nights and the price has dropped to $16. That’ll still get you a hefty takeout container of Sri Lankan staples such as garam masala chicken, slow-cooked lentils, turmeric rice, and stir-fried vegetables like green beans and eggplant laced with cinnamon, mustard seed, cardamom, black pepper, cloves, coriander, and cumin. To-go containers of Jansz’s homemade condiments – shredded coconut sambol and sweet-and-spicy chutney — help you kick it up at home. A side order of roti ties everything together.⁣⁣⁣
Pre-orders can be made by emailing curry.diva@gmail.com or texting 612-250-6556. (Don’t forget to specify meat vs. vegetarian.) The sooner you order, the better — Jansz only makes so much food each week, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. 🔥

The Curry Diva
Our Kitchen, 813 W. 36th St., Minneapolis, MN; 612-250-6556.