Back in Lanka

It’s been just over a week since returning back to Sri Lanka after almost 6 months in the UK! I’ve decided to start a new journal section here on Style in Sri Lanka to capture everyday life as well as the guides and reviews I’ve been posting for several years.

The photos here will mainly be taken on my smartphone while the rest of the blog features photos (all my own) taken on my professional camera.

My boyfriend and I are incredibly lucky that both of our jobs fall into the digital nomad realm, he with coding & website developing and myself with travel photography. I’ve never been one for living a ‘normal’ 9-5 life!

Since arriving, we’ve settled into our rented house in Dehiwala. A stone’s throw from a local Sri Venkateshwara Maha Vishnu Moorthy Kovil (what a mouthful!), we often sit out on the balcony and listen to the morning prayers while watching the neon green parakeets squabble in the trees.

Talking of mouthfuls, our butler Ranjit is an incredible cook. Last night he prepared one of my favourite dishes, bitter gourd salad, the crispy salty vegetable which fast disappeared as I took my first, second and third helping.

It’s the kind of food that inspires me to make subtle noises of satisfaction, munching away with a smile on my face as I appreciate the meal wholly in the present. Sri Lankan food does this a lot to me, especially when I eat with my hand.

He also cooked a searfish curry, a meaty white fish in a turmeric infused gravy. We bought searfish from the supermarket a couple of days ago for dinner, the difference between what we had last night to the other is incomparable. We learnt our lesson- seafood is best bought from specialist sellers, not supermarkets!

He cooked prawn curry the day before which was also delicious- I snook in the kitchen to take a photo in the pan! It was a treat after an intense pilates session at Om Shambhala!

I look forward to sharing our latest experiences and tips with you and promise to update the journal as often as possible!

A Foodie’s Guide to Galle Fort

Once a sleepy village morphing into what can only be described as a ghost town post 8pm, Galle Fort is now a buzzing epicentre of the South Coast. Brimming with sights, smells and sounds in every nook, the Fort encompasses the vibrant diversity of the island.

Nowadays Galle Fort is laden with multicultural culinary delights, all conveniently tucked within the magnetic ambience of the historic ramparts. There are charming multicultural eateries: Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Indian and Middle Eastern amongst the many local flavours of Sri Lankan cuisine.

To preempt your foodie ponderings, I’ve tasted my way across Galle Fort to share my personal favourites. While exploring by foot for the first time is best experienced map free, I recommended listing a few names of restaurants at the ready for mealtimes.

I like to flag mine on Google Maps as ‘want to go’, a screenshot of how my map currently looks is above- green flags are places I want to try in the future, hearts are favourites and blue squares are hotels I’ve stayed at.

While there are countless eateries to choose from, time is likely limited. My intention with this foodie guide is to use all my research (with visits to both the good and the not so good!) so I can recommend just a handful of highlights serving the best food in the Fort.


Poonie’s Kitchen $$

63 Pedlar Street (through Tallentire & Mimimango)

Specialising in fresh, locally sourced Sri Lankan produce, Poonie’s Kitchen is best described in two words: mouthwatering nourishment. Founder Jo Eden is a visionary in creating innovative nutrition-packed sustenance and was one of the initiators behind the health conscious food concept ever expanding in recent years across the country.

Poonie’s signature dish is no doubt the delightfully instagrammable ‘salad thali’ (inspired by Indian thalis i.e small bowls of piquant vegetarian curries presented on one larger metal plate) featuring an ensemble of oh so moreish kaleidoscopic salads

With perfectly seasoned (crunchy on the outside creamy in the middle) warm new potatoes, refreshing grated carrot in a light citrus dressing, beetroot raita amongst several others, the thali is topped with a generous portion of avocado (#healthyfats!) and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds for full multisensory goodness.

Her creative fusion is no less than divine, proving (and then some!) that Sri Lankan ingredients aren’t limited to curries alone.

Poonie’s fresh juices and smoothies reign superior in the Fort including local island favourite iced milo with a twist of fresh banana & kithul honey. All drinks are accompanied with a biodegradable straw made from the hollow stem of a local plant, avoiding the near instant sogginess of paper or metallic undertone of stainless steel straws.  


Galley52 $$

52A Church Street

New to the Galle Fort foodie scene, Galley 52 is a real hidden gem in the Fort. A stone’s throw from Pedlar Street running across the middle of the picturesque UNESCO heritage site, the food at Galley 52 incorporates fresh local ingredients with innovative fusion flavours.

We ordered a pescatarian tasting platter in advance- our favourites were the coconut crumbed prawns with a chilli and jaggary sauce, paneer korma and fragrant biriyani also with paneer and a sprinkle of pomegranate.

