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Foods you should try in Sri Lanka – from sour fish curry to coconut relish

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The Teardrop of India or Pearl of the Indian Ocean are among many nicknames for Sri Lanka. But a more accurate description of the gorgeous nation might be the Island of Rice and Curry.Making liberal use of local fruit, such as coconut and jackfruit, seafood and an arsenal of spices, Sri Lankan cooking delivers an abundance of incredible dishes.

Here are some you shouldn’t miss.

Fish ambul thiyal (sour fish curry)

As you’d expect from an island in the Indian Ocean, seafood plays an important role in Sri Lankan cuisine. Fish ambul thiyal (sour fish curry) is one of the most beloved varieties of the many different fish curries available.

The fish — usually something large and firm, such as tuna — is cut into cubes, then sauteed in a blend of spices including black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, pandan leaves and curry leaves. Perhaps the most important ingredient is dried goraka, a small fruit responsible for giving the fish a sour flavor.

Ambul thiyal

is a dry curry dish, meaning all the ingredients are simmered with a small amount of water and cooked until the liquid reduces. This allows the spice mixture to coat each cube of fish.

Originating in southern Sri Lanka, it’s available throughout the country at restaurants that serve curry, and is best eaten with rice.

Kottu (also, kottu roti)

Over the traffic and noise at a Sri Lankan market, you’ll likely hear the clanking of metal on metal and know kottu isn’t far away. Kottu is Sri Lanka’s hamburger — everybody’s favorite go-to fast food when craving something tasty and greasy.It resembles fried rice, except instead of rice, it’s made with a type of roti known as godamba roti (a flat, crispy bread).

The roti is normally fried at the beginning of the day, piled into stacks and served as it’s ordered. When you place an order, the kottu chef will fry and chop the roti with a selection of ingredients you choose. The result is a tasty mixture of salty pieces of fried dough, lightly spiced and extremely comforting.

Kottu is served with spicy curry sauce, which you can either use as a dip or pour over your entire plate.

Some of the most skilled kottu chefs compose their own unique songs, singing while they rhythmically clank their spatula and knives against the metal frying surface, slicing the roti with each clank.

Kukul mas curry (chicken curry)

Simple to make, chicken curry is a common household dish in Sri Lanka. There are many variations depending on region and taste preferences.

Spices like fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon sticks are tempered in hot oil before being combined with chicken and spices like chili powder, curry powder, turmeric, pandan leaves, lemongrass and curry leaves.

Coconut milk contributes to the rich base of the curry gravy. Depending on the recipe, a puree of tomato is often included.The chicken is stewed for an hour or so until the essence of the spices is infused into the chicken. Most satisfying when served with hot rice and roti.

Parippu (dhal curry)

Parippu, or dhal curry, is the most common curry in all of Sri Lankan cuisine, a staple in any restaurant or household. Masoor dhal (split red lentils) are first rinsed and boiled until soft.In a separate pan, a number of fresh ingredients, such as onions, tomatoes and fresh green chilies, are sauteed and mixed with tempered spices like cumin seeds, turmeric, fenugreek, mustard seeds and curry leaves.

All the ingredients are combined and usually thickened with a splash of fresh coconut milk to give the dhal a rich flavor and creamy texture.It goes with everything, but is perfect as a dipping gravy for a fresh roti or paratha.

Ways to experience the best of Sri Lanka

Lamprais

Sri Lanka has been influenced by a diversity of cultures and one of the most evident is the Dutch Burgher community.Lamprais, a word that combines the two Dutch words for “lump” and “rice,” is a combination of meat, rice and sambol chili sauce, wrapped into a banana leaf packet and steamed. The rice is cooked with meat stock — usually a combination of different meats like beef, pork or lamb — that’s infused with cardamom, clove and cinnamon.

A scoop of rice is placed in the centre of a banana leaf, along with the mixed meat curry, two frikkadels (Dutch-style beef balls), blachan (a shrimp paste) and a starch or vegetable, usually either ash plantain or brinjals.

The package is folded into a parcel and steamed. Since lamprais is a Burgher contribution to Sri Lankan cuisine, the meat is usually prepared with sweet spices like clove and cinnamon, recreating the flavor favored by the Dutch Burgher community.Original recipes called for beef, pork and lamb, but chicken and eggs are often included in a modern lamprais packet.

Hoppers (appa or appam)

Also, string hoppers (indi appa or idiyappam) Hoppers are the Sri Lankan answer to the pancake. The batter is made from a slightly fermented concoction of rice flour, coconut milk, sometimes coconut water and a hint of sugar.

A ladle of batter is fried in a small wok and swirled around to even it out. Hoppers can be sweet or savory, but one of the local favorites is egg hoppers. An egg is cracked into the bowl-shaped pancake, creating the Sri Lankan version of an “egg in the hole.”

