Sri Lanka Rice and curry
Sri Lanka Rice and curry
Rice and curry, the island’s popular signature dish, is served up in just about every restaurant across the land. A really good Sri Lankan rice and curry can be a memorable experience,Typical Sri Lankan curry sauces (known as kiri hodhi, or “milk gravy”) are made from coconut milk mixed with chillies and various other spices like a Thai green or red curry than anything you’ll find in India.
Basic rice and curry (not “curry and rice” – the rice is considered the principal ingredient), as served up in local cafés islandwide, consists of a plate of rice topped with a few dollops of veg curry and/or dhal, a hunk of chicken or fish and a spoonful of sambol . More Advanced versions comprise a large bowl of rice accompanied by as many as fifteen side dishes (a kind of miniature banquet said to have been inspired by Indonesian nasi padang, which was transformed by the Dutch into the classic rijsttafel, or “rice table”, and introduced to Sri Lanka sometime in the eighteenth century).
These generally include a serving of meat or fish curry plus accompaniments such as curried pineapple, potato, aubergine (brinjal), sweet potato, okra (lady’s fingers) and dhal. Other commonly encountered local vegetable dishes include curried jackfruit, so-called “drumsticks” (murunga – a bit like okra) and kankun (also spelt kangkung), or “water spinach”, usually stir-fried with other ingredients or on its own.
You might also be served ash plantain (alu kesel), snake gourd (patolah), bitter gourd (karawila) and breadfruit (del), along with many more outlandish and unpronounceable types of regional produce. Another common accompaniment is mallung: shredded green vegetables,lightly stir-fried with spices and grated coconut.
Rice and curry is usually served with a helping of sambol, designed to be mixed into your food to give it a bit of extra kick. Sambols come in various forms,the most common being pol sambol (coconut sambol), an often eye-watering combination of chilli powder, chopped onions, salt, grated coconut and Maldive fish. Treat it with caution.
You might also come across the slightly less overpowering lunu miris, consisting of chilli powder, onions, Maldive fish and salt; and the more gentle, sweet-and-sour seeni sambol (“sugar sambol”).
Sri Lanka produces many types of rice, but the stuff served in restaurants is usually fairly low-grade, although you may occasionally come across the nutritious and distinctively flavoured red and yellow rice (a bit like brown rice in taste and texture) that are grown in certain parts of the island.