Apart from dishes made with carrots, Sri Lankan food fest is teeming with other delicacies
If you are an appam lover or a die-hard fan of carrots in any form, you must try the ongoing Sri Lankan food at the Marriott. Chef Sahan Prabodha is in the city to curate the food fest.
Sri Lankan food has a stark similarity to South Indian food because of the widespread use of coconut and spices. Not to forget the generous inclusion of carrots. So, when the sambol, a starter made with grated carrot and coconut came, I began imagining all the good the beta-carotene will be doing to the body.
Unfortunately, I found chewing on carrot and coconut with a dash of lemon a boring exercise.
Then I switched to the caramelised onions. They were yum. A tad surprised about carrot and onions as table munchies, I turned to chef Sahan Prabodha from Marriott Hotel Wellagama, Sri Lanka, for an explanation. “These are not exactly starters; they are accompaniments for the food that will follow,” he said. I thanked my stars that I didn’t complain about the boring carrot ‘starter’.
Sri Lankan food is all about eating and cooking what is natively available. So a lot of sea food is a must. Being an island nation, the abundance of coconut also finds its way into the cuisine, apart from the coconut water being a natural thirst quencher. Talking of drinks, a coconut cocktail arrives. By now I really wanted to know what made the bar tender mix coconut water with vodka and tonic water. Nevertheless I took a sip, nervously. Brilliant! This shows the cuisine and its the improvisation are not a merely a result of the random use of available ingredients. It is well thought out and experimented.
I didn’t have to nurse the caramelised onions alone for long. Prawns coated with coconut and crumbs fried to perfection with the onions tasted out of this world. I decided to let go of the carrot sambol and concentrated on the other veggies and fruits that came as a pre-plated taster. Mango with coarsely crushed pepper and spices might sound weird, but they tasted amazing. More carrots with other veggies were left untouched on my plate .
The red rice that came for the main course is something that has to be tasted. It is naturally sweet and goes well with spicy curries. If all that carrot was not enough, another carrot stew came in which I refused to acknowledge.
The waiter was quick to cheer me up with a creamy, spicy chicken curry with perfect curry cut chicken pieces. The rice and the curry make for a great combination. I let the fish curry pass and settled for appam with more chicken curry. The Sri Lankan appams are slightly crisp but delicious nonetheless.
The food festival is on at Bidri, Mariott until May 6, for dinner. 9666412009 for reservations.