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Chefs from across the Arc of Flavor–defined by the conference as the swathe of territory spanning Spain in the West and the Spice Islands of Indonesia in the East–shared their cultures and cuisines during various demo sessions and seminars, which varied in size from an audience of 20 to 500. For our small session on Sri Lankan cuisine, Chef Koluu made fish ambul thiyal (sour fish curry), hoppers, and the popular Sri Lankan condiment, pol (coconut) sambol. On the mainstage, we presented Sri Lankan biriyani, which was part of the “One-Pot Meals” seminar. This video presents a sample of some of the other chefs who cooked before the entire conference.

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When Chef Koluu and I discovered that we were to take part in the One Pot Meal seminar to be held on the main stage of the conference, we were a bit puzzled about what to do since there are no one pot dishes in Sri Lanka. So we decided to make biriyani–a dish that does not originate in Sri Lanka, but is none-the-less a huge favorite there.

 

Chef Koluu and myself outside CIA Greystone

A combination of rice, meat and vegetables all cooked together, biriyani can be traced back to the Mughals, a Muslim dynasty that ruled most of the Indian subcontinent from the early 16th to the early 18th century. Direct descendants of Genghis Khan, they are known for their very rich cuisine, embodied by a dish like biriyani, which involves expensive spices like saffron and is often garnished with gold and silver foil. While there are many versions of the dish across the Middle East and India, biriyani was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Muslim community, who make up roughly 7% of the population, and they, too, have their own spin on this popular dish.

 

Signing books at the World’s of Flavor conference

The recipe we used for our demo, however, came from my book, Rice & Curry: Sri Lankan Home Cooking (Hippocrene Books, 2011), and it is actually more like a biriyani that you would find in Pakistan–with the exception of cashews, shredded coconut, and, of course, Sri Lankan roasted curry powder, which is a spice blend like no other. In Sri Lanka, the biriyani is also usually served with several side dishes including cashew curry, pineapple curry, a mint sambol, and mixed pickle. If you ever have the chance to attend a Muslim wedding there, this will be on the menu, along with a lot of other tantalizing treats such as faluda, a sweet drink made of rose water and ice cream, and, of course, the rich, decadent wattalapam or coconut flan for dessert. That is if you have enough room after putting away a dish as dangerously delicious as biriyani!

 

The Recipe

Chicken Buriyani

 

Meat:                                                    Rice:

2 lbs. (1 kg) chicken parts                      1 lb. (500 g) basmati rice

1 tsp. black pepper                                3 tbsp. ghee

1 tsp. curry powder                               1 onion, chopped

1 tsp. cayenne powder or paprika         2  cardamoms

1/4 cup (65 ml) plain yogurt                  2 cloves

1/4 cup (65 ml) tomato puree                 2 bay leaves

2 tbsp. cashews, chopped                      1 inch (2.5 cm) stick cinnamon

2 tbsp. desiccated coconut                      pinch of saffron

1 cardamom                                            1 1/2- 2 cups (375 ml) stock

1 clove                                                    1 1/2 tsp salt

2 bay leaves

2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. ghee

1 onion, chopped

2 Serrano chilies, chopped

 

Meat:

1.)            Wash, cut and dry meat. Season with black pepper, curry powder, and cayenne.

2.)            In a food processor, blend yogurt, tomato puree, cashews, and coconut.

3.)            Combine blended ingredients, cardamom, clove, bay leaves, and salt with chicken and marinate for 30 minutes. (meanwhile skip to rice prep).

4.)            Heat ghee in a pan. Fry onions and chilies until onions are translucent.

5.)            Add chicken pieces and stir-fry for 5-10 minutes.

6.)            Add a little water to blended mixture and pour over chicken. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

7.)            Place chicken pieces in casserole dish.

 

Rice:

8.)            Wash and drain rice.

9.)            Heat ghee in pan. Fry onions until translucent. Add  cardamoms, cloves, bay leaves, and cinnamon.

