On the way we stopped at a roadside stall to buy red bananas, something I’d never seen before! They were small, soft and sweet with a similar flavour to papaya. Our guide said red banana are thought to be good for the sex drive so I’m guessing it’s a popular fruit for those in the know. Yikes, who needs viagra when nature can do the trick!
At dinner in a restaurant filled with locals, we ordered hoppers, kotthu roti and Sri Lanka’s favourite soda elephant ginger beer or EGB.
Popular street food dish kotthu roti, which translates to ‘chopped roti’ in Tamil, originated in the 70s from local Muslims and Tamils. Roti – a simple flatbread made with flour and water – and fresh vegetables are stir fried with spices and cooked in the middle of a flat BBQ hotplate. With a cleaver in each hand, the cook quickly shreds and dices the ingredients while the metal makes loud clanging sounds, hence the nickname ‘chop chop’. This turned out to be one of my favourite dishes and I had it several times throughout the trip, enjoying the variation in flavours in the different parts of Sri Lanka we visited.
Before we took a stroll around Dambulla’s main produce market (I’ll share that in another post), due the timing of our stay we got to check out the smaller weekly market, held every Wednesday, that offers a mix of food, fabric and clothing, tools, kitchen utensils, sweets and fresh food. I was particularly impressed by a beautiful stall display and it was great to smell and touch all the different spices in their raw form.
After a drive out of the city and a walk through the rice fields, we were welcomed to a modest hut and treehouse for lunch with local rice farmers.
The farming community – chena – is an ancient agricultural system practiced in Sri Lanka which and this is popular in the dry zone of the country where it rains only a few months of the year. Crops mostly consist of tropical vegetables, cereals, grains, yams and corn.
Outside the hut a clay pot cooked up the rice and hot water and inside the curries were made. We drank from freshly cut king coconuts and ate rice and curries with ochre, potatoes and eggplant, a spicy coconut sambal and semi-sweet millet flour dessert followed by a refreshing hot black tea with fresh cinnamon.
Up next: I climb Sri Lanka’s massive lion rock, visit old temples in caves and check out Dambulla’s busy produce market.
For more on this visit, click on the photo below to see the Flickr album.
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