Whilst in Sri Lanka I have been lucky enough to join guesthouse, and restaurant chefs in the kitchen, and learn how to make their spicy tasty curries. And yes, while the national dish of rice and curry will be found on every menu in Sri Lanka, there are snacks a dozen to give Greggs a run for their money. Below are some of my favourites:
Iconic to Sri Lanka, it begins with a simple pancake batter that’s spruced up with coconut milk and a splash of toddy (Sri Lankan palm wine). This batter is then fried in a small bowl until a pancake shell/nest is formed. An egg is then cracked in to the nest, and left to fry for a minute or so. Once cooked the egg is generously seasoned with salt and pepper, and served alongside pol sambol (grated coconut, a lot of chilli and onion) and maybe a dhal curry. These are absolutely delicious, sweet yet spicy, and can be eaten for breakfast, dinner or tea. Generally an egg hopper is 20 rupees each (10p).
Pronounced wodee, vendors flock to the streets in dozens shouting ‘wodee, wodee, wodee, wodee, wodee’ selling these little lentil snacks. Soaked lentils are mixed with onions, chilli, curry leaves and various spices before being deep fried. Served in paper from old school books and alongside fried crispy (and mega spicy) chillis, these are a popular snack around the bus stations, or generally on the go. Other variations include a wade with a fried prawn, the prawn is eaten whole, head, shell etc….For 5 rupees each (2/3p) these make a tasty snack inbetween meals.
Curd & Honey
Made from buffalo milk, this curd is not dissimilar to a greek natural yoghurt. The curd is made in thick earthware pots, and often sold in makeshift stalls by the roadside. What makes the curd special is the honey it is served with, a coconut treacle, sweeter, and tastier than the standard lyons treacle you buy in Morrisons. The curd, honey & fruit above will cost something like 120 rupees (60p).
The name gives this one away. Your choice of meat, vegetable or fish is cooked along with a wealth of spices and fresh vegetables to make this fiery little dish a perfect accompaniment to a Lion beer. Similar to a sweet and sour sauce, this dish is loaded with chillis, and made to make your mouth water (and maybe your eyes). Meat is always cooked on the bone for extra flavour, and as always should be ate with your right hand, while you sup with your left. A devilled dish would cost approximately 300 rupees (£1.50).
The equivalent to our pasties and sausage rolls, bakers are filled with rows of different ‘short eats’ varying from fish balls, egg rolls and vegetable pasties to egg rottis, onion bread and chicken sausage rolls. Some of my favourite include the vegetable rotti; mixed vegetables, potatoes and spices, places inside a rotti, folded in to a rectangle shape and fried. Fish balls, mackerel type fish, mixed with chillis, onions and spices, blended in to a paste and filled in a bread roll, before baking.
1 chip in and we were hooked, these were our favourite beer snack. Green bananas are sliced, deep fried, then coated in salt, pepper, chilli, and a couple more secret spices. They don’t sound much, but a bowl of these and a lion beer are all you need for a perfect evening.