Sri Lankan food is absolutely amazing. It is like a super hybrid of Thai, and Indian food. The food is less creamy than Indian food and less spicy than Thai. It is very colourful and flavourful. Spices I would never dream of putting together mix in a perfect melody. Generally several dishes are served at a meal including various curries, a coconut/greens mixture and rice, string hoppers (rice noodles) or roti.
The food is best enjoyed when eaten with your hands (or at least your right hand – the left hand is traditionally reserved for other not so pleasant business). This way you can properly mix small amounts of dish together on your plate. I must say I love eating with my hands as it engages all the senses in the meal.
Once the MacBook arrives, I will be sure to add lots of photos to tempt your taste buds.
So as I embarked on my first geniune attempt at Sri Lankan cooking I had high hopes, but unfortunately things did not go as planned. Recipes in the North American sense don’t really exist here. People do not measure their ingredients so when you ask how much to put in their response is “too taste”. That is fine when it comes to adding things like salt, but when it comes to how much water to add to the dahl, it becomes a little more tricky.
I thought I’d start with something fairly simple : rice and a dahl curry. Then for a challenge I would attempt roti. Surprisingly, the roti was the thing that turned out the best. The rice would have also been fine if I would have prepped it properly. I knew to wash it thoroughly first, but I missed one key step – destoning.
I guess I needed to sift through it and look for any small stones and remove them. As a result when I sat down to eat, I nearly broke my teeth over the gritty stones that I was eating in my rice. The dahl also was a bit of a disaster. I made far too much and didn’t have enough coconut milk or various other spices for it. I also didn’t cook it long enough so the crunchy dahl with the stony rice made a perfectly horrible combination.
Remarkably, I’m not completely discouraged as I’ve found a book geared towards westerners entitled “Sri Lankan Cookery” in my apartment. I’ve made a menu and invited some friends over for supper on Friday night. I don’t know if they realize what they are in for. However, I will have alcohol and ice cream so it can’t be too much of a disaster!
Tonight, I start my first Sinhala lesson so I plan to learn how to ask at the market for all the ingredients I will need during tomorrows’ grocery shopping.
So I’m off on this epic adventure of making a meal in a land of foreign languages, and foregin ingredients. (Did you know that eggplant is also know as aubergine in UK English? All this time I had thought I’d learned a Sinhalese word, but I guess not.) Wish me luck – I’m going to need it!