Friday, March 23, 2012

The Anatomy of a Sri Lankan Meal

Honestly we are not fans of Sri Lankan cuisine for three main reasons:
  1. It is HOT, HOT and HOT. 
  2. I feel like all the world’s spices converged into a dish.
  3. Curry overload.

Those three reasons may also be the exact reasons why a lot of other people – both locals and foreigners – just love the cuisine.  But for hubby and I, our taste buds never really got to the point where we just craved for it.  That doesn’t mean to say that we never enjoyed it, we actually did!  When it’s not too hot and when the spices are toned down.  The curry, well there really is no escaping it. 

So how does a typical Sri Lankan meal look like?

Hubby's Favorite Papadam, best with Mango Chutney

The usual spread - enjoyed over at The Ark for my birthday trip

Another spread this time at the Tea Trails for our honeymoon
Wattalapam ala Tea Trails
Well it is a smorgasbord of curry dishes.  Ok fine not really.  But it usually consists of at least two curry dishes: one vegetable and one protein.  It is highlighted with a few side dishes such as papadam with mango chutney, pickles (our favorite is the roasted brinjals/eggplant) and sambol.  The best part is, since it is super hot, they tend to put a mountain of rice.  Now that scores well in my books!  Of course let us not forget dessert!  There are a lot of Sri Lankan desserts like curd with treacle (like honey) or the Wattalapam – a custard cake similar to our Leche Flan.    

What I learned is when you eat Sri Lankan food in a resort or touristy restaurant, they would tone down the flavors a bit.  If your mouth may not necessarily take in the heat, tell them that you want it mild.  NO SHAME.  Because the hot that you know, multiply that 10 times and that’s the regular in Sri Lanka.  Also do not get shocked when you see them eating with their hands, Sri Lankan food apparently is finger-lickin’ good!  Yes even in office canteens and restaurants!

So Sri Lankan food is not for the faint-hearted.  Brace yourself for an explosion of flavors and spices.  It’s pretty awesome how one meal is one great big adventure! 

For authentic Sri Lankan dining in the city, check out Nuga Gama in Cinnamon Grand or Green Cabin along Galle Road.  A friend of mine also said Sri Lankan food is good at Renuka Hotel (I haven't tried it though!).

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