A TASTE OF SRI LANKA
Whisking the intrepid down into the paddy fields in the outskirts of Galle, the local chefs at Village Rider give you the chance to cook like a local. Under the eaves of a hut, vegetable fish curries are whipped up before your eyes, with herbs from nearby farmers, all cooked to perfection in clay pots. During our cookery lesson, the air was thick with the scent of spices.
Into the clay pots went chopped green leaves, foraged locally, mixed with black pepper and freshly, hand-grated coconut to make a sambal dish so delicious I wanted to stuff the leftovers in my pocket. Made to a traditional recipe, our teacher explained that our sambal was a Sri Lankan superfood, good for both the skin and the soul.
“Nothing processed in here,” he laughed as we tucked in to seconds. For something entirely different but nonetheless delicious, The Ministry of Crab in downtown Colombo is not to be missed. Housed in a 400-year-old former Dutch hospital, the interior is simple – dark wood tables, stone floors and an open kitchen to peer at the chefs at work.
Dharshan Munidasa, the chef and owner of this vibrant and lively eatery, served his staple dishes at a pop-up in The Shard in London in summer last year and has a strict “no freezing” policy, meaning each and every crab is fresh and caught locally from Beira Lake. I couldn’t resist the menu and, unable to choose between chilli, pepper, butter or garlic marinated crab, I donned a bib and ordered them all. I was not disappointed. The crab meat was tender and the peppery garlic sauce moreish.