Sri Lanka – The Spice Route
My enticing aromatic journey to the spice-route , SRI LANKA ! Land of hot food and warm people!!
A two hour journey south from Colombo , at the near end of Bentota we chose Saman Villas as our retreat for experiencing the spice route that ‘India’s teardrop’ aka Sri Lanka had to offer. Sitting pretty above the rocks on the secluded golden sandy beach it was a quaint little property that instantly had this calming effect on us ; but I very well towards the end of my trip knew that the energy that enveloped us was that of the locals. Their vibe is what makes the island so welcoming and laid back and hence I tag Sri Lanka as ‘The Bahamas of Indian Sub-Continent‘.
My Star-Chef’s Cooking Class Experiencespice garden. Where the allure of the spices is sure to captivate you. Encompassing the sweetest waft from a slit on the Cinnamon bark , the pungent odor of cloves , the distinct native fragrance of curry leaves , the wholesome aroma of the cardamom pods ; propelled me further to discover the Sri Lankan cuisine which right from the introductory meal had accomplished in keeping us hankering for more.
Determined I returned and promptly requested the concierge to sign me up with the Chef.Next morning I was ushered to my cooking class which to my delight was an outdoor setting , with luminous sky and crashing waves as the background. Did I feel like I was in one of the fantasy Television cook show’s on an exotic location with an array of rainbow color ingredients displayed artfully? Oh! You bet.
My chef welcomed me to his land of Rice and Curry and commenced the class with teaching me how to prepare the classic’s. Warning me that the fiery curry was certainly not for a timid eater , he prepared it with an arsenal of spices. Grounding them in a conventional motar & pestle, further dry roasting them until we were able to get a whiff of the bouquet of spices and later adding chopped garden vegetables ,he finished preparing the quintessential foundation of any curry. Which further could be improvised into one’s desired preference of curry .My recurrent choice is the prawns curry which is bought together with fresh coconut cream and topped with crispy curry leaves and shallots.A constant antidote to the piquant curry is Red Rice which is the preferred rice in Sri Lanka that with it’s earthen notes amplifies the curry.
Next we hopped on to learning how to make the classic breakfast dish ‘The Hoppers‘ . They are essentially pancakes made from leavened rice and coconut milk batter , cooked in special woks called ‘Appachattis‘ giving them a bowl shape – dense and spongy at the base and crisping towards the diaphanous edge.By adding an egg that is cooked sunny side up in the hopper makes heart-warming ‘egg-hoppers‘. They sure are a fiddly task to pull off but my chef assured me that with measured and rested batter it was just a matter of practice before I would be sliding them out blindfolded. After a few attempts I finally managed a intact one out .Proudly I tried it with a selection of feisty and fresh chutneys sublimely balanced to inflame the senses and send the taste buds crazy with desire.
Bye- Bye Sri Lanka
Judging by my sheer delight of learning and cooking food , the chef proposed the Rock Salt Restraunt in Cinnamon Bey Hotel while bidding adieu. With a ‘Be-you’re-own-chef’s theme and a chance of cooking on red hot lava stone ; The idea immediately latched on . We sizzled through the night wearing our chef’s hat and apron experimenting with the miscellany of condiments along with freshest sea food tossing up our delectable last meal. Wrapping up the night with ambrosial Ceylon Tea we wondered why we never took this trip earlier?!
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