“The best things in life are the people we meet, the places we’ve been and the memories we’ve left along the way.”
There had to come a time when I would have to….. just have to write about Sri Lanka.
3 glorious years in Sri Lanka……and other than back home in Bandra, Mumbai……..a tiny bit of my heart rests there.
I loved everything about Sri Lanka….but the joie de vivre of it’s people reminded me so much of Bandra.
Like Bandraites, people here know how to enjoy life. Laughter and smiles flow easily as do graciousness and generosity.
Whoo hoo…..little shops selling ‘short eats’ all through the day…..cutlets, rolls, stuffed buns, puffs, patties, tarts and pastries.
My all time favorites were Fab and Green Cabin.
Again, all these reminded me of all our little ‘snack bars’ in Bandra.
Lovecake, Bruedher, Milk toffee, hoppers, idi-oppers, kiri-baath and so many more all have to be written about in detail…..but none more so than the Dutch Lamprais.
My link back to Colombo and the ‘Lamprais’ is thanks to my friend Shankari, who carts a load of them for me back form Colombo every year. The kids and myself wait eagerly, relishing every last grain of rice on the banana leaf.
Lamprais are something you either love or hate.
My hubby hates them……but all the more for us, we say.
They are available all over Colombo, made by Burgher ‘Aunties’ who specialize in this. Everyone has their own favorite and mine was a beautiful lady called Jean just off Nawala Road and Lorraine who sells them at the Dutch Burgher Union.
The kids and I just LOOOOVE it !
So what are these LAMPRAIS I keep raving about.
Lamprais are made up of :
- Short grained rice such as ‘Suduru Samba’ that has been cooked in a meat/chicken stock
- Lamprais Curry which is a piquant gravy of diced meat, ideally boneless
- Brinjal Pahi, a sweet n spicy fried brinjal preparation
- Frikkadels, a crumb fried meatball of meat or chicken
- Blachang, a finely grownd dried prawn ball flavoured with lime juice and chilly.
- Seeni Sambol, made with fried onions, sugar and chilly.
- Sometimes, Fried Ash Plaintain
All these are carefully arranged in a Banana leaf, wrapped into a packet and steamed.
The flavours all merge beautifully and a wonderful complex aroma hits you as you unwrap the leaf, causing your tummy to rumble in anticipation of this gastronomic delight!
Normally one would serve a boiled egg along with it.
According to my Burgher friend Annie, the Dutch Lamprais packets are small, as compared to the Sinhalese lamprais which are more like a lunch packet containing an enormous quantity of rice. I won’t waste my time on these.
A true Dutch Lamprais would not contain an egg within the packet nor would the meat be bone-in……so I was informed.
Whatever the case, Lamprais have me hooked for life. It was something I just had to carry back for family and friends every time we came to India on holiday.
The Legend of Lamprais
“The Golden Age of Dutch exploration and colonialism in the 16th and 17th Centuries saw traders and armies of the Dutch East India Co. sail East from Holland with the Trade Winds, around the Cape of Good Hope and onto the East Indies in their quest for spices and riches. When the winds changed and favoured their return, the journey back home was most often by way of what was then called Zeylan. Their travels uncovered untold treasures and firmly rooted many traditions in most of the countries in which they settled. Possibly their greatest find for gastronomes would be the then humble lomprijst . Discovered in Java, the locals ate the small packets of rice wrapped in a banana leaf holding it in the palm of their hand. Typically, this would consist of a few leftover curries and condiments from the previous meal thrown together with a handful of rice and wrapped in the ubiquitous leaf. It was essentially a working man`s nourishment, carried on his person ready to be eaten whenever time allowed. The Dutch explorers knowing a good thing when they saw one and being good eaters in their own right, took the concept and refined it, adding a few touches of their own to produce what is now the elusive lamprais. Lamprais is an Anglicisation of the original Dutch term lomprijst , the origins of which are unclear, but could stem from either the Malay word klemper, which refers to a ball of lutinous rice wrapped in a banana leaf, or the Dutch words klomp, which means lump and rijst which means rice. Terminology notwithstanding, the contents of the lamprais is a highly debated topic amongst veterans of the chase. “
So if you ever visit Sri Lanka….try this, it is such an explosion on your taste buds!
A Sunday afternoon favorite……but I won’t complain if its served during the week either!
I’d love to go back and live there just for this!!!