Egg hoppers are garnished with lunu miris, a sambol of onions, chilies, lemon juice and salt.Unlike the runny batter used for hoppers, string hoppers are made from a much thicker dough. The dough is squeezed through a string hopper maker, like a pasta press, to create thin strands of noodles, which are steamed.

String hoppers are normally eaten for breakfast or dinner with curries.

Polos (green jackfruit curry)

Jackfruit is consumed in a number of different stages of ripeness, from very ripe and sweet to green and starchy. Polos is a Sri Lankan curry prepared with young green jackfruit.The fruit is sliced into bite-sized chunks and boiled until soft.

It’s then cooked with onions, garlic, ginger and spices like mustard seeds, turmeric, chili powder, roasted curry powder, pandan leaves and curry leaf sprigs. The final step is to add coconut milk and simmer to reduce most of the liquid, leaving all the beautiful flavors within the cubes of jackfruit.

Jackfruit has a starchy texture, somewhat similar to cassava or potato. Polos is a standard dish available at most Sri Lankan curry restaurants.

Sophisticated Sri Lanka hotels Wambatu moju (eggplant/brinjals pickle)

Served mostly with rice and curries, wambatu moju is an extremely flavorful candied eggplant (brinjals) pickle.The eggplant — usually the purple-skinned, long and slender variety — is cut into bite-sized wedges and deep fried, giving the eggplant a crispy texture with a soft and silky interior.It’s then caramelized with a spoon of sugar, vinegar, red onions, green chilies, mustard seeds, chili powder and a hint of turmeric powder until the color turns almost black.Take a bite and the soft and juicy texture of the eggplant should melt in your mouth — the slightly sweet, sour and salty contrast is absolutely sensational.

Gotu kola sambol (pennywort salad)

One of the most readily available green vegetable dishes in Sri Lanka is gotu kola sambol.Gotu kola (known in English as Asiatic pennywort) is a medicinal herb in Asia. It’s shredded into slivers, then combined with shallots, tomatoes, fresh grated coconut and chili and seasoned with a dressing of salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Sambol is a term used in Sri Lanka for ingredients that are combined and eaten raw, sometimes more of a chili sauce and sometimes more of a salad, like gotu kola sambol.Gotu kola has a powerful, herbaceous flavour similar to kale, making it an extremely fresh and crisp dish. It’s typically a side dish served with curry and rice.

Kiribath with lunu miris

Kiribath is a special type of rice, cooked with thick coconut milk and often served during special or auspicious occasions, such as Sinhalese New Year.There are a few versions of kiribath, but the basic procedure is to start by boiling a pot of rice.Before the rice finishes cooking, add coconut milk and a pinch of salt. The coconut milk makes the rice creamy and rich and helps it form a sticky consistency. Once the rice is finished cooking, it’s cut into wedges and served like slices of cake.

Kiribath can be eaten along with a number of different Sri Lankan dishes, often either sweetened with jaggery or consumed salty with chili sauce or curry. One of the most common ways to garnish kiribath is with lunu miris, a sambol chili sauce made from red chilies, onions, lemon juice, salt and sometimes dry Maldive fish, all ground into a paste using a stone mortar and pestle.

Pol Sambol (coconut relish)

In a country in which the coconut is of supreme importance, there’s one Sri Lankan side dish that pays fitting tribute.Pol sambol, which might also be called fresh coconut relish, is a simple blend of finely grated coconut, red onions, dried whole chilies or chili powder, lime juice, salt and Maldive fish (if available). The ingredients are diced or ground, then combined in a bowl.In Sri Lanka, pol sambol is used as a garnish or side dish for everything and anything.

It goes well with rice and curry, pol roti (coconut roti), a hot paratha, string hoppers or even just scooped up with slices of bread. If you love coconut, there’s no better garnish in the world.

Sri Lanka’s top tea experiences: Sips of history

Wood apple

It wouldn’t be a Sri Lankan food discussion without wood apple.The wood apple is a Southeast Asian fruit about the size of a de-husked coconut. It also has just as hard of a shell, and a pungent, almost blue cheese aroma.

Walking through a market in Sri Lanka your nose will detect it long before your eyes do. Inside the shell is a dark brown paste that resembles something between tamarind pulp and fermented raisins.Wood apple can be eaten directly out of the shell, but one of the most popular ways to eat (or drink) it throughout Sri Lanka is in a thick smoothie, known as wood apple juice.- CNN

The fruit is blended with jaggery (or sugar) and water to smooth it out. It has a unique sour and sweet flavor. Mention that you love wood apple to any Sri Lankan you meet, and they probably won’t be able to hold back a knowing smile. – (CNN)



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Pop crackle, gulp and gasp

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Pani Puri: India’s favourite street food now available in Sri Lanka

Pani puri occupies a special place in Indian hearts and stomachs, so it’s no wonder that the treat has been one of the country’s most poplar street snacks

On any normal evening in India, in the bustling markets and noisy main streets of big cities and small towns alike, there is a familiar sight: the corner pani puri wala (seller), surrounded by a gaggle of eager customers.