10.)         Add rice and fry for a few minutes until rice starts to crackle. Add pinch of saffron and mix well.

11.)         Pour over stock and cook until partially done (about 15 minutes). Add salt.

12.)         Place rice on top of chicken in casserole dish. Cover with tin foil and cook in oven until moisture evaporates, about 25-30 minutes at 300 F (150 C).

 

Makes 6 servings

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I recently had the pleasure of visiting the picturesque Napa Valley for the CIA’s 15th Annual World’s of Flavor Conference. No, I’m not a spy, and I’m not talking about that CIA, but rather The Culinary Institute of America, one of the country’s most well regarded cooking schools. Each year they assemble top chefs and culinary professionals from around the world at their beautiful campus in St. Helena, CA for a summit on food without parallel. This year’s theme was “Arc of Flavor: Re-imagining culinary exchange from the Mediterranean and Middle East to Asia.”

The teaching kitchens at CIA

It was no small honor to attend the conference, and to represent Sri Lankan food for the very first time here, joined by my esteemed colleague, Chef Koluu, who traveled all the way from Colombo for the event.  Koluu was extremely helpful when I went to Sri Lanka to research my cookbook, and I made sure he was featured when I returned to shoot No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. As one of Sri Lanka’s most well-known and respected chefs, his attendance at the conference was a must.

 

Chef Koluu outside CIA Greystone, St. Helena, CA

Having just barely escaped the east coast and the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, I arrived in the Bay Area at night, so it was not until morning that I got a good look at the CIA itself. Occupying the former hilltop mansion of The Christian Brothers’ winery and overlooking acres of quaint vineyards, the school’s substantial facilities cut quite an impressive sight. The third floor teaching kitchens alone occupy a space about half the size of a football field, filled with every modern convenience you can imagine. What a joy it must be going to school in such an environment, much less cooking there for three days. This massive kitchen is where all the action was happening as chefs from across the arc of flavor prepared countless dishes for the various seminars, demo sessions, lunch, and, of course, the formidable World Marketplace, probably the best food court going on planet earth.

It was encouraging and inspiring to see so many foreign chefs interacting with CIA staff and students, and introducing so many new ingredients and techniques. Koluu made his famous pork kalupol or “black” pork curry, fish ambul thiyal, and crab curry, along with other Sri Lankan specialties like hoppers, sambol, and coconut roti. Like the other chefs, we had a whole crew of students working with us–none of whom had ever even tried Sri Lankan food before. But they picked things up very quickly as they took care of most of the prep. For everyone involved, however, the opening day proved to be an exchange of cultures, ingredients, ideas, and good vibes.

 

 

baby back ribs

 

 

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A serious week of eating in and around the Bay Area was capped off by yet another Sri Lankan Supper Club last week as I introduced this food mecca to something which is a bit of a rarity around these parts—rice & curry. In the interests of full-disclosure, there is a Sri Lankan restaurant located about 45 minutes outside the city, but this is the first time San Francisco residents could venture down to the iconic neighborhood of Haight Ashbury and have a full, traditional island meal which included heirloom red rice direct from Sri Lanka (courtesy of Rural Returns) as well as a very special Sri Lankan cocktail called the Aria—with Arrack (courtesy of White Lion V.S.O.A.), lime juice, palm sugar and water.

 

Outside the BBF Wholesale & Mercantile Store at 1740 Haight St., San Francisco

The event was co-sponsored by Buyer’s Best Friend, a broker for small artisanal food producers (like myself), who have recently opened a store on the Haight, and are about to open a couple more locations around the city. The BBF Wholesale & Mercantile Store provides an intimate, homey environment for discovering new, small-batch products like Skiz’s Original Spice Blends, and the best part of the experience is that everything is open for tasting, sampling, touching or sniffing. So while the staff was busy arranging a single long table and laying place settings, supper club attendees could browse the various merchandise racks while enjoying a complimentary cocktail courtesy of White Lion V.S.O.A (which stands for Very Special Old Arrack), which is available now in SF and LA.