Don’t forget to order a glass of their signature homemade pink lemonade to beat the heat!


Chambers $$

40 Church Street

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Lamb tagine at Chambers by ©Alice Luker

With a history as rich and exotic as the cuisine, dating back to a bygone era of arab traders, it seems only fitting that a middle eastern restaurant stands proudly in the Fort.

Once the chambers of an attorney-at-law, the restaurant serves a multitude of middle eastern favourites from it’s cosy hub on the ever evolving Church Street.

From a melt in the mouth hearty lamb tagine, zesty hummus with a swirl of olive oil and pinch of chilli powder to spiced grilled aubergine, this is among the best arabic cuisine I’ve tried in Sri Lanka- the #1 being Mama Aida’s in Colombo.

They also serve a selection of Italian pastas which could be a sigh of relief for families with children craving a less exotic taste palette. The fresh seasonal juices go down a treat as does a pot of refreshing mint tea.


Dumplings $

A tiny hole in the wall cafe style restaurant which would be easy to miss if it wasn’t so different from the majority of neighbouring restaurants along the strip. Dumplings specialise in (you guessed it!) fresh Chinese dumplings; veggie, fish or meat.

Their eco friendly presentation in purple/red banana flower adds to the quirky charm, embracing the local while proving a photo friendly option in the Instagram era. Nab the two seats parallel to the street and watch the world go by.


Pilgrim’s $/$$

6 Sudarmalaya Road

An affordable hostel tucked in a quieter street near the ramparts and buddhist temple, the food at Pilgrims’ restaurant is quite exceptional.

Craving a curry free meal? Order a wood fired pizza to share pronto, Pilgrim’s signature dish by reputation.

Expect (almost!) equally delicious salads too. To be honest, the pizza is so good I can’t really remember other dishes. They have a great curation of wine which is available both by the glass and bottle. 


Church Street Social at Fort Bazaar $$$

26 Church Street

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Cashew nut and potato curry with an egg/plain hopper, seeni sambol and lunu miris.

A regular in the pages of Conde Nast and other international publications since its inception, the irresistibly chic Fort Bazaar lovingly embraces its restored historic architecture with balmy Moroccan-eque interiors.

Avoid the midday heat in their air conditioned dining room or opt for the romantic street side verandah in the evening. Several cafe-style seats also await in the air conditioned bar, ideal for a quick coffee stop.

Aside from the killer eggs benedict and egg hoppers with creamy cashew nut & pea curry for breakfast, the à la carte menu at Church Street Social offers an array of western, Asian, Middle Eastern and fusion dishes.

They currently don’t have a liquor license. You’re warmly encouraged to bring your own. Neighbouring Galle Fort Hotel is a convenient spot to buy a bottle or head to the nearest wine shop in Galle town via tuk tuk to avoid a hefty markup.


A Minute by Tuk Tuk $$

The Old Dutch Hospital

With the meditative sounds of the sea softly breaking on the rocks below, A Minute by Tuk Tuk offers one of the best views in Galle Fort, extending along the curve of Rumassala’s Jungle Beach and the elegant Japanese Peace Pagoda.

I must confess, these days I’m not adventurous at A Minute by Tuk Tuk. My go to dish ‘batu moju’, a simple, beautifully presented dish of fluffy paratha bread, caramelised spicy aubergine and dhal served in a rustic banana flower. In my opinion it’s the best dish on the menu.


Galle Fort Hotel $$

28 Church Street

Originally a Dutch mansion built in the 18th century and refashioned in the British colonial era by a family of gem merchants, The Galle Fort Hotel proudly embraces its old-world historic charm in both style and service to the present day.

With a verandah rivalling that of Fort Bazaar’s, I opt to sit here for a quick drink stop. My seating preference for dining overlooks the courtyard.

Creamy crab soup, nourishing beetroot soup (served hot or cold on preference), calamari with a zesty mayonnaise side dressing and seafood ceviche are among the highlights of starters.

Authentic Sri Lankan rice and curry is one of the best in the Fort, with the deceivingly modest item served generously in multiple bowls on a portable side table.


Street Food $

And last but not least, I cannot complete a foodie feature of Galle Fort without mentioning the wonders of street food for a pre-dinner appetizer. Keep your eyes peeled for the wade cart which emerges opposite The Bartizan hotel just before sunset on weekends and public holidays.

Serving up freshly cooked deep fried lentils, with or without prawns accompanied by an optional handful of crispy salted chilis and tempered onion. The wade is served in a small makeshift pouch from newspaper. The full local experience!

