Wrapping up Sri Lanka: Unawatuna to Negombo

alternatively titled: It’s All About the Food

The closest thing I had to a guide book in Sri Lanka was one page of a website written by Yulia, a Russian woman who writes in English and is married to a Sri Lankan. The page is called The Ultimate Guide to Sri Lankan Food: 50 Must Try Dishes. When I first arrived in the country, I was sort of using the page as a reference to get some names of dishes and see what I recognize. After a couple weeks in the country, without even trying, I realized I had made it more than half way through Yulia’s list. It was only during my last week in Sri Lanka that I really started making an effort to find dishes on Yulia’s list that I hadn’t tried already.

For example, why bother ordering biryani when it’s a pretty standard rice dish in so many South and Southeast Asian countries? It was on Yulia’s list so I tried it one evening in Aluthgama:

chicken biryani by bryandkeith on flickr

Surprisingly good.

After the biryani dinner Yulia sent me on a fun expedition to track down homemade toffee. Did I find kiri toffee?

kiri toffee (?) by bryandkeith on flickr

On the way back to my hotel from the toffee adventure, I completely randomly came across kadala tel dala (stir-fried chickpeas) — the only time I saw those in two months in Sri Lanka. Wow, they were super tasty. I wished I hadn’t filled up on toffee.

As far as food goes Yulia doesn’t complain much, but she doesn’t like kola kenda:

kola kenda by bryandkeith on flickr

I quite liked it, enough to stop almost every time I saw it. I mentioned kola kenda on this blog before.

Yulia’s other food complaint is that appa (aka hoppers) are served at dinner rather than breakfast. Well, here I found them at a very basic breakfast place:

hoppers are usually for dinner; this is (a basic) breakfast by bryandkeith on flickr

Certainly without Yulia’s help I never would have found lamprais — “rice, vegetables, and meats (chicken in my case), wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked slowly”. I saw the word lamprais written on a sign in Hikkaduwa, and remembering Yulia’s blog I went in. They said to come back in the afternoon. I did and was treated to a tasty lunch.

lamprais by bryandkeith on flickr

Like biryani faluda is common in South and Southeast Asia:

faluda by bryandkeith on flickr

On my last full day in the country I found the jackfruit man at the market in Negombo and bought a kg of jackfruit seeds (kos atta) from him. I attempted my first kos atta curry back here in Antalya. It was tasty, and how often do people eat jackfruit seeds in Turkey??!! Yulia was my main secondary source for the jackfruit information in a previous post.

He is removing the seeds.  I only bought jackfruit seeds (kos atta; 1kg was 150 Rs.). by bryandkeith on flickr
kos atta curry by bryandkeith on flickr

One of my favorite veggies in Sri Lanka was winged beans. I wish I had brought some seeds back to Turkey. I bet they’d grow well here.

winged beans by bryandkeith on flickr

We mustn’t forget Sri Lanka’s national dish, kottu:

egg kottu by bryandkeith on flickr

but my favorites were (of course) the widely-available-at-lunch-and-dinner rice and curry meals:

dhal, garbonzo bean curry, eggplant, carrot curry, kos mellum, kola by bryandkeith on flickr
dhal, garbonzo bean curry, eggplant, carrot curry, kos mellum, kola
clockwise from top left okra curry, potto curry, ??, dhal, pol sambol by bryandkeith on flickr
clockwise from top left okra curry, potto curry, ??, dhal, pol sambol

Sometimes it’s easy for me to forget that Sri Lanka was more than just good food. Between Unawatuna and Negombo I spent a couple nights at the beach town of Hikkaduwa.

IMG_20220112_084809 by bryandkeith on flickr

I did some snorkeling in Hikkaduwa, but perhaps more exciting was seeing the water monitors in the canal on my morning walks.

IMG_20220113_063641 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220114_063732 by bryandkeith on flickr

Even bicycling through the most densely populated part of the country I managed to find some quiet areas.

IMG_20220115_085554 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220115_115307 by bryandkeith on flickr
Brief Garden
IMG_20220115_091730 by bryandkeith on flickr

Of course there were temples (as always):

IMG_20220115_142823 by bryandkeith on flickr
Kande Viharaya Temple
IMG_20220115_141958 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220115_141822 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220115_141811 by bryandkeith on flickr

and as I got closer to Negombo, I started to see more churches again.

St. Anne's Church by bryandkeith on flickr
St. Anne’s Church, Sarikkamulla
St. Joseph Church by bryandkeith on flickr
St. Joseph’s Church, Moratuwa

I passed this mosque:

IMG_20220118_063003 by bryandkeith on flickr

in Poruthota on one of my morning walks from Negombo. It reminded me of Oman, perhaps because everything here felt gritty and sandy. Or perhaps because of the nearby dhows?

IMG_20220117_142659 by bryandkeith on flickr

Negombo Beach is a grim has-been tourist strip. The city (a bit separate from the beach) is good enough for some last day shopping and a covid PCR test before my 32-hour Colombo-Dubai-Istanbul-Antalya airplane fun.

As far as tourist sites in Negombo, the best thing I did was walk along the canal lined with fishermen repairing their nets, drinking coconut arrack, or both.

IMG_20220117_101146 by bryandkeith on flickr

Bye, bye, Sri Lanka.

IMG_20211231_182213 by bryandkeith on flickr
This entry was posted in Bicycle touring, Sri Lanka and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Wrapping up Sri Lanka: Unawatuna to Negombo

  1. Jennifer & Derek Werner says:

    Fantastic! And now I am hungry!

  2. Mike Painter says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip overall, despite the elephant! Now to get some chickpeas cooking here.

    • Bryan Keith says:

      Thanks, Mike. In spite of the elephant, I really did enjoy Sri Lanka. Like you said “great scenery, interesting sites, and good looking food. Who could ask for anything more ?!?” 🙂

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