I had the pleasure of attending a luncheon in DC yesterday at the World Bank’s Executive Dining Hall, which had been transformed for a couple days into a Raja Bojun or Curry Leaf, a couple of the more popular Sri Lankan restaurants in Colombo. Even the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the U.S., Jaliya Wickramasuriya, who was in attendance, remarked that he felt like he was back home, surrounded by sights (a cultural exhibition) and smells of Sri Lanka.
The event, a joint venture by the Sri Lankan embassy in Washington and Restaurant Associates, who are in charge of catering at the World Bank, was aimed at spotlighting the little known cuisine of Sri Lanka, and for the occasion they flew in two top Sri Lankan chefs–Chef Gerard Mendis of the Colombo Hilton and Chef P. Madhawa Weerabaddhana.
Just a glance at the buffet menu was enough to get my mouth watering: Beef Smore; Spanish Mackeral Mustard curry; Spicy tempered prawn; baked chicken in coriander; cherry tomato and spicy egg curry; cashew and green pea curry; red lentils (dhal); ghee rice; fried egg plant moju; and mung-bean stuffed baby calamari just to name a few of the dishes served. Plus they had a whole slew of Sri Lankan sweets such as bibikkan, coconut rock, and love cake.
The hall was packed, and as I overheard someone in line behind me say, “What exactly is Sri Lankan food?,” I knew their answer would be accompanied by a distended stomach (like my own by the time I finally left). I even mentioned to someone sitting at my table that we usually take a nice long nap in Sri Lanka after a meal of such enormous proportions.
Anyway, kudos to the chefs for coming all this way and putting up an amazing spread, and also for the Sri Lankan embassy for taking positive steps to highlight what I believe is our best kept secret. Rice & Curry is going to conquer the world!