Our final day in Kandy was spent doing all food-related things. After another of Suranji’s big breakfasts, we decided to visit Kandy’s Central Market. I think Arun was slightly perplexed as to why we would want to go to the market since Kandy has so many other things to do. For me, markets are intriguing and are almost like doorways into having a peek at the culture of a country.
The entrance of the market was already bustling with activity. Within, the market was set with a main courtyard in the middle, and building surrounded it on all four sides. The stallholders were all very curious as to where we were from, inviting us to peruse the items in their stall, but never hard selling us which we thoroughly appreciated.
It was around 11am when we went so the early morning crowd had already dissipated and we were left with stall after stall selling an array of fresh tropical fruits, local street snacks, fresh spices and herbs, dry grains, vegetarian soy meat…
And let me tell ya, if you love cooking, you have to buy curry powder from one of these stalls. The heady mix of spices together have the ability to make you salivate in their raw form! Imagine how they’d taste in a curry.
As much as I was tempted to purchase some spices, I had to refrain seeing that we still have a lot at home and spices aren’t for keeping for extended periods of time because their flavours become less punchy over time. Moreover, I’m a lazy cook and have yet to make a curry from scratch.
I was amazed by their variety of dried fish too! We use a lot of dried, salted fish in Chinese cooking as well but the expansiveness of what the Sri Lankans have available was incredible.
We actually hopped around the corner to the wet market but the rawness of everything got to me – there were whole animals, skinned, waiting to be butchered, flies galore, and blood scattered over the metal tables. In less than 15 seconds, we were back in the dry section of the market.
While I may have been uncomfortable seeing the workings of the wet market, it didn’t turn either of us off the idea of lunch. Just across the road sat Kandyan Muslim Hotel which had a lot of rave reviews.
They had two front counters, one filled with short eats (think samosas, vada, vegetable wrapped in paratha…) and another filled with baked goods.
After Flo and I had ordered, we sat waiting while an older man joined us at our table. He was served a large platter of short eats and as he snacked away, Flo and I were wondering whether he was going to polish off the entire plate.
He didn’t. After he had had his fill, he was off and the plate was cleared away with the leftovers placed back at the front counter. Obviously, Flo and I were a little gobsmacked by this but we understand that things are done differently in Sri Lanka. Still, seeing that made us wary of trying any of the short eats while we were there.
What we did have for lunch though, were these mounds of string hoppers aka iddyapam. They’re essentially made from the same batter as hoppers but with a slightly runnier consistency to create these noodles. They reminded me a lot of our rice vermicelli back home.
We weren’t ready to have two portions of the string hoppers so one was later cleared away by the server. To go with, we had vegetable curry, beef kurma and dhal.
That dhal! I don’t think you can ever go wrong with dhal anywhere in Sri Lanka.
Flo decided that he had a bit more room left for dessert and had this sponge cake. It was a touch on the dry side and probably perfect for dunking into tea or coffee – rather like the cylindrical retro butter cakes they used to sell in Singapore back in the day.
We wandered around Kandy Town while our lunch digested and soon found ourselves at a fruit juice shop crowded with locals having their fill of juice and glasses filled with fruit cocktails topped with ice-cream.
It was so easy to opt for something safe like mango juice, orange juice, apple juice, but we decided to be adventurous and try Sri Lanka’s wood apple juice. The fruit itself looks like a rotten coconut and while Flo didn’t take to the drink at all, I can imagine coming round to it after a few tries. It was a little gritty in texture and tasted somewhat of tamarind with sweetness from the sugar to balance it out. It smelled funkier than it tasted and similar to the King of fruit, the durian, smelling it was more off-putting that eating it.
After some more walking, we decided to stop at Mlesnar Tea Cafe which turned out to be perfect timing because it began raining heavily.
It was still too early for dinner and having explore Kandy Town enough, Flo and I decided to wait until the rain had subsided before we stopped by the supermarket to pick up some items for a very simple D-I-Y dinner.
We got this jar of coconut jam with cinnamon. It was this or peanut butter but peanut butter we can get here any time and this was something different.
It reminded me of kaya without the pandan fragrance. I liked that it wasn’t too sweet although the flavour of cinnamon could be stronger. They also had this in original and chocolate – would be interesting to try the latter.
We had this jam spread of some multigrain bread. We managed to pick up the last loaf on the shelf!! The rest were just plain white and came in too big a loaf for us.
Topped with sliced bananas that we had left from breakfast. Love the bananas in Sri Lanka. They have so many different varieties each tasting slightly different from the other.
And to complete dessert, we had some yoghurt.
They didn’t sell unsweetened nor did they sell Greek yoghurt so we tried whatever they had. The yoghurt here tends to be more pudding-like in consistency which is something I’m not so used to. Nevertheless, it was an interesting find and filled us up enough until breakfast next morning before we moved off to Nuwara Eliya.