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A special Sri Lankan breakfast

"AYUBOWAN" on Aluth Avuruddhe day! Or greetings on the New Year's Day.


Sri Lanka has been ascribed many names such as paradise isle, taprobane, pearl, and Serendip. With tropical beaches fringed by slender coconut palms, the hill country and cooler climes, the island is famous for its spices, "Ceylon" tea, fresh fruit and vegetables. Besides, eternally celebrating their joie de vivre with lilting baila songs. Most of all, our neighbour in the Indian Ocean presents an interesting cuisine quite similar to some South Indian dishes.

And "Aluth Avuruddhe" in Sri Lanka is an important day. The Sinhalese and Tamils celebrate their new year on April 14. The day begins with visits to temples, lighting of oil lamps, sporting new clothes and, of course, serving a specially prepared breakfast.

For the cooks with abundant zeal among you who want to join in the new year celebration and try out some thing different, here are some recipes given below for a modest Sri Lankan breakfast.

Traditionally, rice is cooked in a clay pot. Red rice and boiled rice are very popular.

Chutties or earthen pots are still used adding that special flavour to the curries. Remember, authentic Sri Lankan cuisine has coconut, the sine qua non of it all and each day is heralded with the sharp crack of the coconut at dawn. The aromatic curries are "devilled" with the island's spices and chillies leaving sweating brows and palates craving for more. Sea food is an integral part of the local diet with the coast as the cache providing the succulent catch.


Let's start auspiciously with the traditional dish on Aluth Avuruddhe! A must on new year's day, the kiribath or rice cooked in milk symbolises a bountiful year ahead.

Kiribath served with plantains

  • Ingredients:
    Thick coconut milk (480ml) 2 cups
    Rice (400 g, regular white rice or red rice 2 cups
    Water (720 ml) 3 cups
    A pinch of salt

  • Method:

    In a pan, put together the washed rice, the water, salt and cover with a lid. When the rice is well cooked and the water is absorbed, stir in the coconut milk. Let it simmer until the milk is absorbed and the rice is very soft and creamy. Cool slightly and turn out onto a shallow sided dish. Smoothen the sides and top to an inch thickness. When cold, cut the kiribath into diamond shapes.

    Serve with plantains.

    Serves: 4

    * * *

    String hoppers, Hoddha and Pol sambol (Iddiappam)

  • Ingredients:

    Rice flour, dry roasted and sieved (400 g) 2 cups
    Water, boiling hot, as required for mixing the dough
    A little oil for kneading
    Salt to taste

  • Method:

    To the flour, add the boiling water in small quantities and knead to a soft dough. Divide dough into small balls and keep aside. Lightly grease the iddiappam press and put one portion of the dough. Press out dough to form circular mounds (resembling thin rice noodles) onto each of the iddiappam moulds (an idli stand with moulds can be used). Steam for about 10 minutes till the iddiappam is cooked (a pressure cooker can be used without the weight).

    Serve with hoddha and pol sambol.

    Serves: 4

    * * *

    Hoddha (Coconut milk curry)

  • Ingredients:

    Potatoes and tomatoes julienne 2 each
    Small onions (sambar onions) finely sliced 2
    Fenugreek seeds (methi) 1 tsp
    Green chillies slit 5
    A sprig of curry leaves
    Half a lime
    Turmeric powder tsp
    Coconut milk 2 cups first extract (480 ml)
    Coconut milk 3 cups second extract (720 ml)
    Cinnamon (an inch) one piece
    Salt to taste

  • Method:

    In a thick bottomed pan put in all ingredients except the first extract of coconut milk, tomatoes and salt. Cook over low flame till the potatoes are well cooked. Add the first extract coconut milk, tomatoes, salt and simmer to a gentle boil (use low flame to avoid curdling the milk). Squeeze in lime after removing the hoddha from the stove.

    Serves: 4

    * * *

    Pol sambol (Spiced coconut)

  • Ingredients:

    Half a coconut freshly grated
    Small onions (sambar onions) finely chopped 2
    Coarsely powdered pepper tsp
    Green chillies finely chopped 2
    Chilli powder tsp
    Lime 1
    Salt to taste

  • Ingredients:

    Blend well using your fingers, the chillies, pepper, onions and chilli powder. Toss in the scraped coconut or pol. Squeeze lime and salt to taste.

    Serves: 4

    * * *

    Roti and Seeni sambol (Hand made unleavened bread)

  • Ingredients:

    Maida (400 g) 2 cups
    Scraped coconut 2 tbsps
    One small onion (sambar onion) finely chopped
    One green chilli finely chopped
    Coconut oil for cooking
    Sufficient water to knead into a firm dough

    To make 1 cup coconut milk:

    Freshly grated coconut 1 cup
    Slightly warm water 1 cups

    To the scraped coconut, add the warm water and grind it in the mixie. Then strain. Your first extract or thick coconut milk is ready. For the second extract, add two more cups of warm water to the residue coconut and wet grind again. Strain for the second extract.
    Salt to taste

  • Method:

    To the flour, add the onion, chilli, coconut, salt and enough water to form a firm dough and set aside for 15 minutes. To make the rotis, divide the dough equally into lime sized balls. On a smooth platform, using your fingers, flatten and spread the dough to form a slightly thick circular shaped roti (about five inches in diameter). A little flour can be dusted to prevent stickiness while making the roti. On a greased flat pan, place the roti and cook on a medium flame. Brush with coconut oil and keep turning the sides till it is well cooked and the insides are soft. Serve hot.

    Serves: 4

    * * *

    Seeni sambol (Sweet and spicy onion chutney)

  • Ingredients:

    Medium sized onions 6 finely chopped
    Ginger paste 1 tsp
    Cloves of garlic crushed 6
    Chilli powder 2 tbsps
    Cinnamon, powdered 2 tsps
    Cardamom, powdered 4
    Sugar 4 tbsps
    Cooking oil 4 tbsps
    A sprig of curry leaves
    Thick coconut milk (240 ml) 1 cup
    Tamarind, lime-sized (extract juice adding cup water)
    Lime 1
    Salt to taste

  • Method:

    Fry in oil, the onion, garlic and ginger till golden brown. Add the rest of the ingredients except lime juice and sugar. Cook on a low flame for about 30 minutes, stirring constantly. When the onions turn dark brown and start coming off the pan add the sugar or seeni and simmer to reach chutney-like consistency. Squeeze in lime juice to the seeni sambol.

    Serves: 4

    LAKSHMI SANKARAN

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