Inspired by interviewing Jon Lewin about his Sri Lankan food-focussed The Locals Cookbook – click here ICYMI – I took at look at a few more ways that fans of the cuisine can cure their cravings. From books to secret supperclubs and street eats in London to a gourmet tour of the Indian Ocean island, prepare to embark upon a thoroughly edible adventure…
READ IT AND EAT ‘Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka’ by Bree Hutchins
Having fallen hard for both Sri Lankan food and the country where it originated, food and travel writer Bree Hutchins offers another ‘outsider’ perspective on cuisine and culture. This beaut book is the result of a year-long comprehensive culinary tour: recipes offer insights into everything from day-to-day dining to the fanciest of festive feasts.
- ‘Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka’ by Bree Hutchins is published by Murdoch, RRP £20. For more information and to order, click here
WATCH & LEARN Peter Kuruvita’s ‘My Sri Lanka’
With his Serendip cookbook, Peter penned an affectionate ode to his fatherland. Again using food as the focus, his television series delves even deeper into Sri Lanka – from mountain to seashore, jungle to home. Over 10 instalments, your host roves the country’s regions; meeting, eating, and thoroughly enjoying the whole experience. Peter’s a warm guide and a great chef – I defy you not be itching to get in the kitchen by an episode’s end.
- Peter Kuruvita’s ‘My Sri Lanka’ is available to watch online by clicking here
POP TO A POP-UP: Conflict Café
Founded by charity International Alert, this pop-up diner explores how food can be used to build bridges between conflicting cultures, with the ultimate aim of achieving global peace. A short series of Sri Lankan feasts at Waterloo’s House of Vans celebrates the cuisine of the country where the charity’s work began three decades ago. Communal tables and chat about current cultural issues means there’ll be plenty of food for thought dished up alongside mouthwatering menus.
- Conflict Café Sri Lanka is open for dinner from 29 September – 1 October, and serves a brunch special on 2 October. For more information and to book tickets, click here
TRY A TOP-RATED RESTAURANT Hoppers
Founded by the Sethi siblings, styled on a snack shack, and notorious for commanding queues, Hoppers has been hugely successful in bringing a slice of Sri Lanka to Soho. Don’t just stick to the eponymous bowl-shaped pancakes – sample short eats and treats like Ceylonese spit roasted chicken with gotukola sambol.
- Hoppers, 49 Frith St, London W1D 4SG. For more information, click here
SAMPLE A SUPPERCLUB Virundhu
A little more intimate and under-the-radar than many supperclubs, Virundhu is held sporadically in a Docklands home, with events often occurring around traditional festivals. To stay in the loop about the authentic banquets cooked up by the half-Tamil, half-Malayalee chef, keep a keen eye on Virundhu’s social feeds and DM for an invite. Your stomach will thank you!
EAT THE STREETS Weligama
You know that film White Men Can’t Jump? Well, if someone were to make a movie of Emily Dobbs’s culinary career, they’d be entitled to title it White Girls Can Hop(per) – because the ex-Dock-Kitchen-Ducksoup-Petersham-Nurseries-and-Spring chef is a passed master when it comes to the pancake-like Sri Lankan snacks. You’ll most frequently find this wizard whizzing up her hoppers at Druid Street Market; always using Clarence Court eggs, seasonal (and oft-organic) British produce, and a signature red rice-based batter.
EAT THE STREETS Kothu Kothu
Dhariny Sivajee’s street food stall brings a raucous rhythm to KERB Camden and it’s music to the ears of anyone with a rumbling stomach and an appetite for the exotic. This company’s repetitive moniker means ‘chop chop’, named for the noise of steel blades slicing’n’dicing a combo of flatbread, egg and veggies on a hotplate. The mixture is combined with curry and coconut into the famous kothu roti: a hash supposedly from Sri Lanka, but which could just as easily hail from heaven.
HAVE A HOME-STYLE FEAST Try My Kitchen Sri Lankan cuisine
A good one for eight mates with great big appetites, in which Prakash Nathan welcomes you to his long table in West Hampstead for a full-on feast: Ceylonese chicken curry, tuna cutlets, spicy sides, all kinds of condiments, and, for those with room remaining and a sweet tooth in need of sating, wattilappam – a coconut-and-jaggery pudding perhaps best described as Sri Lanka’s answer to creme caramel.
- Try My Kitchen’s Sri Lankan meal costs £29pp. For more information and to book, click here
TAKE A TRIP Rickshaw Travel – Feel at Home in the Curry Kitchen in Sri Lanka
Planning a holiday? How about a three-day homestay just outside Kandy, during which a local family will reveal the secrets of Sri Lankan cuisine, taking you to the market then into the kitchen to rustle up something splendid with the produce you’ve picked up.
- Rickshaw Travel’s ‘Feel at Home in the Curry Kitchen’ costs from £255pp. For more information and to book, click here
- To read about Jon Lewin and ‘The Locals’ Cookbook’, click here
- To read more about Hoppers, click here
- To read about more inspiring South Asian cookbooks, click here
- For chef Neil Rankin’s hopper recipe, click here