A Feast of Serendipity - Episode 2, by http://talallahouse.com
Episode 1, here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sETPIr1Y5eg
Centuries ago, trade ships from every corner of the world started to set their sails for the small island nation of Sri Lanka.
The Dutch, the English, the Portuguese and more -- all of them crossed the Indian Ocean in search for the same simple pleasure: a great tasting meal.
A few hundred years later, and Sri Lanka still remains a vital point in the global food trade, boasting the richest diversity of native crops and spices throughout all of southern Asia.
In A Feast of Serendipity Episode 2, we continue to discover, one meal at a time, just what it is that makes Sri Lankan cuisine so unique and unforgettable.
We visit to the Horathapola Estate, a fine villa north of Colombo, with several hectares of lush Sri Lankan farmland. The villa chef takes us on a tour of the grounds, and everything we prepare for the night’s dinner is picked only hours before, straight from the earth. On the menu tonight, a rich and hearty Black Pork Curry and Jackfruit Curry
Then we make our way to the paddy fields along the island’s southern coast, where we learn firsthand the art of shaving a coconut.The coconut is many things to Sri Lanka. You’ll find coconut oil in virtually every kitchen, and the shavings are used for milk and relishes too. You can strip the fiber off their husks to make rope, and even ferment an alcohol from its flowers. All you need is time and that low, tropical sun. We do Mackerel Fritter. Onion, curry leaves, ginger and garlic hit the pan and after a touch of chilli flakes you add potatoes and the mackerel. Mix evenly and roll it up. Dip each one in egg batter, flour and breading and send them into the frier. When they’re ready, don’t wait too long, these perfect bites are best served hot.
We then move on to Colombo to The Ministry Of Crab where Chef Darshan, a luminary of Sri Lankan cuisine, with two restaurants in Asia’s Top 50, is preparring the restaurant’s namesake dish, Black Pepper Crab. Sri Lanka is one of the premiere exporters of crab in the region and Darshan and his team have crafted a black pepper sauce that is potent while still being nuanced enough to remain the meal’s central ingredient. Very little frills in this recipe, but the product is truly an explosion of taste.
In a village on the west coast we encounter another mainstay in the Sri Lankan cookbook, the Kiri Baath. A rice pudding made in homes all across the island. You will get Kiribath for breakfast and it is an essential dish for any auspicious moment. It is is great for balancing out the strong flavors you’ll find on most Sri Lankan tables.
We visit the Foundation Of Goodness, a NGO helping develop local communities, to learn how to make String Hoppers. String hoppers provide a tasty way to scoop up whatever else is on your plate. And the thin, ribbony texture is a special treat you’ll only find on the island.
Our last meal of the journey is Egg Hoppers. Like the string hoppers, egg hoppers are perfect for wrapping around your assortment of curries and sambols. As the name implies, you can’t make one without a cracking a few eggs. For breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the egg hopper is a staple of Sri Lankan cooking.
About Sri Lankan food
Sri Lankan curries and dishes date back thousands of years with a greater diversity than any other food in the Asian region. This is due to the influence of recipes and spices brought to the island by Indians, Arabs, Malays, Portuguese, Dutch and English.
It was the spices that drove Western merchants across the oceans and made Sri Lanka the famous center for the spice trade Even today Sri Lanka is a major exporter of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper and turmeric. It’s these spices, roasted or freshly ground, combined with always fresh crops, fruit, vegetables and greens that gives Sri Lankan food it’s character. Your mouth will beg to remember each bite: the slightly toasted note from the curry leaves, the vanilla-like pandan, and the ultra creamy coconut milk and the cinnamon, because after all, you are at its home.
Hundreds of years ago, before the spice trade, the Persians had another name for Sri Lanka, they called it “Sarandib.” And from this word there came one we still use today, “serendipity.”
Take a bite of fine Ceylon cooking, and discover a journey full of serendipitous surprises. With a culinary history rich in cross-cultural blending and a bounty of native crops and spices, Sri Lankan cuisine stands tall as marvelous contribution to the world’s table. Take a seat, take a bite, and find out for yourself.