Heading to an exotic place is always an exciting sensory experience. New sights, smells, customs and most importantly – new tastes.
A recent trip to the island of Sri Lankan taught me that it is the very epitome of life, colour and flavour and the food is a perfect reflection of that.
Food is everywhere in Sri Lanka. You may see a giant bunch of bananas pass you on a bicycle, or notice the frequent and varied street food stalls selling tropical fruits, vegetables, fried snacks and King Coconuts to drink on the sides of roads all over the country.
Whether you are a seasoned “chilliphile” or have never eaten curry before, Sri Lankan food is so much more than just painfully hot! It is aromatic, full of complex flavours, using many different spices, fresh ingredients and textures.
Many of the dishes hold similarities with other styles of continental cooking, so would be recognisable to lovers of more commonly found Asian cuisines.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sri Lankan food, I will let you in on a couple of my favourite dishes.
Parippu, a flavoursome lentil curry that is practically interchangeable with Indian dhal. Onion, tomato, chilli and a whole host of spices are simmered with lentils and coconut milk until they are soft and almost soupy. You can have it with rice, roti or anything you like.
Speaking of roti, there are many variations of the tasty flatbread at the myriad of roadside stops – coconut, vegetables, chicken and beef. I even saw what I can only assume is a non-traditional chocolate roti on offer in some places! But if you stick with plain or coconut, with some delicious chilli paste, you really can’t go wrong.
The meal version of roti is kottu roti – a delicious stir-fry of sliced up roti, meats, vegetables, fresh spices and soy sauce. The ultimate street food!
Hoppers! Plain, egg or string – it doesn’t matter what type you choose, they are all amazing and delicious in their own way. Ingredients include rice flour and coconut water to make a batter and hoppers are made in the shape of very thin crepes. String hoppers are waffle shaped discs of thin noodles that are an amazing addition to any curry – breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Pol sambol was hands down my favourite culinary discovering on the whole damn island. Finally grated coconut, varying degrees of chilli, onion and occasionally fresh tomato, this is the best damn relish you will ever need to top any meal.