As we had been so impressed with the food at our hotel, we booked ourselves in for a cookery lesson with their executive chef Sugath Mendis who was waiting for us to finish breakfast in order to take us around the local markets.
Whilst the market in Colombo was quite large, the markets in Galle only stock enough fresh produce for the towns people to purchase on a day to day basis which I found really interesting and appreciated the fact this allows the suppliers and the buyers to keep wastage to a minimum. We started with a brief tour of the fruit market before passing by the fish market enroute to the spice stall and main vegetable market which gave us a real sense of where the products we were going to be cooking with actually came from.
The spice stall in particular was pretty special. “Yasiru Spice Shack and Garden” is a family run spice stall where the father is responsible for roasting and blending all the spices and his son sells them to local restaurants and home cooks. We were given the opportunity to smell all the herbs and spices on sale and you could immediately see that the curry powders were just something else! D&G ended up buying over 1kg of spices to take home with them and I was so smitten with the 3 pepper mix and curry powder that I also bought some to take back as gifts when I head back to the Uk. This is definitely somewhere to visit when you are in Galle.
On our return to the hotel we started on the lesson with Chef Mendis preparing the first dish for us – a simple yet extremely delicious chicken curry which really helped us understand the Sri Lankan flavour combinations. We then got an opportunity to make the rest of the dishes ourselves with my task being the beetroot curry and the dahl. I couldn’t believe how easy these were – I always imagined they would be much harder but with the beetroot curry it could not have been more simple. We put a couple of cups of sliced, raw beetroot into a cold pan then added chilli powder, turmeric, curry powder, cinnamon, curry leaves, raw garlic and some chopped green chilli and onion. We then added enough coconut milk to just cover the beetroot and switched on the gas, cooking it for around 15 minutes. The end result was just completely delicious and quite unexpected – I will definitely be cooking this again. We also cooked a seafood curry with prawns, squid and local fish, 2 sambals and a cashew and pea curry.
One we finished the lesson we had time for a quick shower and then headed down to the restaurant to eat the dishes we had prepared in our lesson – you can see from my plate that I’m not a big rice eater and so I ate mine with some papadams which was far better for me. All of the dishes were just outstanding and we were so impressed that we had actually managed to cook dishes of this quality! Even D&G who cook almost every night (and have a lot of Indian and Sri Lankan food in their repertoire) were impressed with the class and went away with a deeper understanding of Sri Lankan flavours which was great! Dessert was a simple but stunning buffalo curd with palm sugar syrup that we had seen earlier at the market and I don’t think there could have been a better end to the meal.
You can book classes online with Deco on 44 even if you are not a guest of the hotel and I would highly recommend doing so!