Friday 21 January 2011

Foodie highlights from Sri Lanka: Part 2

{grilled whole mackerel by the beach at Unawatuna}

6. Grilled Fish

This was a stunning dish.  Sitting in a wee Jamaican themed restaurant right on the beach at Unawatuna, and I mean right on the beach, the water literally under our feet as we sat on the deck.  We were treated to the very freshest fish, caught that morning by the fishermen sitting on poles over the next bay.  It was grilled in banana leaves and topped with a coconutty, garlicy sauce with melt-in-your-mouth shallots and chopped tomatoes.  Heavenly.  One of the best fish dishes I've tried in a long time.  Have been scouring the net for recipes but to no avail so if you know how to make this pretty pretty please share the recipe!!!

This place, called the Bong Chili Spice Cafe also did mean mojitos.  Yes, mojitos at lunch time...why not?!


Best Grilled Fish: Bong Chili Spice Cafe, Unawatuna - hands down.

7. Rice and Curry.

The ubiquitous meal in Sri Lanka.  Take your pick of chicken or fish, burn your mouth hot or make you cry hot served with an array of accompaniments like coconut sambal, dahl and eggplant chutney.  This delicious, sniff inducing, spice laced dish is found all over sri lanka, eaten in restaurants and homes alike.  Eat it with your fingers and try not to get it all over your face (this proved impossible for me).

We were invited over to our driver's home for a meal with his family.  His mother prepared an enormous spread of chicken curry, jackfruit curry and together with sambals and chutneys.  It was an incredible experience.  Memo to travellers, if a host offers you a glass of water on a tray before the meal it is customary to touch the tray to signify you approve of the food not take the glass like a rookie.  Guess which one we did.

Best Rice and Curry: Our driver Chindeka's house in Haputale cooked by his mum. 

8. Mangoes

I heart mangoes.  I ordered mango juice with every meal.  The mangoes here were so so sweet and fragrant.  So unlike the sour stringy little things we get in NZ.  And have to give a shout out to the papaya here too - so sweet and juicy.  You just gotta love fruit in the tropics - just can't beat it. 

Best Mangoes: Road side stall on the road to Tissa.  You get to try before you buy: the vendor cuts one open for you to taste before you choose which ones you want.  From memory they were Rs30 each (~US$0.30)!!

9.  Hoppers

Ahhh hoppers.  Egg hoppers, string hoppers, plan hoppers, sweet hoppers.  These crazy looking pancakey things are 100% Sri Lankan and 100% delicious.  Made of rice flour (or plain flour) with water and salt and served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You rip them up, scoop up some curry or sambal and chow down.  Or you can smear them with butter and jam, or jaggery and eat as a sweet breakfast treat.

Best hoppers: Breakfast hoppers at Lighthouse Lodge in Galle Fort.

10. Tea

And last but not least - Sri Lankan tea.  How could I not mention the tea on a trip to the country formally known as Ceylon.  Home of Dilmah, no less.

We travelled to the beautiful tea estates in the hill country, visited the tea factory set up by Sir Thomas Lipton and drank lots of strong fragrant Ceylon tea. 

Best tea: sweetened with condensed milk and piping hot at the top of Adam's Peak (Sri Pada).

And that my friends is my ode to Sri Lankan cuisine.

Sri Lanka, I love you. You were an amazingly welcoming, ethereally beautiful and utterly scrumptious country.

Cannot wait to go back!


  1. that grilled fish looks SO delicious! wish I could make a trip to sri lanka!

  2. This is so cool I just got back from Sri Lanka too! Really liked the egg hoppers, curd and treacle and also the jack fruit curry! I'm pretty jealous that you got to try home cooked curry! We were in remote hotels a lot so didn't get to try as much locally prepared food as I would have liked. Lots of rice and curry but tempered to suit 'tourist' tastes so pretty mild! One of my favourite foodie highlights was checking out a spice garden and seeing where a of my favourites like nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla come from. We also managed to wander around Kandy for a couple of hours and saw locals buying all kinds of food in the market there which was an amazing site. I will have to go back too!

  3. Donna: Oh boy that pic does not even do the dish justice! So fresh, so subtly was really sublime! I NEED to work out how to make it!

    April: Oh wow awesome that you've just been too...what were the chances?!?! We didn't get to spend much time in Kandy - just the temple there, wish I got to see the market! I've just found buffalo yoghurt at my local supermarket and am going to hunt out treacle. I'm going through curd and treacle withdrawal!!!



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