You may also spot the Cargills/Elephant House ice cream cart along the ramparts in the afternoon or at the main entrance of the Fort. Despite the multitude of Italian Gelato joints along Pedlar Street in the Fort, there are days every now and then when I fancy the no frills option.

If you have a sweet tooth, try the Lankan favourite ‘pani cadju’ ice cream pot which drizzled with kithul honey and sprinkle of cashew nuts.


Other recommended restaurants in Galle Fort:

Cafe Punto (£)
Family run Sri Lankan cuisine.
42 Pedlar Street

Pedlars Inn Cafe/Pizzeria (££)
Hearty Italian food.
92 Pedlar Street

Fortaleza (££)
Cosy outside dining.
No 9 Church Cross Street
Isle of Gelato (££)
Innovative gelato.
60a Pedlar Street

Sugar Bistro (££)
Stylish & modern casual restaurant.
The Old Dutch Hospital

10 Reasons Why Sri Lanka is the Perfect Foodie Destination

While Sri Lanka’s reputation as a tropical paradise attracts plenty of surfers and beachgoers alike, travelers – especially the particularly culinary-conscious – would be remiss not to indulge in the island’s diverse and delicious cuisine.

Drawing from its multi-ethnic makeup, rich history, and abundance of fresh, flavorful ingredients, Sri Lanka’s food is as colourful and fascinating as the island itself. Read on to see SISL’s top 10 reasons why Sri Lanka is every foodie’s dream!

Continue reading 10 Reasons Why Sri Lanka is the Perfect Foodie Destination

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Recipe by Galle Fort Hotel

One of my favourite foodie spots in Galle Fort is Galle Fort Hotel which is also featured in my foodie guide of Where to Eat and Drink in Galle Fort.

I requested the recipe to share with you here on Style in Sri Lanka as it’s truly delicious. I’ve already published one chicken curry by Jetwing Hotels- this has a richer, creamier sauce fragranced with ginger and lemongrass in comparison to the rustic kick of tamarind in Jetwing’s found here.

The recipe is with boneless chicken. In Sri Lanka meat is often cooked on the bone but as this blog is aimed for an international audience, I decided that boneless would be more suitable and appealing to a larger audience.


Ingredients

For the marinade:
500g boneless chicken cubes
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp roasted curry powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 large onion finely sliced onion
3 sprigs curry leaves
1 1/2 inch piece of rampe
½ tsp chopped ginger
½ tsp chopped garlic
1 stalk of lemongrass
1 piece of cinnamon
2 cloves
1 tsp vegetable oil
Salt to taste
½ a cup thick coconut milk


Method


1. Cut the chicken into cubes and marinate with salt, chilli powder, curry powder and turmeric for about 30 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the sliced onions, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, cinnamon, rampe and cloves in a medium heat till lightly browned.

3. Add the marinated chicken, half of the coconut milk and let it cook for 10 -15 minutes with the lid on.

4. Mix in the rest of the coconut milk bring to boil, reduce the heat to simmer for about 5 minutes till the meat is cooked through.

5. Season to taste and serve hot.


Any tips of your own when cooking this dish? Do share below!

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Kalkudah Crab Curry Recipe by Sun Aqua Pasikudah

As an ever enthusiastic advocate of local cuisine, every pocket of Sri Lanka has its own variation of classic national dishes. Having sampled (ok, scoffed) a multitude of crab curries across the island from Jaffna, Negombo, Bentota to Pasikudah, each equally delicious interpretation is unique whether it’s the type of crab, technique or spices used.

In a province abundant with some the freshest, juiciest seafood on the island, the succulant Kalkudah crab curry at Sun Aqua in Pasikudah was one of the most memorable variations I have been all to delighted to review. Soaked in a perfectly indulgent creamy coconut sauce infused with piquant spices, I couldn’t resist sharing the recipe with you!

Continue reading Kalkudah Crab Curry Recipe by Sun Aqua Pasikudah

Where to Eat Sri Lankan Food in Colombo

There is some truly mouthwatering cuisine to be enjoyed amidst the ever growing restaurant scene in Colombo. From a diverse fanfare of international favourites to Sri Lanka’s specialty of rice and curry (both traditional and fusion), there’s something to stimulate everyone’s senses in the city.

As an enthusiastic advocate of curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner, its my pleasure to introduce my tried and tested ‘go to’ destinations to enjoy the wonders of Sri Lankan food in Colombo.  Continue reading Where to Eat Sri Lankan Food in Colombo

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Recipe by Jetwing

Next up on my top Sri Lankan recipes is a real favourite of mine; Jetwing’s mouth-watering chicken curry. It’s surprisingly easy and works alongside any array of vegetable dishes, perfectly lapped up with Pol Roti or rice.

Continue reading Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Recipe by Jetwing