Sri Lankan Dhal Curry (Parippu):
Sri Lankan dhal is thick, a perfectly cooked balance of of mash and lentils, a serendipitous blend of spices in coconut milk with a kick of chili to make it interesting.
Fresh curd and kithul treacle (made from jaggery). The curd (Buffalo milk) is rich, creamy and delicious – yoghurt by any other name, tart and tangy, the treacle like a marriage of golden and maple syrups.
King Coconut supposedly these only grow in Sri Lanka and apart from being a refreshing thirst quencher the Sri Lankans swear to their health-giving properties.
Gotukola Sambal: The translations say this is pennywort, but since I’ve never seen let alone tasted pennywort before I’ll have to take their word. You CRAVE green veggies in India and Sri Lanka so this is a delight. It’s a raw Sri Lankan salad with spices, grated coconut and onion…& delicious.
Beetroot Curry: they boil the bejesus out of the beetroot with a multiplicity of spices with fresh curry leaves and cinnamon predominant so it doesn’t bear any relationship to Edgell’s delicacy. It’s chunky and a great foil for the other curries.
Kottu Roti – you hear the chop-chop-chop as you approach the Kottu roti stands. Think of fried rice but made with chopped up roti bread instead. Delicious and varied. Everyone has their own mix of veggies and spices. Made with chicken or egg as well. Yum.
Brinjal Eggplant (Wambatu Moju) I love eggplant in every permutation but this sweet chutneyesque caramelized version was delicious. Once again cooked til it falls apart, with soy sauce and sugar. Another dish that lifts the Sri Lankan curries out of this world.
Spicy coconut (Pol Sambola) served with everything – it’s shredded coconut with chilli, lime juice and onions. The texture once again adds that extra something to the curries.
Coconut Roti – wholemealy and rustic coconut rotis are cooked in coconut oil with fresh coconut in the batter.
(Below) The Chicken Curry at Mama’s, by the lighthouse in Galle. Sri Lankan curries are hotter and individually distinct – a hint of cinnamon here, ginger there, a pinch of asafoetida; a myriad of different flavours. Served with this are the delicious sambals (spicy, creamy, fragrant) and vegetable dishes/curries (tart, salty, sweet or intriguing). It’s always a great culinary journey of discovery.
Fresh hot chili peanuts served on trains and everywhere in little newspaper cornets these are tiny full-flavoured peanuts with a salty slightly sweet spicy chili punch.
Vegetarian triangles or balls (fried rotis or samosas) : these are like little fried pierogis filled with a very spicy curried potato. They are chewy, delectable and decadent. They also come in a spicy fish version.
String Hoppers: thin rice noodles shaped as circles that replace rice for soaking up curries, they can be melt-in-your-mouth or like chewing rubber bands.
Tea – so good here one doesn’t despoil it with milk. Fresh, aromatic, heady with fragrance.