If you are a real foodie, as you travel to different parts of the world, of the many memories that you gather, the ones that you will treasure the most will be of the cuisines. Talking about food, of all the meals that I have enjoyed during my travel, the morning meals have always been a real gourmet experience. After all who wouldn’t like to start their day with trays of cold cuts and cheese, assortment of rolls and croissants, golden yolked eggs, heaping plates of fruits, stack of syrup-soaked pancakes, along with a pot of strongly brewed tea? Also spending a good amount of time at the breakfast table gave me a chance to learn a lot about the local food habits and customs and how each place had their own surprises in store.
On one such trip to Sri Lanka, as I headed towards the omelette counter at the breakfast buffet, the young and exuberant chef behind the counter smiled and asked: ‘English or Sri Lankan?’ Before I could decipher his query, the man behind me promptly said, ‘two Sri Lankan omelette please’. I graciously gave way to the man and stood in a corner out of sheer curiosity to know what makes an omelette in Sri Lanka so different from the one that I grew up having almost everyday for breakfast. The chef whisked two eggs and alongside chopped onions, a handful of green chillies, few tomatoes, and I thought he was done.
But to my surprise there were more ingredients waiting to be added. He added chopped sprigs of curry leaves, a teaspoon of cumin powder, and 1 teaspoon of curry powder, something that I had never imagined could be part of an omelette. Then in a large skillet he sautéed all the chopped ingredients in a teaspoon of oil and added the cumin and curry powder. He poured the egg mixture into the frying pan and let it set before folding it. Immensely fascinated, I asked one for myself, ready to taste the re-creation of an ordinary omelette for the first time.
The succulent fillings of the omelette made it tastier and soon the chef came in with more revelations and introduced me to something called curried omelette. All you need to do is to roll the omelette and then slice into squares first and then prepare a curry with sliced onions, curry leaves, cinnamon stick, ginger, garlic, and fenugreek seeds. The omelette pieces are added to the curry and served hot (see recipe). During my stay while I realised that Sri Lankan food had close similarity with South Indian cuisine, there were few things that were distinctly different and that reflected more in their spices.
Most of their foods had rich flavours and were spice laden. Rice and curry being their staple was found almost everywhere and to my surprise they were even served for breakfast. In a day or two in Sri Lanka I understood that there’s nothing more easily available than a plate of rice and curry. The deviled fish curries in different flavours often made it to the buffet spread and that’s how I found out that they were quite a specialty in the region. In any deviled fish curry, the fish is first deep fried and then smothered in the sauce of one’s choice and later again fried with onions.
Street foods in Sri Lanka also have a special place and one must not miss the kottu roti. It is shredded pieces of Sri Lankan roti, that is stir fried with an assortment of spices and a choice of other meaty (or vegetarian) ingredients. In Muscat if you are craving for a slice of Sri Lanka on your plate then visit Mars Restaurant in Al Khuwair, opposite Mars Hypermarket. Go for Lamprais or lump rice, the famous Sri Lankan rice dish which is rice with mixed meat and aubergine curry, wrapped in a banana leaf and baked in an oven. Give it a try. [email protected]
Sri Lankan Food in Muscat Mars Restaurant, Al Khuwair + 968 9433 5820