Last month we explored why the Fortress Organic Vegetable and Herbal Garden plays a significant role in our Sustainable Movement and why Organic meals are a healthy option. Today, let us discover the process behind putting together your favorite dish using the ingredients grown in our organic garden.
In the recent past, BBC Food Channel rated Sri Lankan cuisines as one of the healthiest dining options in the world. The reason for that is, most of the traditional dishes prepared in Sri Lanka are based on plants, flavored with naturally grown spices, and consist of a high concentration of essential nutrients. The chefs at Fortress focus on creating opportunities for our guests to experience all these mouthwatering dishes. From a simple salad or a flavorsome soup to even a sweet dessert, guests staying at Fortress can experience it all.
Did you know that the traditional Fortress Rice and Curry served at our restaurant is one of the most loved and requested plates at the resort? For many, it is because of the unforgettable taste and the colorful side dishes offered when served. But for others, it is mainly because the plate includes a variety of nutrients that help one maintain a healthful lifestyle.
The rice and curry dish is one of the favorite and regularly consumed main courses of the natives. Rice is boiled and served with curry and some vegetables or meat, depending on one’s preference. There are many varieties of rice, and each comes with a distinctive flavor. Indigenous rice to Sri Lanka are Samba, Keeri Samba, Red Nadu, Red Samba, and Nadu Rice. Rice rich in carbohydrates can keep you stimulated and acts as fuel for your day-to-day activities. Brown rice (Red Nadu or Red Samba) provides additional nutrients such as fiber, manganese, selenium, magnesium, and B vitamins. A possible reason why at Fortress, the frequently requested rice and curry dish comes with red rice. It also could be that our guests enjoy the taste and its exotic color.
Curry comes from the Tamil word kari, meaning sauce. To get the best flavor of a curry dish, one must dedicate years to learn the art of curry making. The base can consist of a precise blending of chili, coriander, white and sweet cummin, mustard, pepper, fenugreek, cinnamon, clove, and cardamom. Most of these spices are slightly roasted and then stone-ground. Curry customarily cooked in coconut milk gives a rich and flavoury base to the sauce. Every curry is then further flavored by adding a bouquet garni-of fresh herbs and garnishes-shallots. Some of them are generally green peppers, karapincha (Murraya koenigii), and sometimes Rampe (Pandanus latifolia), lemongrass, mint, garlic, and green ginger.
The basic structure of curry can vary widely. Chicken, beef, and mutton are cooked classically in a thick sauce of coconut milk and all the curry spices. The preparation of fish changes widely according to different regions. The best-known fish specialty of Sri Lanka is the southern ambul tiyal. While the red, firm-fleshed skipjack the best choice for this dish, it is equally good made with white fish such as seer or para (mackerel). Firstly the fish is marinated in a sharp sour paste made from black pepper, goraka (the fruit of the Garcinia cambogia), and salt and baked slowly in a clay pot. Prawns also make a tasty curry dish and is loved by many from all over the world. The curry is put together with chili paste, coconut milk, and the usual fresh herbs. Whitefish also makes a delightful white curry. Here the ingredients are stone-ground mustard, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, and green ginger. Another fish plate famous on the island is the fish smore, a delectable Dutch-Sinhalese compromise, same as the beef smore and meatball curry.
Fortress Organic Vegetable and Herbal Garden provide many ingredients that help our chefs prepare the perfect dish for our guests. Some of it being Abmbarella (also know as June plum used in curries and to make pickle and chutney), Passion fruit (used to make homemade juice, homemade jam, jelly, and desserts), Green chili (used in curries and pickle), Katuru mugunga (Sesbania Grandiflora famous for medicinal usage), Banana blossom (used in various salads, curries and most of our vegan dishes), along with many more. Visit our garden during your next holiday and discover more amazing organic ingredients grown by our skillful gardeners.
A BONUS READING MATERIAL:
Mentioned below is a quick and easy recipe that the chefs follow when putting together Pol Sambol (Coconut chutney). It is a side dish popular among the natives. Pol Sambol can be consumed either during breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
2 cups – Fresh grated coconut*
1 tbsp – Chili powder
12 tsp – Chilies pepper flakes
Dash of pepper
Salt to taste
3-4 small red onions (shallots) or 1/2 red onion finely diced
1 tbsp – finely chopped curry leaves (optional)
1 – Green chili finely diced (optional)
1 tbsp – Maldive fish (optional)
2-3 tbsp – Lime juice
* If fresh coconut is not available, you can use desiccated unsweetened coconut. Add about 3/4 cups of water to it and microwave for a minute before using.
Use a mortar and pestle (vangediya) and add the chili powder, chili flakes, and salt to it and grind to a paste. An alternative for a mortar and pestle, you can use a food processor or mix well with your hands in a medium-size bowl.
Grind all the ingredients above except lime in the mortar and pestle (vangediya).
Mix in the coconut to the mix.
Squeeze the lime juice, and then mix and adjust salt based on your preferences.
A SHORT BEHIND THE SCENE CLIP – PREPARATION OF RICE AND CURRY AT THE FORTRESS RESORT AND SPA: