rice, curry and beyond

Whenever we ask a waiter or a store attendant on what food they would recommend, ALL of them would say one, and only one dish… RICE AND CURRY. Be it an unassuming side street eatery or a hatted restaurant, like a busted pre recorded talking doll, press the button and they will utter–RICE AND CURRY! RICE AND CURRY! RICE AND CURRY!

We know that this dish will be omnipresent throughout this trip because we have been warned, so we tried straying away from it on our first day.

We found Theva and made it our sweet refuge in Kandy. The place is unrealistic and the ambiance is surreal. We thought that we deserved a break and it was a place that  was a perfect compensation for our semi-shitty lives. Since we were already nested in  a perfect sanctuary, we took Gay and Shervin’s experience as a lesson and decided to scrap the whole Nuwara Eliya plan. We shifted to first gear and extended our stay in Kandy where we had the perfect time to talk and catch-up on each others’ beezwax.

Other than digging our heads in books, shedding off wrath through laugh trips, catching up on gossip back home, pruning in the jacuzzi and staring blank like a catatonic lemur from the window… we indulged into an orgy—of FOOD!

But it was not just gluttony; we went on a bit of a history lesson through food trip. Now who would cut classes if this is the class room?

Sri Lanka is an island on the route of the legendary conquests of European explorers to the Far East. Like a big mound of floating forest in the middle of the high Indian Ocean, trade and expedition galleons all had their mandatory stopover to this Eden. This made Sri Lankan cuisine rich and fused with other influences from both The Far East and The Big West.

Spice was considered gold in the past which made India, including Sri Lanka, as a hot spot for bounty hunters. Indeed, spice is placed on a pedestal even by modern Sri Lankans, and the old kitchen favorites remain on mortar stones as they are still being used in everyday dishes.

The Northern African kingdom of Morocco shared spice trades with old Ceylon. Like playing trump cards, they swapped sacks of mills and grains.

 

Theva serves delicately crafted fusion dishes, their Coconut Crusted Moroccan chicken with curried couscous was the dish Monette and I silently fought over. The desiccated coconut crust gave a texture that went really well with the nibble-worthy couscous and complementing peanut sauce.

To match the imported couscous entree, a parallel dish was served on our table.

Fish baked in banana leaf with olu rice. The olu rice is technically not rice, but seeds of a native lotus flower. The neutralizing gotu kola sambol on the side made the dish truly Sinhalese.

Theva also made our stay in Kandy sinful and sweet. A selection of beautiful desserts paraded in front of us and I was blown away by the caliber of the Chef and his kitchen team to come up with such creative plates. Tropical fruits as core ingredients finished with western style and techniques?! SERIOUSLY?! This clearly made me ask myself “Am I really a backpacker? This is luxuriously unacceptable!

Guava cheesecake with blueberry coulis

 

dark and white chocolate and passion fruit sauce

 

rum flambe pancake with local fruits and home made vanilla ice cream

 

… and my personal favorite The wicked Watalappan

Made of coconut milk, jaggery, cashew nuts, eggs, and various spices like cardamom, cloves and nutmeg, the Watalappan closely resembles our very own Filipino colonial Leche Flan. With a Moor and Malayan twist, this dessert captivated my heart unconditionally. This is another evidence of Europe-Asia trade influence. And I must say, this Theva’s version is the best among all other versions I sampled in the country.

 

After the gluttonous afternoon, just like any other Holidays we slept to inexorable slumber until we were awakened for a traditional feast that we requested.

THE famous Rice and Curry. Oh yeah, I knew it was coming but I never saw THIS coming. And this is not an optical illusion! That’s an overwhelming 19 plates of flavor-packed condiments. We felt like we ate half of the spices and herbs known to mankind.

This icon is really something they can be proud of. It represents everything Sri Lankan–the rich culture is screaming pungent as pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamon, nutmeg and the list goes on. Chef Sujith Ratnayake granted our request to adjust the piquancy of the dish as Monette turns in to ash upon eating anything a scoville unit higher from tabasco sauce.

The common route of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon is via Malacca strait to the Indian Ocean, before heading to Cape Town and the Trans-Atlantic, plus a stopover in Ceylon, left resonating influence in using fruits like guava and avocado in dishes and dips.

Our breakfast the following morning was a mini feast celebrating Cinco de Mayo.

The generous serving of burrito and quesadilla, and the magnificent view of the fog blanketed Kandy restrained me to run around dancing like a wild mariachi and start hitting Monette’s puta shorts with a cricket bat like a hideous plaid piñata.

Russel Leonard, Chef Ratnayake and the rest of Theva boys did a remarkable job in making this whole food trip experience truly unforgettable.


  • http://www.super-tikoy.blogspot.com Supertikoy

    wow! talk about culinary arts…not sure if i’ll just stare at the food or eat it at once, except for the sweets!

    elibs na ako sa hotel na yan ah. great room, great food pa!