His hands seem to fly as they dip the puris (fried discs of dough) into various bowls of fillings and chutneys and passes them out to people waiting impatiently. The vendor’s customer base stretches across age groups and social strata, with people stepping out of plush cars or families walking over from their homes. For the love of pani puri, and indeed of all chaat (fried snacks), unites Indians in a way few other things do.

Chaat is a catchall word – from chaatna, meaning “to lick” – that covers a wide range of street snacks, where different ingredients are usually tossed together to create a sucker punch of tastes and textures. India loves these small, satisfying snacks because they fill the perfect hunger moment, that is to say early evening, when lunch is a distant memory and dinner has yet to be cooked. And of all chaat, pani puri occupies a special place in Indian hearts and stomachs.

At first glance, pani puri seems like nothing special. The word itself is a combination of pani (water, which in this case, refers to the diluted chutneys) and puri (the fried discs of dough). The crisp, thin puri, which is about the size of a circle made by your forefinger touching your thumb, puffs up upon frying to create a hollow core.

However, eating a pani puri requires much attention and no small amount of skill: poke a hole on the surface of the puri with your forefinger, load it up with your chosen filling – such as mashed potato, healthy sprouts, finely chopped onions or mushy peas – and then dunk the whole thing into sweet-and-sour tamarind and spicy green chutney waters (both often kept iced) in quick succession. Finally, pop the whole package into your mouth and wait for the explosion of flavours, as the puri – ever so slightly soggy by then – crumbles inside your mouth with the sauces flowing out, all while filling the soul and clearing the sinuses at the same time.

Indeed, to eat pani puri is to be prepared for liquid dribbling down the sides of your mouth and tears streaming out of your eyes – an experience that is far more pleasurable than it might sound.

For those few moments, everything feels alright

It is no wonder that the pani puri is one of the street snacks that many indians love. Many home cooks have taken to recreating some of the magic at home, partly to satisfy chaat pangs and partly to feel the freedom of being able to walk the streets again

As education advisor Meeta Sengupta from Delhi exclaimed over email, “Pani puri is pure fun! Pop, crackle, gulp and gasp.”

Mumbai journalist Karishma Upadhya explained, “I think my craving came from a place of wanting something that made us feel happy and ‘normal’. When everything around is in such flux, it’s reassuring when you taste something that your mouth and mind instinctively know. When you put that pani puri in your mouth, you know you’ll get the perfect mix of cold, spicy, tart, sweet and crunchy. And, for those few moments, everything feels alright.”

While some brave cooks such as food blogger Amrita Kaur are making puri from scratch by kneading the dough to a perfect tight consistency, rolling out dozens of small discs, frying them in batches and preparing the fillings – most have used store-bought puris, purchasing them during careful grocery runs or utilising their pantry stocks.

There are many stories about the origins of pani puri. Culinary anthropologist Dr Kurush Dalal says that chaat (likely a predecessor of the modern pani puri) was first created in what is now the northern Indian region of Uttar Pradesh around the time of Emperor Shah Jahan’s rule in the late 17th Century. According to Dalal, royal doctors advised the general population to consume more fried and spicy snacks (and yoghurt) to balance the alkaline quality of the water from the Yamuna River, on the banks of which his new capital, Old Delhi, was built. The puri, which was to serve as “bite-sized containers of the chaat masala” (with fillings such as potato mash), spread to the rest of the country through migrant workers who moved to large cities like Mumbai and Delhi in the last century.

Like the most sublime chaats, pani puri is best enjoyed on the streets. And while upscale restaurants have started serving it in the last few years – with modern twists such as replacing the chutneys with spiced vodka shots and, shudder, guacamole fillings – their offerings rarely hit the spot. This is partly because street vendors know the palate of their customers and tailor each pani puri order accordingly – “Only the sweet-and-sour tamarind chutney”, “No sprouts please”, “Pile on the spice” – and each claims to have their own secret mixes of fillings and flavourings.

Food writer Anubhuti Krishna, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, loves pani puri but has not attempted to make it at home because, as she says, “I know I cannot replicate my favourite flavours at home, and they are sacrosanct for us UPwalas [people from Uttar Pradesh].”

Another reason could be that pani puri is best (or perhaps only) eaten by hand; there is no room for forks or finesse here. Kalyan Karmakar, culinary consultant and author of The Travelling Belly, a book on Indian street foods, describes eating pani puri as a “foodie adventure sport”, adding that “restaurants cannot recreate the thrill of standing on the pavement, unperturbed by people jostling past. Your eyes are focused on the pani puri wala. You have to be ready to pop it in [your mouth] when your turn comes.”

