Travellanka October 2017

110 Wine and Dine M ost hotels here offer a wide variety of excellent oriental and western cuisine and special theme fare. Therearerestaurantsspecialising inChinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, Swiss and German food or fusion food. Some specialise in Sri Lankan cooking. Rice and Curry If you’re looking for a taste of Sri Lanka, you should try rice and curry. Boiled rice and spicy curries are the staple diet of most Sri Lankans. A warning to the uninitiated – watch out for those curries – “hot” is definitely the word for them, and they can be tough on the first timer’s palate. Just about anything can be curried. It’s a dish of meat, fish or vegetables, cooked in coconut milk and seasoned with chillies, pepper, onions, variousspices,cinnamon,cardamon,cloves, nutmeg, tumeric... Rice (either boiled plain white or spicy and coloured with tumeric) is usually served with up to six or seven curries. It may be accompaniedbyvariouspickles,chutney,and sambol – a spicy mixture of ground coconut and red chillies. Well known is the fact that Mediterranean food constitute the most nutritious meal. Take it as a fact that a typical Sri Lankan meal of rice and curry washed down with water often hot, is an excellent competitor or a close second. Breakfast Fare The local breakfast and dinner favourites are hoppers and string-hoppers. Hoppers are light and crisp and bowl-shaped, made by swirling a mixture of rice flour and coconut milk in a wok-shaped pan. The sides are wafer-crisp and the centre is soft, and it’s delicious when eaten hot with an egg baked in the centre. String hoppers are delicate circles made of squiggles of rice flour paste squeezed through a sieve, steamed till they’re light and soft. ‘Lamprais’ Try the Lamprais – no, they’re not the stuffed eels the Greeks drool over, but a Dutch variation of the rice and curry theme. Rice boiled in stock and a selection of “dry” curries are wrapped in a banana leaf and baked, to enhance the flavour. Desserts If you still have room for dessert after all that, go for a delicious dessert of curd topped with treacle. Or try Watalappam – a rich pudding made with Jaggery, fudge from the Kitul palm treacle. If you’rebattlingthebulge,youcanstillchoosefromamouth-watering range of fresh fruits that will really give you a feel of the tropics. Fruits Try perennials like papaya, pineapple, several varieties of mango, passion fruit, and over a dozen varieties of bananas. Or go for the unusual – pearly white Mangosteen in its purple husk, Rambutan, Sapodilla, Soursap, Guava, Beli, Varaka and Durian. Tambili (king coconut) While you’re here, don’t just ask for fruit juice. Tambili (king coconut juice) drunk straight from the golden fruit, the delicate Kurumba, the crushed pink ice of watermelon juice, passion fruit juice, orange, pineapple, papaya – take your pick. Ceylon Tea Refresh yourself with the best in the world – Ceylon Tea. Sample the fine blends and venture out to the various flavours – orange, mint, lemon, lime, strawberry.... Toddy & Arrack The two traditional Sri Lankan drinks that cheer are Arrack and Toddy. Toddy is the fermenting sap of the coconut flower. Arrack is the distilled essence of toddy. VSOA (Very Special Old Arrack), 7 year Arrack, and double distilled Arrack are served in most hotels, but the best toddy is found at wayside taverns. The local beers – lager, pilsner, three coins & stout, are also very popular and freely available. Some Supermarkets sell liquor and beer. If you dip your finger into a local cooking pot you might be surprised by some strange flavours. Located right in the middle of the big shipping lanes of the ancient world, this spice-rich island has attracted many peoples to its beautiful shores. Sri Lankan culinary art reflects the traditions of these various cultures. Wine and Dine