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In search of the perfect Sri Lankan spread...

This week, Indulge introduces a gourmet palate that is quite difficult to please. Enter Bojoon.com, a website dedicated to rediscovering the art and tastes of Sri Lankan cooking. Starting today, Bojoon’s Sandamalee De Fonseka teams up with The Nation to take you on a culinary adventure in search of all those uniquely Sri Lankan tastes, from the spiciest rice and curry to the perfect hopper….

I was dreaming of hot, hot rice with spicy curries and was despairing as Colombo seemed to be zilch on our own food! There was plenty of Chinese, Indian, Thai and Japanese but woe to those in search of our own, tantalising Sri Lankan rice and curries.

There’s of course the Curry Leaf at Colombo Hilton, but it is shoved in a corner like Cinderella that you just don’t feel the warmth of traditional Sri Lankan hospitality you’d expect with the thundering bill.

The next best ‘posh’ option would be Raja Bojun at Ceylinco Towers with its wide vista of the Indian Ocean. The food is wonderful here with a very good selection of typical Sri Lankan village-style dishes – including hoppers, even at lunch time. However, it’s the desserts and the service that let the place down badly.

The only thing that could be said about the desserts is, stay away from them! If you must have some dessert after your meal, stick with the tropical fruits. The service is not unfriendly, but decidedly rough and unsophisticated. The ghastly uniforms don’t help either and not a drop comes out of the hot water taps.

Sri Lankan hospitality is supposed to be warm, friendly and pleasant – so unless you’re only there for the rice and curry and don’t mind leaving reeking of curry, Raja Bojun doesn’t cut it either, especially if you are entertaining.
Luckily, the most unassuming places like the Spicy Cabin – just in front of the Nawala Cushion Works – and Gamé Kadé at Salaka come to the rescue. Relatively clean, they promise nothing more than rice and curry, and a good serving of well-prepared rice and a variety of curries is just what one would get.

The service is always friendly, unassuming and obliging in these places. Of course, whether you can entertain here is another matter altogether, particularly since you are expected to stand in line while being served at Gamé Kadé.
The starry hotels in Colombo should certainly take a leaf out of their resort sisters, which dish out some of the best rice and curries ever. The food at Kandalama is legendary and needs no further mention, and Chaaya Village comes a close second.

The Sri Lankan food corner is not hidden in the buffet as in most other places, instead it is the first thing that encounters the guest. The typical village-fare is so enticing that it’s impossible to ignore and step towards the other dishes, as wonderful as they may be.

Another place that serves a very good rice and curry for the travel weary is the Tea Fortress along the Kandy-Colombo Road. The rice and curry is not fancy and there isn’t a wide selection, but it is well-prepared and served piping hot. The tempered dhal curry, the crispy papadam, the lime-drenched fresh sambol and the ghee fried curry leaves sprinkled on top of white rice simply pamper the tired traveller.

The other thing bojoon.com loves about Tea Fortress is that the dishes are filled up as quickly as they empty – just like the olden-day rest-houses. Freshly brewed tea completes the meal and prepares you for your journey onward. Tea Fortress has certainly superseded Thirst Aid Station at Kegalle.

It’s time that Colombo and other ‘tourist’ destinations give rice and curries its due place. If there’s a market for hot and spicy Thai cuisine, then there certainly is a market for the Sri Lankan curries, which boast the entire gamut from mild white and yellow curries, to hot red curries and spicy brown and black curries, with sambols, mallums, fry-ups, mojus and pickles to liven the menu.

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Come on foodies! Gossip with us about food! We’d love to know your food experiences – good, bad, humorous… basically anything and everything. Just drop an email to info@bojoon.com and the most interesting experiences would be published in this column. For more information do visit www.bojoon.com.!

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“ Flip flop” Crèpe Promotion at the Hilton Colombo

Crèpe is a French word for a thin, delicate pancake. Crèpes are consumed as a dessert all around the world. Hilton Colombo will have a crepe promotion from the 1st to 10th July at Spices, Thorana Lounge, Echelon Pub , Emperor’s Wok and Spoons. The famous of all is the crèpe suzette. The origin of “crèpe suzette” is in 1895 waiter Hanri Charpentier discovered it by accident, when he was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales ( King Edward VII of England) and his companion whose first name was Suzette.

“ There will be an action station daily during lunch and dinner at Spices and from 3.00pm to 11.00pm at the Thorana Lounge.” said the hotel’s Marketing Communications Manager, Gigi De Silva. Executive Pastry Chef Gerard Mendis has created a special a la carte menu for this promotion. A variety of paper thin crèpes with an unlimited choice of accompaniments such as ice creams, sauces, candied fruit, berries, chocolate fillings and nuts will be available.

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