For the love of Lanka
Even though it draws parallels with south Indian food, especially Kerala cuisine, Sri Lankan dishes are characterised by unique flavours and distinct textures, which makes it stand out on its own. FoodWalk- Flavours of Lanka opened early August in Nolambur and is slowly picking up.
To bring authentic Sri Lankan flavour to Chennai, 28-year old Shivaanth Vasanthakumar, MD of FoodWalk recruited two young chefs from Kandy who despite their age, who despite their age, have mastered the secrets of authentic flavours that define the soul of Sri Lankan cooking. Gajanugan, 21 and Krishnapradeepan, 23 have been cooking and curating the menu for the last two months. "It's not just the spices, but the way of preparation that's different," says Shivaanth. "Lankan food has a lot of leeks and spinach, both extremely difficult to find in Koyambedu market. However, our sambol and chilli paste is made in-house." We started our meal with Lankan Devil, which is basically the Sri Lankan version of Indian Chinese food and a sweet and sour street food essential.
Next comes the Maalu Miris, which is molaga bhaji stuffed with dried fish powder and egg. This has got some crunch and spice for balance. Appams were next! Light and fluffy, you can easily polish off three to four in one sitting. If you want to try a variation, try the sweet appam which is sweet, milky and fragile in the centre. Scoop up some sambol with it if you want to experience a new taste altogether.
Next they serve us some freshly made puttu along with spicy fish curry. The curry is made with goraka, a less popular cousin of the famous mangosteen. The sour flavour gives a kick to the curry and makes for a great addition to the puttu. You may find similarities to Kerala cuisine but the flavour of the fish curry is so distinct, it holds up the dish on its own. Since Sri Lanka is all about their coasts and beaches, we get some delicious seafood kotthu, replete with prawns, calamari, and local fish. If you love seafood, this is a must-try. When it comes to dessert, Sri Lanka is known for one and one thing only and that is their famous Vattalappam. Made out of coconut, egg and kithul jaggery (liquid jaggery), the dessert is a mix of both pudding and halwa. During Ramzan time, the Muslim Sri Lankans break their fast with this popular dessert. They also have their version of full meals called Gamae Kema (which means village meals) and Mann salty meals that will soon be available to the customers.