I was recently lucky enough to visit Sri Lanka – a fantastic island of culture, scenery and wildlife and, in between enjoying all of the above, the local cuisine proved a real treat. Although famous for its tea and spices it was clear that Sri Lankan food has much more to offer besides.
Our first chance to sample the local food was early at breakfast on day one. Presented with a traditional Sri Lankan spread, we were offered dhal, roti (a type of coconut flat bread similar to naan), string hoppers (little nests of noodles) and sambol (a spicy mix of grated coconut, chilli and onion) and tucked in – although admittedly rather tentatively at first, not quite used to the fiery kick of sambol so early in the morning.
Whilst curry for breakfast definitely took some getting used to, in the evenings we enjoyed some great dishes. Fish and seafood were prominent on menus and the local seer fish with prawns, crab and octopus became a firm favourite of mine. We also tried Jackfruit curry – widely grown in Sri Lanka, the fruit has a meaty texture making it a great vegetarian option.
Sri Lanka was heavily hit by the tsunami in 2004, and 12 years on, the coastline is gradually coming back to life, boasting some fantastic beach front restaurants. One we discovered was Top Secret whose prawn, mango and coconut curry along with a piña colada (or two) became one of my holiday highlights.
My final tasting test was Arrack – the locally distilled whisky. Having watched men climbing palm trees to collect the sap from coconut flowers used to make it I thought I’d better give it a go, but one sip was more than enough for me and a bottle came back in my suitcase for dad to enjoy instead!
Sri Lanka was a fascinating country to visit, only improved by the food and hospitality we received – a holiday destination I would recommend to anyone.