 

Skiz’s Original Sri Lankan Roasted Curry Powder — available through BBF

In addition to red rice, I also prepared chicken curry, fish ambul thiyal, dahl, mallun (sautéed greens), a beet curry, salad, and fish cutlets for the appetizer.  I also made Caramel Pudding, the Sri Lankan version of flan for dessert. The recipes for all of these dishes may be found in my cookbook, Rice & Curry: Sri Lankan Home Cooking (Hippocrene Books, 2011) As the dinner was served buffet style, plates were piled high, and the 30 in attendance did serious justice to all the food, leaving very little in the way of leftovers, which was a very good sign.

 

some satisfied customers

Despite all the planning and work that goes into these events, the dinner was a blast! I saw many old friends, whom I had not seen in a while, made some new ones, and threw back some good food and drink while introducing Sri Lankan food, one plate at a time, to an eager and enthusiastic bunch of eaters.

 

My music crew: Dub Gabriel, Professor Shehab, me, Sean Leonard

Thanks to Joyce & Adam at BBF for letting me cook in their kitchen and serve dinner in their store, Anna & Shea for helping with the cooking and logistics, and my good friends, Sean, Sassan, Gabe, Kelly & Laurie, who did a lot of work behind-the-scenes, and really helped make this dinner a big hit! Also thanks to Rural Returns and White Lion for co-sponsoring the event.

All photos by Kelly Freedman

 http://www.kellyfreedman.com/

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Dub Gabe gets busy in the SF Bay

Having just returned from a very enjoyable trip to the West Coast—specifically the Bay Area—my belly is plumper, my face more tan, and I have a noticeable smile on my face—probably due to all the good food I ate. Though I need no excuse to visit SF and its environs, The CIA (as in Culinary Institute of America) brought me out this time to speak at their 15th World’s of Flavor Conference, where I presented Sri Lankan food along with Colombo’s own Chef Koluu. I also hosted my first Sri Lankan Supper Club in in the city, and even found time to check out some amazing Asian spots in my new favorite dining district, Inner Sunset. I did not have a bad meal during my entire trip, but if I had to single out the most memorable one, I would have to say it was Bay crabs steamed in Old Bay.

nets and some simple bait, like chicken parts, are all you need

Now, being a Baltimore cat, I’ve had steamed crabs more times than I can count, but what made this meal indelibly imprinted in my mind was the fact that we caught these crabs ourselves—a first for me. My buddy Gabe, who lives in SF, has been taking advantage of his town’s proximity to nature and recently bought some crabbing nets. Gabe, like myself, is a serious DIY guy, who loves to eat, and having sampled his simple but divine crab bisque on my first night visiting, I had to have him take me to the source.

And that’s exactly what we did. On election day, which was a balmy 80 degrees in the Bay Area, we spent most of the afternoon on a little pier overlooking the iconic Golden Gate, tossing in crab nets, sipping brews, and waiting for the nets to fill up with delicious crustaceans. There are three kinds of crab in the San Francisco Bay—rock crabs, red crabs, and the popular Dungeness, which you are actually not allowed to catch in the Bay, but rather only in the Ocean. We actually trapped quite a few of these beauties, but had to throw them back in along with the red crabs that are less than 4 inches wide.

But crabbing is hella fun! All it takes are some nets, some bait, and a little patience as you wait about 10 minutes before hauling in your catch. It’s a bit like playing the slots—you never know what you’re going to get (or if you’ll get anything at all). And the whole concept of catching your own food, puts a whole new spin on dinner. It just tastes that much better because of all the effort you put into it, and the excitement of pulling in a load of keepers is even better than winning at slots.

