1. ENJOY the Pickle!
Pickling, the process of preserving food by either anaerobic fermentation in brine or immersion in vinegar, has a long tradition in Sri Lanka. Originally invented thousands of years ago as a means to increase the life span of fruits and meat, the technique of pickling has evolved into a culinary art that is nowadays appreciated for its particular taste properties as well as new found health benefits.
Sour, sweet or spicy – Sri Lankan pickles are as diverse and colourful as its people (but definitely not as healthy as their Western counterparts)! Be it a Sinhala Pickle made from carrots, onions, and ground dates mixed with mustard, pepper, ginger, garlic and vinegar, a Tamil spicy oorukai with mango, lemon or tamarind in a thick gravy of salt, chillies, spices, and vegetable oils, or a traditional Malay pickle typically made out of cucumber, carrot, bird’s eye chillies and shallots seasoned with vinegar, sugar and salt – Sri Lankan pickles add an exciting extra flavour to any rice and curry dish.
Etymologically the word ‘pickle’ derives from ‘pekel’, the Dutch term for brine.
No wonder, with a long history of trading and seafaring, the Dutch had to come up with a way to conserve their food for their long journeys across the oceans. Thus, a Burgher pickle cannot be missed in this little collection. We love a good lime pickle – sour and sweet – a combination that you can hardly go wrong with and whether you like it chopped with onion and sweet sticky sauce or whole limes preserved is judgement call.
Like the best in this nation, Sri Lankan pickles are diverse and not discriminatory.
2. EAT Local Super Fruits
Super Fruits – a lot of debate is going on regarding the question of what actually classifies a fruit as ‘Super’ and sets it apart from the bulk of “average” fruits of lesser nutritional value. The definition is somewhat unnecessary, since almost every fruit offers certain health benefits. Most nutritionists agree however, that there are some fruits that are higher in concentration of vitamins, antioxidants (that help to remove oxidizing agents or free radicals that can damage body cells), fibers and minerals than most of the other fruits. It is believed that certain Super Fruits regularly consumed. makes you live longer, look better and overall healthier and can even help to prevent some diseases.
Overseas, the designation ‘Super Fruit’ is also used as a marketing term to promote the consumption of more exotic and thus more expensive fruits. Luckily, Sri Lanka is one of these tropical countries with an abundance of so-called Super Fruits that can be bought at almost every grocery shop and roadside stall. Thambili or king coconut, avocado, pineapple and watermelon are amongst the more popular, but there is much more to discover in the local fruit bowl. Super or not, the island offers a diverse range of delicious and healthy fruits that you should not miss out on.
The king of ‘Super Fruits’. It contains higher levels of antioxidants than green tea or red wine and the seeds provide an excellent source of dietary fiber. Research suggests that it might even help to fight Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Not only does this fruit contain significant amounts of vitamin C and vitamin B1 and B2, it is also considered to be a real medical all-rounder. In traditional medicine it has been used to treat a variety of diseases such as arthritis pain, joint inflammation and several skin diseases. Laboratory researches suggest that Soursop extract might slow the growth of cancer cells or make them more susceptible to anti-cancer drugs, but research on humans is still pending.
Bursting with antioxidants and containing a high amount of dietary fiber, the mangosteen is considered to be one of the most powerful immune system supportive herbal substances in South East Asia. In traditional medicine it is used to treat skin infections, inflammations, dysentery and urinary tract infections.
Jackfruit is rich in nutrients and minerals. It contains high levels of vitamin B6 and helps support everything from the immune system to the digestive tract. Jackfruit is mainly considered to be a Super Fruit because of its massive size (weighing 10 to 15 pounds on average) and the undemanding nature of the plant in terms of cultivation. It’s a healthier carbohydrate source than rice or corn and most tasty in Sri Lankan Kos Curry! These days, trends and reviewers are suggesting jackfruit as an alternate substitute for meat, although lower in protein, the taste and nutrition works hand in hand. This makes us think of widening the scope Jeewa’s Polos Burger (see cover story)!
3. EXPERIENCE Cold Drip Coffee
For coffee lovers in this tropical country nothing beats a refreshing glass of iced coffee to cope with the blazing heat under the remorseless Sri Lankan sun. A typical iced coffee is easily made, you just need to put the brewed coffee in the fridge to cool it down and add ice to it, but have you ever had a Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brewed and especially cold drip coffees (a particular way of preparing a cold brew) are the latest trend in the US, Canada and Japan and more recently a few Sri Lankan cafés and bars have jumped on the bandwagon and started to sell the trendy beverage.
In contrast to a standard cup of coffee, the water is not heated in the brewing process, even though you can drink it hot or cold. The mechanism of a cold drip device is pretty much similar to a filter coffee machine. The (room temperature) water falls drop by drop from an upper chamber into ground coffee (held in the middle container) and slowly filters/drips down into the bottom container. The difference lies in the pace with which the water drips through the coffee powder – it takes between 8 and 12 hours to obtain a litre of concentrated coffee elixir.
A long time to wait for a cup of coffee, you may think. But the result is definitely worth it. The low water temperature leads to a coffee concentrate that contains much less acids and bitter substances and is thus much easier on the stomach with a very pleasing creaminess and a light body that is aromatic and fruity in taste. The finished brew is almost twice as “strong” as a normal hot-brewed drip coffee and can be stretched with ice or water according to your taste.
In Colombo you can find the cold drip at Café Whight & Co among other places. If you make it to Arugam Bay this summer, we highly recommend the cold drip at Hideaway Blue Café, as their special brew with coconut water is a real treat on the taste buds.