And even though pani puri is a perennial favourite across the country, it is by no means standardised or even similar everywhere. In fact, the name itself differs by place: pani puri is a Mumbai term, whereas in Delhi it is known as golgappa. In Kolkata, it goes by the name of puchka, and in Uttar Pradesh, it’s pani ke patashe (or batashe). The difference comes from the puri base ingredient – semolina, whole wheat or refined flour – as well as the fillings. And like with politics and cricket leagues, Indians like to argue about which kind is the best, and in each town, which pani puri wala makes it the most chatpata (lip-smacking).

Sengupta, who uses a ready-to-fry puri (a recent innovation found in stores), told me about her own Bengali-Punjabi household where the pani is “gingery sweet, with loads of hing (asafoetida) and pudina (mint)” and with “layered textures”. And Krishna, while noting that such food fights are silly, also adds that the Lucknow variety is her preferred version “because of how the softness and blandness of the matar (mashed peas) contrasts with the spicy water and the crisp and khasta (flaky) batasha.”

“It is [an] explosion in the mouth, yet it is soul food,” Sengupta said wistfully, perhaps summing up what millions of us Indians think of pani puri. – BBC

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Sri Lanka”s most sophisticated wellness facieity for medical and holistic healig

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Rejuvenation of mind, body, and soul

Christell Luxury Wellness -Sri Lanka’s most-trusted aesthetics centre- celebrated over the weekend the grand opening of its pioneering new venture: the Christell Wellness Villa.

Last Saturday the 28th of January, the luxury health and wellness hub for preventative health solutions was unveiled at a private event at the centre’ state of the art central location at Lauries Lane, Colombo, introducing invitees to the wealth of cutting-edge medically approved treatments in store.

Christell Wellness Villa’s portfolio of non-invasive immersive treatments features skin rejuvenation, anti-aging, nutrition, fitness and ayurvedic programmes therapies which seamlessly fuse ancient holistic disciplines and integrative medical therapies with the keystones of modern and traditional Western medicine.

Guided by the belief that good health is the ultimate luxury, Christell Wellness Villa is also the first in Sri Lanka to offer a Sensory Deprivation Pod (floatation therapy) experience, reputed to provide four hours of deep restful sleep with just one hour of floatation. Providing an unmatchable deep state of relaxation, in addition to helping improve sleep patterns, this effortless therapy also contributes towards pain relief, improving daily performance and concentration, alleviating symptoms of depression, while also strengthening the immune system.

Diagnostic assessments and consultations at the Christell Wellness Villa allows the centre’s specialists to curate a bespoke portfolio of medical treatments and holistic therapies designed exclusively for each client’s unique health profile; providing customised result-driven pathways for optimum wellness, backed by both state-of the-art technology and also the very best of what nature has to offer.

At the launch event, Dr. Shanika Arsecularatne Medical Director of Christell Luxury Wellness, spoke of the vision behind the Christell Wellness Villa, stressing also on the importance of not taking one’s health and wellness for granted. “I assure you, Christell Wellness Villa is not ‘just another spa.’ We have on board doctors, scientists, specialists, and trained therapists who are able to curate time-tested, medical treatments and holistic therapies specific to each individual need -man or woman – that promote greater well-being, health, fitness, and longevity.”

A safe haven in the middle of the city to heal, recharge, detoxify and recalibrate your bodies in a healthy sustainable way; enabling you to live a longer life, better lived. is our focus said Dr Shanika

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Blossoms of Hope 2023

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Over the last fifteen years, the Ikebana International Srilanka Chapter, has brought about greater awareness and appreciation of Ikebana art of flower arrangement to a wider audience, through their numerous exhibitions.

The exhibition “Blossoms of Hope 2023” will be held at Cinnamon Grand hotel, Ivy room on the 19th and 20th of February. The chief guest will be the patron of Ikebana International Sri Lanka Chapter, the Ambassador for Japan to Sri Lanka Mizukoshi Hideaki.

There will be more than fifty exhibits by the members who have tirelessly pursued their interests and love for ikebana. The arrangements are categorized into different themes this time – straight lines and curves, repetitive forms, intertwining plant material, colours in contrast, using unconventional materials, complimenting an artwork, miniature arrangements and free style.

Visitors could also witness demonstrations by teachers of Sogetsu School on both days at 4 p.m. free of charge.

Each year, the society supported children with cancer through the medium of flowers. This year too, part proceeds from the show will be channelled to the paediatric ward of Apeksha Cancer hospital.

Date: – 19th Feb; 11 a.m. to 7pm

20th Feb; 10 a.m. to 6 pm

Venue: – Cinnamon Grand – Ivy Room

Demonstrations: – 4 pm (both days)

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