Gabe  himself  cuts quite a character. He makes his own bread, his own pickles, and even his own kombucha. He also makes his own music, and that is, in fact, how I know him. Dub Gabriel, as he is known worldwide and outernational, was into dub music long before the hype, and he will be doing it long after everyone else has gone on to greener pastures. In fact, he is just getting another album ready as we speak, and you have a chance to support him in these efforts by following the link below and making a donation to his Kickstarter campaign, which has only a few days left.

http://kck.st/RS7K3p

Help Gabe reach his goal before time runs out!

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Oh San Francisco! How I love Thee! In addition to being one of the coolest and most beautiful cities in the country, you are probably tied neck and neck with NYC as the best FOOD city in America. I’ve had so many great meals in you (not to mention all the great wine and beer), and I would even consider living in you (if I had cash like that, but I’m stuck out here on the real set of The Wire aka Bodymore, Murderland). But I do love visiting you, and I’m coming out there really soon, so I wanted to give something back. I noticed you had no Sri Lankan restaurants in the area, and for a food mecca such as you, this is a major gap. So I am packing up my spices and bringing my travelling Sri Lankan Supper Club to liven up your palettes for an evening. My good friends at Buyer’s Best Friend, a broker for my curry powder, are letting me use their awesome new digs on Haight Street to throw this little shindig, and my new friends at Rural Returns are supplying some authentic Heirloom Red Rice directly from Sri Lanka (which I’m sure none of you has eaten before) for your dining pleasure. And that’s not all! My other new friends at White Lion Arrack are providing some complimentary Sri Lankan cocktails so this ain’t nothing but a party y’all. But tickets are limited so reserve your spot today! Right here:

http://slsupperclub.ticketleap.com/the-sri-lankan-supper-club—-san-francisco/

Serving only Skiz’s Original Raw & Roasted Sri Lankan Curry Powder:
Available at http://www.foodoro.com

Sri Lankan Supper Club, San Francisco

Monday, Nov. 5th

Buyer’s Best Friend Wholesale & Mercantile

1740 Haight St. (betw. Cole & Shrader)

SF, CA 94117

415-375-0439

The Menu

Appetizer

Fish cutlets – breaded, deep-fried croquettes of fish, potato & spices

Mains

Heirloom Red Rice from Sri Lanka

Chicken Curry

Fish Ambul Thiyal (Sour Fish Curry) – a signature Sri Lankan dish

Dahl – red lentils stewed in coconut milk

Beet Curry

Mallun – sautéed greens

Tomato/Cucumber Salad – with a chili/lime vinegarette

Mango Chutney

Papadum – thin, crispy lentil wafers

Dessert

Caramel Pudding (flan)

 *** Complimentary cocktails by White Lion Arrack ***

Sponsored by:

Rural Returns — providing the Heirloom Red Rice  & White Lion Arrack

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Check It Out Y’all!…Only a few spots left…My friend Chef Charles brings his culinary skills to BK, and it’s going to be something else!

 

Kitchensurfing @ The Ger-Nis Culinary Center

540 President Street, 2E, Brooklyn, NY (map)

Price: $75.00/per person

Chef Charles Disanayake invites you to taste contemporary Sri Lankan cuisine. This six-course tasting menu takes you on a journey through Sri Lanka, with each course highlighting the different flavors of each region and ethnic group. Sri Lankan cuisine incorporates the influences of the country’s evolving population, borrowing flavors present before, introduced during, and developed after the Colonial Period. Charles’s menu demonstrates the versatility and sophistication of Sri Lankan cuisine, and showcases dishes you won’t find anywhere else in New York.

A self-taught chef and restaurant consultant, Charles Disanayake’s culinary career has taken him around the world. He has hosted underground supper clubs in New York, Munich, London, and Sri Lanka. Charles’s New York supper club events have been featured in Business Insider magazine as one of the top 12 supper clubs in New York City.

