Rice and Curry

Travel Bulletin - - FOOD & WINE TRAVEL -

Hop­pers, Kiri­bath and Wata­lap­pan aren’t words com­monly heard in Aus­tralia, be­cause many of us are yet to un­cover the culi­nary de­lights of Sri Lanka. That looks set to change though, with an in­creas­ing num­ber of food-lovers be­com­ing privy to the coun­try’s rich food cul­ture. Jour­neys cen­tred around the is­land’s vi­brant epi­curean ex­pe­ri­ences are now be­ing of­fered by many tour­ing com­pa­nies such as Aber­crom­bie & Kent, World Ex­pe­di­tions and In­trepid. Nathalie Craig re­veals some of the food ex­pe­ri­ences not to miss when trav­el­ling in Sri Lanka.

A sta­ple item you will see on menus across the coun­try is ‘rice and curry’. A de­scrip­tion which greatly un­der­plays what you’re about to be served. Get ready for a heaped plate of rice with up to 15 ac­com­pa­ni­ments. Th­ese usu­ally in­clude an as­sort­ment of in­tensely flavoured meat, fish and veg­etable cur­ries along with dahl, pick­les, sam­bols and pap­pad­ums. Sri Lankan cur­ries are largely co­conut based, brought to life with fresh curry leaves, co­rian­der, cumin, fen­nel seeds, fenu­greek, car­damom and gen­er­ous amounts of fiery chilli. Tra­di­tion­ally th­ese dishes are eaten by hand, with lo­cals tak­ing a ball of rice with their fin­ger­tips then gen­tly mix­ing it with the spiced ac­com­pa­ni­ments. The tech­nique is ef­fi­cient, clean and looks de­cep­tively easy. When trav­el­ling through Sri Lanka I tried it for my­self in a lo­cal curry house, and my at­tempt came off rather un­grace­fully. While I strove to eat by hand through­out my jour­ney, the lo­cals are al­ways more than happy to give for­eign­ers cut­lery. In a buzzing Colombo cafe while watch­ing the life of is­land’s cap­i­tal go by.

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