Sun, Sea & Spice Sensation!

My adventures in Sri Lanka, May 2016

Sri Lankan food is like a mixture of Indian and Thai with lots of coconut milk and plenty of spice and I want to share the wonderful taste sensations.  See my Dinner Party Menu  or make it yourself - buy Chicken Spice Kit here or if you would prefer check out this rich Pork Curry.

Sri Lanka has been on my bucket list and this year I got an opportunity to visit with my friend Sharon. I wasn’t disappointed. Choosing how to spend two weeks in this tiny island with so much to see was a challenge, but an enjoyable one.

Finally, we decided on Negombo, Kandy, Mirissa and Colombo. After a dramatic start (amounting to missed planes and lost luggage) we enjoyed a fabulous couple of days in Negombo at the lovely Reef Hotel. Our room was amazing with views over the sea and a gorgeous infinity pool. The bar was also beautiful to sit at and quench our thirst from the hot sun.

The restaurant was equally as picturesque and we got a little taste of food heaven while we were there. Barramundi fish curry, prawn curry served with dahl, green beans and lots of wonderful accompaniments graced our plates and then our stomachs. I asked the chef could we have a special Sri Lankan experience and he came up trumps. Absolutely DIVINE.

Our next stop on the road was to Kandy. Our journey was not as sweet as the name might suggest! Nobody told us that women don’t really drive around Sri Lanka and once we got on the road we could understand why!

Oh the chaos, noise and dangerous driving were like nothing I have ever experienced! No rules, no road signs or markings and a free for all.  After lots of frustration we arrived in Kandy and got a tuk tuk to take us to our hotel which was high up in the hills – The Richmond Hill Hotel. Again, a very lovely warm welcome and a huge room awaited us. Here the British colonial influence was very much in evidence – we had incredible views over the lush forests. Truly spectacular.

After some sightseeing around Kandy, we had a very special euphoric day out in Matala at Euphoria Spice & Herbal Farm.

 Situated about one and a half hours from Kandy, this spice garden was just gorgeous. We got such a warm welcome from Ruwandi and Pradipa. We started with a cookery class with Ruwandi and we cooked a gorgeous lunch. Chicken, pumpkin curry, eggplant salad, dahl and coconut sambol. Lots of new tastes, which were a delight to experience.

 The instructions were easy to follow and we got to do everything ourselves also from shredding the coconut (not as easy as it looks!); to slicing the veges and chicken; to cooking and checking until it was cooked. Of course we then had a feast of a lunch (took some photos but they don't do the food justice at all!). We were provided with some extra salads and a fab tomato curry. A printout of recipes was handed out. All in all we had great fun and 1:1 attention. Best of all we learned about the crucial flavours and spices of Sri Lankan cooking.

 The smells were incredible and I just wish I could capture them. The cinnamon was so tasty. It's soft and flaky and tastes a little sweet and no comparison to the Caccia bark cinnamon I've been eating all my life.

 After lunch, Pradipa provided us with a tour of the spice garden. Wow - his knowledge and passion were contagious. He is trained in Ayurveda and told us all about the health benefits of the spices and also how they were used in cooking. We got to taste and experience each spice. Just wonderful.

 Finally, we were given a complimentary massage.

 Lovely shop with their own products. You can't get much fresher or more organic than that!

The fantastic owner and staff made it a day to remember. Definitely the highlight of my holiday in Sri Lanka.

Then it was time for the beach!

We headed off to Mirissa with all the challenges of getting to the motorway with no street names, no GPS, and a very poor map. That was my dilemma as I was navigator and Sharon had to deal with the tooting and craziness that is driving in Sri Lanka. 5 hours later we got there to a beautiful house called Chacha Villa. We spent a glorious 5 days with the car parked for the entire time.

What a lovely place Mirissa is. There’s the ‘strip’ on the beach where the restaurants all sell fresh fish dishes – we had some gorgeous meals there.

We had lots of adventures whilst in Mirissa – we spent a full day at sea and saw lots of dolphins and a massive 22m blue whale.

We spent another day on Safari which was spectacular also. We could see where the sea was now visible, where once it wasn’t prior to tsunami.

There was gorgeous seafood that I really enjoyed but my favourite was to try string hoppers that I’d heard so much about. String Hoppers are a Sri Lankan breakfast of brown rice flour string "cakes" with sides of spicy dahl and coconut sambol — so delicious. Of course everything is even nicer when sitting at the beach.

And now it was time for Colombo. Off we set and after a few wrong turns finally got to our hotel right in Colombo 7.

Colombo was busy-busy and we really enjoyed the sites there.

There was gorgeous food everywhere – for two weeks I indulged in a beautiful plate of fruit every morning. Nothing I say could properly describe how fabulous the papayas are. Succulent, juicy, tasty and so abundant when in season. Fruit heaven!

I ate blackened pork with all the trimmings in banana leaves which was a winner for me – absolutely gorgeous. From the Gallery Café.

We also had some delicious food at the hotel. I had an incredible taste sensation with Seeni Sambol which is a sweet onion relish. I had it on a plain omelette and it was just delicious.  A Sri Lankan feast of meat & three veg! All very different flavours which were warming and yum.  The adventure is over and now I am left with memories and the massive desire and inspiration to create lots of Sri Lankan dishes.