The taste of Sri Lanka: Three of the island's best dishes

The taste of Sri Lanka: Three of the island's best dishes
Sri Lankan Cuisine. Photo: Shutterstock Images

The Pearl of the Indian Ocean and home to Asia's largest biodiversity - Sri Lanka is an absolute gastronomical paradise! Separated from India by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, Sri Lanka is one of India's favourite travel destinations. It is therefore well accustomed to being a gracious host, capable of catering to the various taste pallets visiting its ethereally beautiful lands.

A walk through Sri Lanka's bustling streets presents its guests with aromatic pleasures that allure them towards the delicacies being cooked. Fresh coastal flavours delight the taste buds and leave a lasting impression.

For those who've been to the island, know what we are talking about and will love the upcoming recipes. For those who are yet to visit Sri Lanka, there’s no better way to get Sri Lanka to you.

Presenting our top Sri Lankan food recipes
1. Paripu Vadai
This crispy spicy treat is loved by everyone and is a must during the cooler months. Here’s how to make this Chana dal vada, Shri Lankan style.

Paripu Vadai. Photo: Shutterstock Images

½ cup of Bengal Gram (Chana Dal)
1 medium-sized onion (chopped)
1 Green Chilli (seeded and chopped)
½ inch of ginger (grated)
4-5 Curry leaves (chopped)
4 sprigs of coriander leaves (finely chopped)
Oil (for frying)

Wash and soak the dal for 2 to 3 hours. Once soaked, drain the water and churn the dal in a blender to form a coarse paste. If too coarse and chunky, you can add a tablespoon or so of water; but the overall texture should be coarse
Add the dal with the onions, green chilli, ginger, curry leaves, coriander, and salt to a mixing bowl. Mix to form a homogeneous mixture
(Caution the mixture shouldn't be too dry or watery in its consistency. If, however, it is too watery, you can add gram flour or besan to rectify it)
Divide the mixture to form a round shape of the size you like (you might want to grease your hands with oil before it so that the mixture doesn’t stick to your hands)
In a frying pan, heat oil and deep fry the vadais. Once golden brown, take them out and place them on a blotting paper to drain off the excess oil
That’s it! Serve these tasty treats with coriander chutney or ketchup at tea time, and you’ll have a super hit dish on your hands.

2. Egg Hoppers
Perhaps the first dish that comes to mind when you think of Sri Lankan cuisine, the egg hopper is considered a staple breakfast dish there. The recipe is simple; one needs a proper hopper (or appam) pan to get the shape and texture right. It may take a couple of tries to get right, but don’t worry, it is well worth the effort. Plus, if you master making appam, you can cook up an entire coastal meal centred around it.

Egg Hoppers. Photo: Shutterstock Images

Here's what you need to make this deliciousness in your kitchens
2 cups of rice flour
½ cup of granulated sugar
1½ cups of coconut milk
¾ cup of water
1 tablespoon of active dry yeast
1½ teaspoons of warm water
1 teaspoon of sugar
¾ cup of cooked basmati rice
1½ cups of coconut milk
Fresh eggs

In a bowl, mix 2 cups of rice flour, ½ cup of granulated sugar, 1 ½ cups of coconut milk and ¾ cup of water
In another bowl, set aside the yeast to proof by mixing the yeast, warm water and sugar and leaving it till it triples in volume
In a blender, blend the cooked rice and coconut milk to form a thick paste
Combine the proofed yeast with the blended rice mixture and the rice flour mixture. Stir to make sure the resultant mixture has no lumps in it. Cover the mixture and keep it in a warm place to further ferment (Ideally, it should double in size)
Over medium heat, place the hoppers pan. Once hot, spoon a ladle of the batter onto it. Swirl the batter to coat the pan evenly
Break an egg in the middle of the pan and allow it to cook for 2 to three minutes
Use a spatula to get the hopper of the pan and serve
That's it; your hopper is ready to be devoured
You can serve this with Sri Lankan spices (or, in the absence of it, paprika), caramelized onions and toasted coconut flesh. Locals fold it and eat it like a taco, but you are free to do it your way!

3. Ginger Beer (non-alcoholic)
This refreshing drink is a must when traversing the hot coastal lands of Lanka! Here’s what you need, to bring a slice of the island home:

Ginger Beer. Photo: Shutterstock Images

100gms of ginger (sliced)
100gms of sugar
½ cup of water
Carbonated water (soda)
1 tablespoon of lime juice

Use a blender to make a thick paste of ginger and water
With a strainer extract the ginger juice into a bowl
Add the sugar to the ginger extract
Use a pan to boil the ginger-sugar mixture till the sugar melts. Once the sugar melts, turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool off
To the cool mixture, add the lime and strain again
Refrigerate the mixture and use it as a concentrate for future use
When you’re ready to serve, add the soda to ¼ glass of the concentrate and serve! Don’t forget the ice!

We've told you ours; tell us your favourite Sri Lankan recipes too!

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