Authentic Sri Lankan cuisine makes its way to the Chennaiite dining table through this cloud kitchen

Chennai:

When Basilica, 39, moved from Mannar, Sri Lanka to India in 1990, she had no idea how her life would turn out. Thirty-one years later, she oversees the preparation of authentic Sri Lankan cuisine at a small cloud kitchen called Yalpanam by Serendip.

The food is prepared by Sri Lankan refugee women in a pop-up cloud kitchen in the city, which is run by the social enterprise Serendip Boutique, founded by filmmaker and social activist Poongkothai Chandrahasan, to empower vulnerable women.

In a conversation with DT Next, Basilica and Poongkothai talk about the specialty of Sri Lankan cuisine, cooking style and cloud cooking.

“We use coconut oil and coconut milk in most of our dishes. The preparation and ingredients of the dishes vary by region of Sri Lanka – there are small differences in cooking styles in the Sinhala and Tamil provinces and there are different specialties in each province, ”the conversation begins.

She adds that in many homes in her province (Mannar), breakfast was a pazhaya soru with an accompaniment. “Red rice puttu and idiyappam are also regular breakfast dishes. We prepare pol sambol – a dish made from coconut, as an accompaniment to hoppers and puttu. Lunch mainly consists of fish curry, vegetables and rice. When we buy fish, we prepare three types of dishes with it: sothi fish, kuzhambu and fry. Fish sothi is a slightly spicy fish curry where the fish is cooked in a sauce made from coconut milk. For dinner, we opt for either cooked dishes or rotis. One of the traditional dinner dishes is coconut roti (pol roti) – it’s made with maida and coconut. This coconut flavored flatbread can be eaten with seedi sambol. It’s a caramelized onion chutney, ”recalls Basilica.

Like many other styles of cooking, Sri Lankan cuisine takes a lot of work. “We always use freshly prepared spices for cooking. Fennel seeds are an important spice in Sri Lankan preparation. One of the most famous dishes in Sri Lankan Tamil province of Yalpanam (Jaffna) is Jaffna kool. It is a combination of seafood and tastes like a spicy seafood soup.

When it came to a discussion of desserts, Poongkothai recalls, “We have a popular candy called Laveria. These are rice flour hoppers with pani or coconut molasses and spicy desiccated coconut with cinnamon stuffing. A popular Sinhala dessert is watalappan which resembles coconut cream. The Sri Lankans also make milk caramels, which are very popular with children. ”

Speaking about the creation of Serendip’s Yalpanam Cloud Kitchen, the filmmaker tells us, “Due to the pandemic, many Tamil refugee women and their husbands have lost their livelihoods. When we discussed how to fundraise, the idea of ​​a cloud kitchen arose. So far we’ve done two set menus on weekends. We’re taking orders for October 30th and 31st.

For the next pop-up kitchen, the team has already prepared a set menu. Two vegetarian menus include dishes like sigappu arisi idiyappam, parippu kiri hodhi (coconut milk stew cooked with lentils), pol sambol, makaral pirattal (green beans in dry curry), bonchi ala kadalai pirattal (beans, potatoes and dry curried chickpeas), sigappu arisi kuzha puttu and payatham paniyaram (made with moong dal, coconut, jaggery and spices).

Orders can be placed on 98400 56530.

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