What could be more comforting than dipping into a bowl of piping hot and spicy curry and rice on a clammy, gloomy day? Well, if this is your idea of comfort food - or anytime food - then the Sri Lankan food festival at Pinxx at the Royal Orchid Central could just be what your tastes buds are clamouring for.
Sri Lankan cuisine has its roots in a strong local culture as well as the colonial influences of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British who came for Sri Lanka’s famed spices and tea. South Indian and Malay traders have also left their impact on the food of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan cuisine is literally a home away from home for Indians. "Sri Lankan food is very similar to Indian tastes," says Akhilesh Pathank, Executive Chef at The Royal Orchid. Their main staple is rice, the island has been renowned for its spices and the combination of hot rice and a spicy curry - meat/fish/vegetarian/masoor dal - is a must-have in their cuisine. Sounds familiar, right?
Some other popular dishes of the cuisine, as Pathak explains, include Egg Kothu Parotta, a spicy mixture of egg, dal, some vegetables, spices and paratha, Idiyappam or String Hoppers, that are made with rice flour and served with curr. - a steamed rice dish using coarsely ground rice, coconut and spices and of course Lamprais - rice boiled with meatballs, mixed meat curry, a sambol, a deep fried boiled egg, rice boiled in stock, which is wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed in the oven.
Stomach rumbling? Well, here is what's on offer at the Sri Lankan food festival that is bound to make your stomach rumble just that little bit more. Pathak says that while a few dishes will be available in the buffet and live counters, the live seafood bazaar - with pomfret, prawns, crab, silver fish, lobster, kane and squid - will be an a la carte menu.
For appetisers, you have the quintessential Sri Lankan dish - Okra (ladies finger) sambol. A sambol is a hot and spicy sauce that has a paste-like consistency and is normally made with a variety of chilli peppers - so super spicy! Often shrimp paste, fish sauce, garlic ginger, palm sugar, lime juice and vinegars are added for depth of flavour. Ladies finger is one of those vegetables that perfectly complements the spicy sambol. This stir-fried dish is spicy and tangy and will be the perfect start to your Sri Lankan culinary sojourn. Other starters include patties, cutlets and devilled prawns and chicken.
Among the mains, the Ambul Thial is a hot, sour and peppery fish dish using tuna fish This dish originally was originally used as a way to preserve fish in the southern parts of the country. And can curries be far behind? Or a spicy Pepper Crab and Chilli prawns? Vegetarians don't fear, you have some curries coming your way as well with the Beans Milk Curry and a Raw Banana Curry. Mop all this up with Idiappams and Hoppers from the live counter, with seven - yes seven - types of sambols.
And if your tastebuds are on fire, calm them down at the dessert counter with the most typical of Sri Lanka desserts, the Watalappan, a custard pudding with coconut, condensed milk, jaggery, nuts and spices.
Soayubowan,and welcome to the world of Sri Lankan food.