This month we are featuring the foods and dishes of Sri Lanka! If you like foods with lots of spices, aromatics and big flavours, then you will love Sri Lankan cuisine. This island nation is located south of India in the Indian ocean, and Sri Lanka's cuisine is greatly influenced by its tropical climate, with heavy use of coconut, fish, and local fruits and vegetables.
Sri Lankan food has some similarities to South Indian cuisine, with their rich curries, rice dishes, and spicy foods, although there are distinct differences that set the former Ceylon nation apart. Serious Eats writer Naomi Tomky describes these differences between Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine perfectly:
"There are some common elements, to be sure. But the "rice and curry" spreads that make up most Sri Lankan meals are pretty different from the northern saag paneer or Goan vindaloo at your local lunch buffet. Sri Lankan food offers a vivid array of flavor combinations: sweet caramelized onion relishes, bitter melon, spicy scraped coconut, and the burn of curry tamed by mild rice, and palm sugar sweetened desserts." (source)
Popular ingredients in a Sri Lankan kitchen:
Spices, spices and more spices - make sure your cupboard is stocked with cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, cumin, fennel, mustard seed, ginger, turmeric, and saffron
Curry Leaves - typically fried in oil before adding to curries
Pandan Leaves - these long green leaves taste lightly of vanilla and are used to flavour rice and curries
Chillies - over 60 varieties of chillies grow on the island and are an integral part of making delicious curries
Coconut - fresh coconut juice is just the beginning of its use in the kitchen. Coconut flesh is pickled and served as a condiment. Coconut shells are used as serving dishes. Coconut milk and shredded coconut are staple ingredients in desserts.