What is any trip to a new destination without tasting its food? And seasoned or even amateur traveler will not dream of returning home sans a taste of the local cuisine. If one is in the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, one gets a taste of some absolutely sumptuous dishes (seafood being a favorite, given that the island is surrounded by the ocean). Make your way to the northern tip of the island- Jaffna, and you will find another array of tastes that will tempt your palate.
Jaffna’s well-kept secret is the spices that are infused into every dish, which results in an aroma that first draws the olfactory senses and then the gustatory. One of the most popular dishes of the peninsula is the Jaffna crab curry. One can choose between lagoon crab and sea crab, but the result is an absolutely mouthwatering experience. Yes, these curries can be quite spicy, so hold on to your glasses of water and then dig in. Of course, don’t forget that you’ll probably need both hands to manipulate the crab shells to get into that juicy flesh, but don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty because, as they say, no pain, no gain!
Then there are the Jaffna hoppers or the ‘appam’. This is an excellent item of food to mop up the crab curry with- you can have it plain or with an egg that sits in its center. It is a sort pancake and since it is made in a hopper pan, it resembles a bowl with the sides curved upwards. The outer layer is a soft crusty texture, while the very center is a bit thicker and tastes somewhat like bread.
Let’s not forget the Rasam that Jaffna is famous for. It is a kind of soup where the key ingredients are black pepper and tamarind. It usually includes tomato and lentils and can even be made as a kind of chicken broth. Eat it as a soup or mix it with rice, either way it’s delicious!
Idli is another dish to try out. It is a savoury cake also eaten in South India. It is made of steamed batter that includes fermented black lentils and rice. This is usually eaten with what is called a ‘saambaar’ curry, which is made of aubergines, pumpkin, carrot and lentils. It is a mixed curry that marries many tastes.
You just cannot leave Jaffna, or Sri Lanka for that matter, without also trying out their divine wadey. There are two kinds- ulundu and parippu wadey. The first is a type of savory doughnut that is deep fried and is crispy. For that extra spicy hit, you should eat it with some ‘katta sambol’ made of onions mixed in chilli and Maldive fish. The second is made of soaked toor dhal and mixed with green chillies, onions and curry leaves and then deep fried. It is crunchy and so delicious!
No doubt your mouth is already watering as you read this, so you better satisfy those taste buds and make your way to Jaffna. This is just a sneak peek at the tastes that you will find in the north of Sri Lanka. There are many more dishes awaiting your approval…..come, try them out at The Thinnai “An All-Suite Boutique Hotel!