Curry Leaf

Sri Lankan cuisine, rather unfairly, has a reputation for being unbearably spicy. There’s never smoke without fire – the island’s food isn’t exactly mild – but the Curry Leaf restaurant in Al Mussalla Tower’s food court is doing its utmost to make this under-appreciated cuisine accessible to everyone, spice-happy or mild-mannered. The Curry Leaf is the little restaurant that could, serving a full range of traditional dishes plus Chinese dishes, British fish and chips, and fusion options that blend curries from the subcontinent with Italian pastas. We recommend you stick to the wonderful Sri Lankan goodness, starting with an appetiser of fish croquettes, packed with zingy mackerel and yellow bell peppers stuffed with vegetables. Then move on to Sri Lanka’s national dish, hoppers – rice flour pancakes with a fried egg in their centre, usually eaten with chilli sambol and for breakfast. Then there’s lumpries, a souvenir from Dutch colonial times. It’s rice baked with boneless chicken, beef or lamb, fish cutlets, boiled egg, aubergine, and a delicious sweet onion sambol (a spicy side dish). You’ll see coconuts everywhere you look in Sri Lanka, and the versatile nut plays a huge role in the nation’s cuisine. A freshly grated sprinkling of it adds a creamy touch to the Curry Leaf’s gotu kola salad – a dish made with a native and nutritious fresh herb, onion, tomato and lime juice. Fish plays a large part in Sri Lanka’s cuisine – try the kiri maalu, kingfish cooked in a lightly-spiced coconut sauce alongside string hoppers (steamed rice flour vermicelli) or steamed rice. Sri Lanka’s favourite dessert, watalappan, is strange but very satisfying; a custardy combo of coconut, jaggery (a type of sugar cane), eggs, milk, cardamom and cinnamon, served with ice cream. The world’s most underrated national cuisine? It certainly gets our vote.

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