>> Sri Lankan Delight | Eat the World Los Angeles

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

Sri Lankan Delight

SRI LANKA ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฐ
Ventura Blvd. facade
COVID-19 UPDATE: Masks are required, the grocery is quite small.


While there are many Indian markets around the Southland that carry a smattering of Sri Lankan products, and another Sri Lankan establishment in Northridge that's shelves are hit and miss, it is Tarzana that unlocks the keys to all your wishes for cooking the foods of this island nation. Spices, preserves, teas, grains and dhals, curries, sodas and juices and much, much more have been available from this location for three decades. You can even get personal items shipped to and from Sri Lanka and Los Angeles if you need.

If you are new to Sri Lankan products or otherwise curious, the store is also fun for a wander. Its shelves are almost too tidy and organized given that the aisles always seem to be full of a few people. The market is not large, but it seems to have an endless amount of fresh and packaged goods.

A selection of packages from the freezer

For those that are not as well-versed in the kitchen and just looking for options ready to eat, this is not a restaurant but the freezer section is worth checking out. They have frozen meals, appetizers, and desserts that are made and assembled in Sri Lanka for the market and shipped to sell in Los Angeles.

Despite the home cooking and imported aspects of the foods, most packages are either $4.99 or $5.99, making the filling up of your freezer an economical possibility.

Patties, stuffed roti, fish kottu
Vegetable stuffed roti and patties and fish kottu.

Widely available as home-cooked fast food in Sri Lanka, kottu is a perfect quick plate when you do not feel your most adventurous while traveling or when an exceptional hunger starts to bring pain. It will be no time before a satisfying mound of hot and wonderfully greasy kottu will show up, usually beneath the fold of a few sheets of the day's newspaper.

The dish is made up primarily of Sri Lankan roti called gothamba, chopped up (the literal meaning of kottu) and mixed with ingredients. On a Sri Lankan corner, you will be able to pick and choose exactly how much of each ingredient you want, a little more egg, a lot more chili, etc. As you can imagine, all the ingredients and spices are added already for freezer version, but they do a good job catering to average Sri Lankan levels.

Fish kottu

Both the vegetable patties and stuffed roti are spicy and simultaneously full of spices. The roti is especially buttery and miraculously good for something that has been frozen for so long. Customers who have an air fryer will find the best results using that appliance.

In Sri Lanka, these stuffed roti are called elawalu roti and can be found cooked in carts or the storefronts of restaurants and come in a variety of shapes of which a triangle is the most common. Usually found in the same warmed cases and only made recently, another "short eats" favorite are patties with fish or vegetables.

Vegetable stuffed roti and patties

The only slightly disappointing dish of this round was the fish biriyani (below), which despite a package showing long strands of basmati was actually just nubs of broken rice and very dry by the time it was warmed up.

The rice is already infused with plenty of spice but does come with whole and ground peppers to mix in if you want to thoroughly punish yourself. The filet of tuna and the eggplant are good, but unfortunately there is just not enough of either for the portion of rice.

Fish biriyani

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