General description: Sri Lankan cuisine is vastly underrated: its larger neighbors usually steal the stage when it comes to cooking. Many visitors to the island come with few expectations and leave pleasantly surprised. Rice and curry – Sri Lanka’s most iconic dish – is simplified in language but highly complex in execution. The ‘Curry’ that accompanies rice in Sri Lanka is actually an array of dishes made up of different vegetables that might be sauteed in spices, boiled in coconut milk, tempered, deep fried, caramelized, and even served raw with grated coconut. The ingredients themselves may also be things you are unfamiliar with: lotus root for example, or banana blossom. Take a visit to a local market to see the wide array of tropical fruit and vegetables on offer in Sri Lanka, and then get a hands-on cooking experience in the traditional setting of a wattle and daub mud hut.
Experience description: Starting at the bustling Galle market, you will meet your host chef who will talk you through the core ingredients of Sri Lankan cuisine such as curry leaves, coconuts, local fruit and veg, pandan leaves and spices. Leaving the market, you will travel as many local fisherman do – by boat along the Kapu Ela river to a small rural village located on the banks of the river itself. The cooking class itself is just a short distance from the river and can be reached by either bicycle or tuk tuk, depending on your preference. When you arrive you will be greeted with cold towels and a welcome drink and you can make yourself at home inside a rustic wattle and daub mud hut. Here you will learn how to prepare and cook your favourite Sri Lankan dishes such as brinjal pahi (deep fried and caramelized aubergine), pol sambola (coconut and chili sambol) , gotukola sambola (Indian pennywart salad) , parippu (lentil dhal), andratu alla hodi (beetroot curry). You will also discover how coconut milk is made, learn to crack open and scrape out your own coconut, and taste samples of each dish as you go along. The end product is a feast of eight unique dishes served in a lotus leaf which you can eat local-style with your fingers if you are up for the challenge.
Includes: water, welcome drink, lunch, cooking class, boat ride, cycling, and market visit
Duration: 5-6 hours
Difficulty: easy – if anyone in your group finds cycling too hard they can opt for a tuk tuk ride instead
Suitable for children: yes, children will very much enjoy both the setting and the activities
What to wear or bring along: cool clothing that can get a bit dirty – aprons are not included in the cooking class.
Important to know: The chef is an expert on Sri Lankan cooking but his English skills are a little more basic. He can converse easily but extremely complex questions might need to be phased in more simple terms. A little patience and understanding will go a long way.
Private or not? This experience is always private