The curfew cuisine diaries from Sri Lanka: Everyday people
Sly and the Family Stone had the right idea. We all have to eat. We're everyday people
Today is the 90th day of curfew. Seriously. Admittedly, it's from midnight to four in the morning, but it's still on. Sadly, life has gone back to 'normal'. Not the flaunted NEW normal, but the old one, where no one cared about anything except getting haircuts and causing traffic jams. Now most of us wear face masks, but that was a common sight in countries like Japan and Singapore... it's just leapt across the Bay of Bengal to reach us in Sri Lanka is all.
While we were in lockdown, not all meals were Japanese or local specialities. The main meal of our day – the one we all came together for – was lunch. And most lunches were everyday food. Our usual lunch would be rice as a base, two veg dishes, one with a gravy and usually a 'white' curry, one fried. We generally also have a leaf dish, which we call a 'malung'. Usually it's gotukola (Centella asiatica), which is finely chopped, served with chopped onion, chopped chilli and even grated coconut, seasoned with salt water. There is always a curry, a meat dish. When meat was scarce, we used tinned fish. We also had a "rice puller" - either a chutney, or dried fish or whole dried chilli, deep fried, or even popadom.
An everyday lunch - except this lunch featured Breadfruit from a tree that grows in our garden.
Lunch is a wholly balanced meal in Sri Lanka. Carbs, Fibre, Protein and Sugar all feature in lesser or greater amounts. Shown above is breadfruit made with water as a base for the gravy. Good but...
...This is better! Breadfruit with a coconut milk based gravy with mustard and green chillies to add spiciness. Also note the "rice puller" dried fish and dried chilli, both deep fried.
A word or two about "rice pullers" – they are little taste bombs. Each one is either salty, sugary, sour, spicy and every combination of the above that you can think of. So as you would imagine, the combinations are virtually endless. Mango and Chilli, tomato and chilli, Bilimbi and dried and salted fish with ginger. "Rice Pullers" are limited only by your imagination and taste.
To those of us who can do it, lunch is followed by a short nap, kind of like the siesta time in Spain or Mexico – temperate climes. But being at the age that knows of Sly and The Family Stone, my life is a bit different from the generation that has followed. The one thing that all generations enjoy is a good lunch. A lunch that is simple. A lunch for Everyday People. And by the way? The reference to Jamie? That was because of the last episode of Jamie and Jimmy's Friday Night Feast that I saw... :-)
It stared Jamie Oliver, not Mr. May. (As if Mr. May was EVER a Jamie)