Lankan trails: Get a taste of the Sri Lankan cuisine in this food festival
Aromatic spices, exotic herbs and seafood dominate Sri Lankan cuisine and we got a taste of that recently at the Sri Lankan Food Festival organised by Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre. Chef Sahan Prabodha, who’s been flown from Sri Lanka especially for the festival, gives us an insight into what we could expect. “It’s an island country. So, you’ll see a lot of coconut, spices and tropical fruits along with seafood in the menu. We also use toddy in certain fish dishes for a unique taste,” he informs. He has been working at Weligama Bay Marriott Resort & Spa in Weligama, which opened seven months ago. We wait for the dishes to be served with expectations of strong tastes of cinnamon and pepper, among other aromatic flavours.
We begin the tasting session with Sri Lankan Vegetable Curry Broth – prepared with carrots, beans, garlic, spring onions and cauliflower. The taste of carrot, shredded coconut and a dash of fresh lime are predominant in the salad. We also enjoy the Tomato, Onion and Lettuce Salad. The Chilli Flavoured Mango brings some freshness and a summery feel to our plates. Juicy chunks of tender-cooked mangoes with cinnamon and chilli sprinkled on them not only overpowers the taste of the fruit, but also enhances the experience of every bite.
Breaking the pattern of vegetables and fruits, Crumb Fried Coconut Prawns arrive on our table. The seafood variety, which is a fresh catch from Visakhapatnam. The Sri Lankan Waligama Style Fish Curry along with red rice is served next. The chef tells us that the crushed pepper used in this pomfret dish is one of the main spices used in the cuisine of that country. No wonder, we also taste it in other entrées such as the Sri Lankan Chicken Curry.
The addition of coconut to most of the dishes taste much like those prepared in our states down south, especially in the coastal regions. Hence, we can draw a parallel between the food served in the coastal region of Kerala and that in Sri Lanka. We also try the delights with hopper—Appam topped with sunny-side-up eggs; says chef Sahan, “It’s a popular snack and breakfast item in our country and is even served for dinner.” We try it with Sambol as well – a preparation of onions, spices and sugar. We cap the spread with Sri Lankan Special Oil Cake called Kaum. No, it’s not a cake of frozen oil; it’s prepared with flour and jaggery, deep fried in oil as dumplings reminding us of the Tel Pitha from northeastern states.
The food festival begins today and is on till May 6 at Okra for dinner. Priced at Rs.1,750++.
Pics: Sathya Keerthi