Tripin 2017 - 2018 - page 89

generations here can tell you the Ayurvdedic
nature of every ingredient in every dish.
Coriander aids digestion and is a detoxifying
agent, pepper is used to treat nervous and
skin disorders, curry leaves help cholesterol,
allergies and even treat snake bites. In fact,
just about all traditional Sri Lankan recipes
balance taste with the medicinal properties in
the ingredients - a philosophy which is sadly
being lost in the mainstream today but is
being resurrected by a new wave of passionate
new businesses around the island, preserving
traditional values, and carving out a truly
unique foodie destination.The range of grains,
fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices with their
unique wellness-promoting qualities means
the future is looking very bright for Sri
Lankan cuisine, as it starts to gather attention
on an international stage. The West has long
had a taste for exotic, spiced dishes from
Indian, Chinese, and Thai flavours. Could we
be sitting on the next great cuisine?
What is equally appealing to a chef with a
background in luxury 5-star hotel kitchens are
the primitive tools still being used to create
traditional dishes. Every Sri Lankan will tell
you the best dishes are cooked in clay pots on
small chimneys over fire wood - the method
still commonly used in village areas. The miris
gala or traditional grind stone is used daily
to make pastes and sambols that can never
be replicated in a modern food processor. (I
know because I have tried.) Home-ground
spice mixes will always be more fragrant and
potent than mass produced blends that still, of
course, have their culinary value.
For those who have yet to experience
authentic rice and curry, a real experience
is yet to come. Rice is given the highest
importance by being listed first on any menu
and in the way it is served proudly placed at
the centre of each plate or banana leaf as the
back bone of the country. Red rice, favoured
for its low glycemic index, is the preferred
choice surrounded by a variety of spicy
curries, sambals, and accompaniments. Made
from scratch, the ritual of preparing and
serving such a meal is a gargantuan labour of
love and therefore highly rewarding. Despite
being the most popular meal island-wide, it is
far too labour-intensive for the modern family
to cook and prepare daily, and convenience
products such as spice mixes, coconut milk
powder, and even washed and prepared
vegetables have become the norm. Delicious
complete meals known as ”rice packets” are
readily available and inexpensive.
As the West imposes high-profit, fast-food
business on traditional cultures, the obesity
epidemic and health concerns have become as
prevalent here as anywhere else in the world,
and as the country lives between the old and
the new, the future of what we should eat is
in question.
Sri Lanka is on the brink of a boom in tourism
and new businesses as the country captures
the world’s imagination for its diversity,
authenticity, and astounding culture and
natural beauty. The modern traveler will
find the richest experiences feasting on local
cuisine wherever they go here; only a handful
of top hotels and restaurants manage to pull
off international cuisine in a proper way. Fear
not - this could be a blessing and will lead you
on a journey of discovery that may even effect
the way you eat in your own country. Take
some clay chatti pots, hopper pans, pestle
and mortars (if you can carry them), coconut
spoons, and spices home and merge it with
your own cuisine.
If the world can take just one thing away from
Sri Lankan cuisine, it would perhaps be that
modernizing is not always progress. The talent
pool of Sri Lankan chefs around the world is
astounding for the size of the population, and
more often than not they have mastered their
craft in international cuisines, kitchen artistry,
European patisserie and bakery. Yet the
future of Sri Lankan cuisine will be about re-
discovering the country’s past, reconnecting
with local ingredients, cooking techniques and
philosophies that have nearly been forgotten.
When I go out to eat, I want to try a cook’s
version of something their grandmother
used to make. I look for pastry shops that
follow old Dutch Burgher recipes. I want to
see creative young chefs studying the cuisine
of the indigenous Veddahs shown in their
own contemporary interpretation. I want fast
food cafes that use local ingredients and talk
about the health and energy giving values of
what I’m about to eat. As the world discovers
this tiny paradise island I now call home, I
believe this resurgent localism will bring the
right kind of experiences within tourism and
put Sri Lanka on the world map as a culinary
destination, meanwhile preserving cultural
culinary heritage and wisdom and supporting
the health and well-being of the communities
living here. That’s what I call progress.
Adam trained at The Dorchester Hotel in London,
the Michelin starred Greenhouse in Mayfair, and
the iconic 7-star Burj al Arab, Dubai.
He was sous-chef at the Flying Fish restaurant in
Sydney, and headed the fine dining restaurants at
the luxurious Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, and
Soneva Kiri in Thailand.
His latest assignment as Executive Chef at the
legendary Galle Face Hotel in Sri Lanka is his
most exciting role to date, overseeing the culinary
operations of this magnificent heritage property.
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