Home Chennai Serving up Sri Lanka on a plate

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    From seeni sambal buns and fish cutlets to the ever popular vattilappam, our guide to finding favourites from Sri Lanka

    With influences from British, Portugese and Chettinad cuisine, among others, Sri Lankan food also draws flavour from a host of locally grown chillies. Despite a sizeable population in the city, we find just a handful of places serving Sri Lankan specials like the kottu roti, kiribath and their list of sambals. Here’s where you need to look if you want to discover the cuisine of the island country.

    SSRILANKA15The Supper Club
    Initially for one night only at Social, the newest gastro pub in town, this event by OFERR (an NGO by and for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees) will showcase delicacies prepared by Sri Lankan Tamil refugees. “We have been serving this food to our staff and guests for the past 30 years,” says Poongkothai Chandrahasan, director new programmes of OFERR. “The proceeds from this dinner will go towards sustaining our 100 day care centres across Tamil Nadu,” she adds, pointing out that it takes `1,600 to pay one teacher and servant at a day care centre, for a month. This fund raising dinner, priced at `1,500, will feature organic vegetables from a farm run by the organisation. The chicken and mutton featuring in the food is also from their farm, while dessert (thothal, a Sri Lankan halwa) has been sourced by a lady who sells it for a living in Gummidipundi. Other staples of Sri Lankan Tamil cuisine, like kiribath (dense milk rice) with kaatta sambal (aka lunumiris, made with chilli, salt and lime) and red string hoppers (made with red rice), will also be part of the set menu. On April 27, from 7 pm onwards. Details: 9003100025

    Y Cook
    In the process of changing their name, Y Cook in Besant Nagar serves a selection of Sri Lankan cuisine amid other Indian favourites. “Cutlets, rolls and buns are a few things you will find everywhere in Sri Lanka. And lunch packets are also big there,” says Kumaresh Manick, who started Y Cook with his father, six months ago. Salt fish is also popular and finds its way into many dishes, we’re told. And while you will find just a few items like the string hoppers and sodhis (a coconut milk-based gravy) on their menu, feel free to enquire, as they cater as well, providing lunches featuring red rice sourced from Sri Lanka. We especially like their fish cutlets — deep fried balls of minced Jack Mackerel, potato and some veggies, spiced with pepper and other spices. Meal for two at Rs. 350. Details: 9176484778

    The Park
    While the boutique hotel does not feature Sri Lankan food on the cards, chef Rajesh Radhakrishnan shares that among the live counters on offer for banquets, is a kottu roti counter. It  has roti and egg minced into a chicken curry made with rampa leaves. Banquet packages with live counters from Rs. 1,200 plus tax per head. Details: 42676000

    Park Hyatt
    The Dining Room offers a popular Sri Lankan dessert, vattilappam. “This is like a caramel custard, made with coconut milk instead of regular milk, and also has vanilla essence, cardamom and egg,” says executive sous chef Balaji Natarajan. It is dressed with a jaggery syrup and served warm with a scoop of coconut ice cream. At Rs. 525 plus tax. Details: 71771234

    The Sweet Art
    You can stock up on Sri Lankan snacks at The Sweet Art, a cafe in Vadapalini. Sri Lankan Tamils, Yalini Swaminathan and her sister Sujani Nagarajah, have snacks like fish cutlets (tuna), and prawn patties, in addition to caramel pudding, biscuit pudding, milk and pol toffees. And available on order are Sri Lankan buns like the malu bun (fish) and the sweet and spicy seeni sambal bun. There’s also a Sri Lankan rich cake and single origin Dilmah tea to boot. The snacks are priced between Rs. 25 and Rs. 80 onwards. Details: 9677282600

    -Ryan Peppin

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