  • http://lakad-pilipinas.blogspot.com Christian | Lakad Pilipinas

    Definitely Beyond!
    Todo yung kondimyento ah hehe

  • http://fliptravels.com/ flip’n travels

    @Jerome, wagi ang place na to… lalo na yung staff, very accommodating… amazingly, the boys know a lot of Filipino/Tagalog words, which totally freaked us out. hahaha

  • http://fliptravels.com/ flip’n travels

    Christian… yes, we stared at it for a moment, we didn’t know where to start. Thanks :-)

  • http://www.wearesolesisters.com/ Lois

    Yum yum yum! I could just gobble this post up! Looking forward to visiting Sri Lanka. Malapit lapit na sana yun sa India. Too many countries… so little erm money.

  • http://myexpatgermany.com Laurel

    I had no idea there were so many different spices in Sri Lanka. The Coconut crusted Moroccan chicken had my mouth watering.

  • http://www.europeantravelista.com Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista

    Amazing looking food! Wow I want to go there just for the amazing meals you enjoyed. I don’t think I would have been to excited about rice and curry either but after seeing all the things that go along with it, I would have been diving in :)

  • http://struxtravel.com Michael Figueiredo

    Wow! All this food looks amazing! Sri Lanka hasn’t really been on my travel radar, but if all the food looks this good, I’ll have to rethink that :)

  • http://www.budgettraveladventures.com/ Jeremy Branham

    Rice and curry are delicious but I will skip all of that and go right to the desserts! Yummy! :)

  • http://vagabond3.com jade

    YUM!! Coconut crusted chicken?! I need some of that now!

  • http://www.technosyncratic.com/ Christy @ Technosyncratic

    Love the history lesson and photos – the only thing missing in front of me is a sample of all that tasty food. 😉 The Guava Cheesecake sounds absolutely delightful.

  • http://www.thedropoutdiaries.com The Dropout

    I have no idea why you were avoiding curry and rice. It looks FANTASTIC! (I’d even skip dessert so I could try every one of those curries!)

  • http://www.lakwatseradeprimera.com lakwatsera de primera

    Pati sa rice and curry post, mega mention pa rin talaga ang puta shorts ni Monette LOL! Is the effect on you that intoxicating? 😉

  • http://flipnomad.com flip

    ginutom ako sa post na ito… ang ganda ng hotel nyo dyan sa sri lanka ron…

  • http://fliptravels.com/ flip’n travels

    @Lois… agree. how i wish we win the lottery and travel for the rest of our lives.

  • http://fliptravels.com/ flip’n travels

    @Laurel, the dish was heaven… the crunchy the crust melts perfectly with sauce, and it was the first time we ever tried couscous.

    @Debbie, we actually loved the rice and curry. though some are too spicy! like that roasted chili on the left. now im craving for the prawn curry and papadum.

    @Michael, you should go to sri lanka, stay tuned for more tips that we learned (the hard way) in our future posts

    @Jeremy, He how are you? the desserts are indeed, sinful!

    @Jade, me too. I will try to replicate that this weekend.

    @Christy, I am now wishing that there’s a device that will allow you to smell the pictures in the internet. i can still remember the guava cheese cake melting in my mouth

    @the dropout, we are avoiding it not because we don’t like it. we are avoiding it on our first day because we got a tip that rice and curry dishes are EVERYWHERE in sri lanka. It’s an absolute “must try”

    @lakwatsera de primera, opkors!!! legendary na ang puta shorts na yun, ipapa auction na nga namin. bid ka ha.

    @Flip, the hotel is magnificent, the boys will make you feel like a king!!!

  • http://www.sophiesworld.net Sophie

    Nom nom! Everything looks super-delicious!

  • http://flipnomad.com flip

    tinitingnan ko na naman yung pic ng mga food hehe… ron gawa ka food blog galing mo mag pic ng food…

  • http://www.baconismagic.ca Ayngelina

    Oh good lord I need to go here, it’s definitely my kind of place.

  • http://www.thetravelchica.com The Travel Chica

    I don’t think I could ever leave that place!

  • http://www.lakwatserangbayong.com kim and mj

    WOW! Srilanka was not on our bucket list but thanks to this, it is now. Capital YUM!

  • http://fliptravels.com/ flip’n travels

    @sophie … they taste really good too, thanks for dropping by.
    @flip… thanks pre, i was actually thinking of that, i just wish i have time to, hahaha. one blog is keeping us up all night, whew!
    @Ayngelina… you wont regret it… the place is amazing.
    @kim and mj… korek, make than Capital YUM exclamation point exclamation point. hahaha, thanks girls!

  • http://www.btlau.wordpress.com bonnie

    omg, that rice & curry look so so so good. I love having a bunch of coloring little dishes laid out in front of me, so exciting for the pallets. Lol, I feel sorry for the dishwasher, oh I do

  • http://www.pinoyboyjournals.com pinoyboyjournals

    good to know meron pa rin iba bukod sa curry dahil di ako mahilig. goodluck sakin sa october! mukhang pampered kayo dito ha. mukhang masarap din ang food at excellent ang service.

  • Steve

    Wow… Delicious food recipe presented here! All are looking so greedy and attractive. Truly said, I like to tested them for my feeding. Thanks a lot for nice sharing!
    Steve