This is way way overdue. Many apologies. I wonder if I should back-date it, just so there is not a big gaping hole in the blog record. 😛
And because I am so terribly behind, I will keep this short. Shorter than it should be, especially considering how many different impressions were gathered, sights seen, runs sweated through, flavors tasted, etc. over the course of the two weeks we were in Sri Lanka last year. However, I also don’t want to bore you.
Did you know that there are over 15 kinds of bananas in Sri Lanka? I didn’t. My favorite, and I didn’t make my way through all 15 varieties, though I would have loved to have, was the “sour banana.” I wish we could get sour bananas here in Germany. The ones that I eat now taste bland and mushy compared to the fresh, just off the tree sort that we got every day there. Sour bananas are not aptly named – they simply have a nice fruity note to them that “normal” bananas here don’t have. Perhaps a bit of an apple tang. The photo above was taken just minutes from Colombo airport after we arrived there. Our driver-guide pulled to the side of the road and bought us coconuts to drink, bananas to eat, and began to tell us the story of Sri Lanka. Over the course of the next two weeks we heard a lot of stories as we traveled around the country, moving from Colombo to Kandy to Hatton to Galle to Negombo and then back home. But since this is a food blog, I’ll focus there….
Ah – I suppose I could manage one of these every morning here in Munich, but it would be ungodly expensive, take too much time to prepare every day, and wouldn’t be special anymore after a few weeks of it. This was an instance of a fruit platter at our hotel near Hatton, but it looked similar everywhere we stayed – full of mango, passion fruit, papaya, pineapples…
The landscapes were breathtaking, almost everywhere you turned. It rained every day, although we were there during the beginning of the supposed dry season.
And so what you must know about food in Sri Lanka is that there is curry and rice…or rice and curry. Ok, it’s not that extreme. We enjoyed a lot of amazing food – egg hoppers becoming a fast favorite from day 2. What we didn’t know is that if you order a little curry for lunch…just thinking…one dish…you get something like this:
And that night for dinner, we had already pre-ordered the curry at breakfast. So we were met with this:
There were some common curries that we saw over and over again – chicken curries, red beet curries, coconut sambals, banana flower and casava root curries. But there were also some favorite unique ones – the cashew nut and pea curry was a favorite, as well as the okra curry.
At our second hotel, I ran across this cookbook in the public living room of the place and immediately started snapping pics of interesting looking recipes to try when I got home.
And at two of the hotels, I asked for the secret recipes of relishes I really enjoyed – a tamarind relish and an onion relish – both amazing and easy to make.
Upon arriving home, our friends demanded a Sri Lankan dinner as soon as possible. And I swear, after eating curry for two weeks, I was still willing to try out my hand.
One well worth passing on to try is the cashew nut and pea curry. Super simple, and comes together very quickly. Despite the fact that the recipes say you should soak the cashews, there is really really no need.
With a bit of rice or a coconut roti, this alone would be simple savory sweet dinner.
150g cashew nuts
75g frozen peas
1 cup thick coconut milk
1 cup cold water
1 teaspoon each: coriander powder, cumin powder, chili powder (or more to taste based on how spicy you like it), mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder
Curry leaves – nice big handful
2 inches cinnamon stick
3 small red onions (chopped)
Salt to taste
- Saute onions in 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil until they begin to brown (about 10 min)
- Mix cashews with all the curry ingredients and cold water then add to the onions and boil until soft (about 15 min)
- Add peas, mix well, cover and cook another 10 minutes
- Lastly, mix in the coconut milk and check the seasoning and simmer about 5 minutes