Welcome Cocktail: Rum, Ginger, Lemongrass and Lychee

Sri Lankan Supper Club Menu

  • Coconut and Cashew Crusted Shrimp with Micro Greens and Chili Mango Chutney
  • Baked Chili Peppers Stuffed with Anchovies, Garlic and Paneer
  • “Tissue” Roti with Slow-Roasted Chicken, Scallions, Eggs, and Curry Dip
  • Crumb-fried Spicy Beef Crepes with Sweet Chili Sauce and Cilantro Lime Chutney
  • Dutch Lamprais – Saffron Rice, Beef, Chicken, Lamb and Pork Curry, Shrimp Sambal, Beef Frikandel and Curried Eggplant Cooked in Banana Leaves (This course can be served with just chicken for those who don’t eat beef or pork)
  • Wattalapam with Jaggery, Cashews, and Coconut Milk

Sri Lankan Supper Club Vegan/Vegetarian Menu 

  • Coconut and Cashew Crusted Tofu with Micro Greens tossed in a tamarind Vinaigrette with Chili Mango Chutney
  • Baked Chili Peppers Stuffed with Sweet Chili Caramelized Onions with a Panko Crust
  • “Tissue” Roti stuffed with Curried Mushrooms,Leeks and Cherry Tomato’s and Curry Dip
  • Crumb-fried Vegetarian Rolls stuffed with Spiced Potatoes and Peas with Sweet Chili Sauce and Cilantro Lime Chutney
  • Dutch Lamprais – Saffron Rice, Mixed Vegetarian Curry, Chili Sambal, Vegetarian Frikandel and Curried Eggplant Cooked in Banana Leaves (This course can be served with just chicken for those who don’t eat beef or pork)
  • Tapioca Cooked with Jaggery, Cashews, and Coconut Milk topped with Raspberries

Chef selected wine pairings included with each course

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The Embassy of Sri Lanka Washington DC invites all to
Sri Lanka Food Festival -2012
at Washington Buddhist Vihara
on Sunday, August 5 in the Vihara Premises from 9.00 AM to 3.00 PM

For more details contact:
Washington Buddhist Vihara
5017, 16th Street NW,
Washington DC, 20011
Tel: 202 723 0773

This is charity event organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington DC. 

DCfoodfestival

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from the Sunday Times of Sri Lanka
By Tharooshie Mahahewage

 

Sri Lanka was placed third at the recently held Bocuse d’Or Asian competition in Shanghai for the Biennial World Chef Championship – the Bocuse d’Or (The Concours Mondial de la Cuisine, World Cooking Contest), winning the bronze medal. This means they secure entry as one of the four Asian teams that will compete at the finals of Bocuse d’Or International championship in 2013 at Lyon, France along with culinary giants like France, U.K., U.S.A, Switzerland, Japan, Singapore, etc.

Sri Lankan chefs win bronze at world cooking contest

The two winners are Hilton Colombo’s chef Buddhika Samarasekara and Apprentice Rashen John. “The whole menu for the event revolved around the three main ingredients of Ceylon tea, Ceylon Cinnamon and Cashew,” said Chef Buddhika. This was the first time Sri Lanka has been represented at a competition of this calibre as it is frequently referred to as the culinary equivalent of the Academy Awards. This is also an honour for the Colombo Hilton celebrating its 25th year.

“This is an achievement for all Sri Lankans,” said the Promotions Manager of Bocuse d’Or Sri Lanka, Anura Dewapura. “There was a lot of hard work involved. This is a common dream for all chefs to achieve this award as it’s one of the most prestigious. This is a great encouragement for all younger chefs as well as all those who expect to enter the field.”

Also present at the news conference were the General Manager of the host hotel Hilton, Rudolf Troestler, the president of Bocuse d’Or Sri lanka, Rohan Fernandopulle, the official coach for Bocuse d’Or Sri Lanka, Alan Palmer, Director Marketing of Dilmah Tea, Dilhan Fernando, Baili Delegue in Sri lanka for the Conrere de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, Nigel Austin and the chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa.

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