The Sri Lankan porridge makers

LiveMint · January 19, 2018

For a group of women in Sri Lanka, a humble breakfast porridge called ‘kenda’ holds the key to a better fortune

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The Perfect Day in Colombo

Parts Unknown · October 26, 2017

When I first moved to Colombo from Mumbai, India, now more than three years ago, I was immediately struck by how horizontal the city seemed to be. Having lived most of my life in the populous and vertiginous commercial capital of India, Colombo’s squat skyline, composed of spacious houses and vast, open spaces draped in a thick cloak of greenery, took me somewhat by surprise. Unused to the idea of a city that laid out its charm so plainly, I assumed that it would be easy to get to know the “real” Colombo. With time and experience, I have come to the humbling realization that despite its diminutive size, Colombo is several cities contained in one.

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Your guide to Sri Lankan cuisine

Parts Unknown · October 25, 2017

It was a humid July afternoon in Colombo, only a couple of weeks after I arrived in the city as a bewildered expatriate from Mumbai. Still finding my sea legs and longing for home, I found comfort unexpectedly in a bowl of brick-red curry. Spicy enough to make my eyes water, the curry piqued my curiosity. It was laden with chunks of a fruit that tasted like a cross between green mango and pineapple, with thorny pits thrown into the mix as well. After an afternoon of feverish Googling, I learned that the fruit was the hog plum, locally known as ambarella. Armed with this newly acquired nugget of knowledge, I felt like I had finally found a toehold in a cuisine—and culture—quite different from my own.

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In love with chocolate

LiveMint · July 28, 2017

A small chocolate revolution is afoot in Vietnam, with artisanal chocolatiers like Marou emerging as champions of the local cacao bean

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Common man’s cup of tea

LiveMint · April 28, 2017

Savoury Japanese ‘genmaicha’ tastes like liquid popcorn

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Eat your art out in Fort Kochi

LiveMint · March 10, 2017

Heading to Kochi before the Kochi-Muziris Biennale wraps up? Here’s where to get your meals between the art intake

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Sri Lanka’s ‘Kithul’ Palm Syrup: An Ancient Sweetener In Need Of Saving

National Public Radio · January 26, 2017

The story of Sri Lanka’s most beloved sweetener starts with the kithul, or fishtail, palm tree and a tapper, like 58-year-old Amuvita Gamage Dayasena.

The slightly built farmer sharpens his knife on the fallen branch of a tree and climbs up a wooden lattice that he has tied to one side of a kithul tree in his garden. Within minutes, he is on the top of the nearly 40-foot-tall tree, making sharp incisions at the base of a cluster of flowers that droop down from a branch like a bunch of grapes. Dayasena ties a jute sack to the base of the cluster to collect droplets of sap trickling down.

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LJ Iyengar Bakery: Rising from the south

LiveMint · January 21, 2017

Once a quiet, tree-shaded suburb of Mysuru, Kuvempu Nagar hasn’t been able to stave off the deliberate march of urban development. Two-wheelers zip up and down its streets, adding a noisy soundtrack, while an outcrop of new businesses competes for your attention. Where there may have earlier been an odd bakery or two to serve the neighbourhood, there are now several on the same street, all loosely tied together by a prefix that serves both as a descriptor and a brand. These are the Iyengar bakeries: stubbornly old-school, vegetarian bakeries that have defied passing trends and fickle tastes to retain an almost puzzling popularity.

The LJ Iyengar Bakery is a modest establishment, like the others in the area, with a rectangular glass display you can gently lean over while you pick what you would like to eat. In one corner sit neat loaves of freshly baked white bread, and in the other are “puffs”, layers of puff pastry folded into golden triangles, encasing an onion, carrot and potato heart. The biscuits lie heaped on the highest rung: Crumbly, cardamom-scented almond biscuits alongside rich, cashew-flecked ones, and earthy ragi biscuits to soften the burn of the green chilli-laden khara (or spicy) biscuits.

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Kebab and Korma topped by ‘Kurmura’

LiveMint · December 02, 2016

Lucknow is justly renowned for its princely fare, but its street food in the lanes of Aminabad, Hazratganj and Chowk is as unique

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Sri Lanka’s bread vans: Bearers of short eats and happiness

Express Foodie · July 31, 2016

Afternoons tend to be quiet in the tree-shaded inner by-lanes of Colombo, with the stifling tropical heat bearing down on the city like an unwelcome blanket. Very little seems to stir in these languid hours until a faint tune, often a speedy version of Beethoven’s Fur Elise (or a similarly familiar number), draws closer. The tune is a clarion call to the neighbourhood that the bread van is on its midday rounds. As the shrill horn plays on loop for maximum impact, customers begin to trickle out onto the streets for their dalliance with their daily bread.

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