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About a 150 km from Colombo, Mirissa is a very small town, on the southern coast. But from its habour, one can for a goodly fee (Rs. 6000/=) sign up for a boat ride of several hours, to the deep waters some 15 miles out and with luck, see both the blue whale, the largest animal on earth, and the dolphin, bottle nosed and other variates, who are of course, cuter than cute. And so we went, stayed at the Giragalla Inn, which overlooks the lovely Giragalla (Parrot Rock), and woke up early, took the boat at 7, were very lucky with our sightings!
(Dolphin breaks the water -- above -- Whale dives, below)
Then, hungry after the long ride, which took 5 hours, and having postponed breakfast fearing seasickness (we had all dosed up on avomine), we fell upon a simple, classic 'rice curry' lunch at the old and famous Weligama Bay Rest house.
the most interesting dish, a karavila curry, which I'd never had before, wasn't the most popular, since true to its name (bitter gourd), it remained bitter :). Still since I've been fixing Karavila salads, I tried quite a bit of it. It wasn't very good; perhaps more lime would have helped, with more initial de-bitterizing!?
Kichari is an Indian way making rice and dhal (lentils) together; its considered very basic, some times eaten like a porridge in the mornings, or through out the day, as a nourishing but inexpensive snack.
I tried a variation the other day, keeping of course with the basic idea, but changing the seasonings around so that its a fusion of difference. It worked, for me at least.
To make this, first boil the equal potions of rice and mysoor dhal (the bright orange kind is what I mean), until soft. This is easy to do, and quick in a microwave. In mine, with a covered micro-proof dish I have, it takes 20 mins or less. I use three times of water, as the rice dhal compound.
Then I sauteed the rice dhal mixture in shallots, garlic and olive oil, adding salt gradually and when it was well mixed and simmering, added the fresh sliced red tomatoes. Yes, it was pretty good!
I’ve been trying to fuse risotto with kiribath. A risotto is typically rice, cooked in butter or olive oil, and then boiled in a flavorful stock. But there are variations, where milk is used instead of broth. Let's stay with that thought. Kiribath, on the other hand, is rice cooked in coconut milk, and some times infused with spices and jaggery for thai pongal. That's a sweet infusion; I want, yes, kata-dana. Now I haven't got these dishes married yet -- I'm still playing with kiribath and I've been thinking of a two stage, savory kiribath over the past weeks -- I’ve done a green chili one, and today I tried a red chili one.
To make this, you take a cup of cooked basmati rice, a cup of thick coconut milk (1/3 cup of power to 2/3 cup of hot water), and boil it down in a heavy bottomed pan. When its really thick but before it begins to stick to the bottom, add two tablespoons of your favorite chili sauce – (I tried it today with one called thai heritage), a teaspoon of sugar and pinch of salt, and stir it all nicely. Its red chili rice. Your done! Its got a very milky texture of course, and smooth, soothing, soft taste to begin with, before the sharp heat kicks in. I had to force my self to stop, take the photographs, before I finished the whole cup. Then I had bottle of soda; it was that hot! But good.
I had the most simple lunch on Sunday. I beat two eggs, and added some of the left over basting sauce from the red cooked chicken I had made twice, in the preceding week. Now this is a rich mixture of soy sauce, some kitualtreacle, and of course light chicken stock, since the red cooked chicken, has cooked in it. Ha! Then a little Thai red chili sauce, which comes in the squeeze bottle, a quick fold over in the skillet. I topped it with scalded Chinesecabbage, and more hot sauce. I was happy.
bandakka theldala, vatakolu suddata & pipingna takkali salada -- (some things thing i had for lunch today, with rice). and no, i didn't cook any of this -- chandra, the kind person who visits and cooks, did :)
Pradeep Jeganathan was born and raised in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he lives and works. He began to cook when he discovered, as an undergraduate in the US, that MacDonald's was terrible. He continued, when he realized that girls like a guy who knows to cook. After he took up photography as a hobby, he got into shooting food. He has eaten a lot of cold meals since, but he hasn't stopped, because taking a photograph, helps him remember what he's eaten. (He eats a lot, and some times, he forgets). His food photos have been published in a variety of international and Sri Lankan print magazines and web sites and his food photo/recipe columns have appeared Zero77 & Spectrum ("Achcharu") and will soon appear in Ink. He's been a featured chef on ETV's The Home Gourmet, his cooking and food photos have been the subject of a feature article in Sri Lanka's Sunday Times; his food blog has also been featured in Femina.in -- the Indian women's magazine.