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 Post subject: Thambapani ‘copper-palmed’ in Colombo
 Post Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2006 3:33 am 
Thambapani ‘copper-palmed’ in Colombo

© Copyright 2001: Indian Express
Friday Mar 17 2006

Thambapani, meaning ‘copper-palmed’, is a garden restaurant with an ethereal ambience serving Sri Lankan cuisine. It is also an art gallery where local artists can display their works.

The food here is prepared with great attention to detail - both by way of the unstinting use of ingredients and spices which are ground, pounded (no readymade mixes) and the laborious hours spent in simmering the curries to achieve the distinct flavour. The food is referred to as 'island cuisine' and prepared exactly the way the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslims and those influenced by the Portuguese, Dutch and British did. Seafood is their speciality and what is remarkable is that there is no chef to run the show. It is managed by Romayne Wickremesinghe, a woman who I am told has vast experience in this area.

Thambapani has two indoor rooms and a lounge area, but we chose to sit outside in a small but delightful courtyard filled with trees, ponds and tables with shades. As we wandered through the restaurant, we noticed the artwork - flamboyant masks, abstract nudes, aboriginal cave paintings, colourful papaya trees - an eclectic collection.

The menu is pretty diverse. Some items are denoted as Thambapani specials like Singapore Chilli Crab (baked) and Red Snapper with mashed potato. I asked for Mulligatawny (spicy chicken colonial soup served with rice and lemon, SLR 225). It was thick and smooth without chunks with a subtle flavour enhanced with lemon squeezed in - decidedly worth having no matter how much Mulligatawny you've had before. Main course choices are vast and varied - four pages of everything from Portuguese Seafood Platter (an exciting combination of baked crab, grilled prawns, calamari, pan-fried fish accompanied by salad, fries or savoury rice and lemon butter sauce) to battered prawns, Thambapani fried chicken, mutton poriyal to vegetarian dishes like pasta primavera and Shepherd's Pie.

What comes to mind when you think of Sri Lankan food? Sri Lankan crabs, no doubt! But much as the sweet-fleshed Sri Lankan crabs deserve their fame, there's a wide assortment of curries, sambol (spicy side dishes), meat and seafood dishes, snacks and desserts that are distinctively Sri Lankan. The misconception about Sri Lankan food is that it is spicy. Not as much as people think. The modern cuisine, especially, is not spicy because not much chilli is used. It has been replaced with coconut milk, curry leaves, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin seeds so that the natural flavours of these spices and condiments seep through enhancing the colour and freshness of the food. We ordered pittu (SLR 375) with prawn curry, chicken curry and seer curry. Pittu is a mixture of fresh rice meal, lightly roasted and mixed with freshly scraped coconut, then steamed in a bamboo mould. It has a soft crumbly texture and is eaten with fresh coconut milk and hot chilli relish or curry. We also had Perratu Rice (SLR 450) with onion sambol - a very lavish serving.

Dessert included fruit mousse (passion fruit, mango, seasonal fruits) and Watalappan - both excellent choices. Jaggery pudding (SLR 200) looked intriguing as well but for a moment we were tempted to order the chocolate biscuit pudding (SLR 225). Next time, no doubt, we will. And given the children's fascination with Colombo and its beauty I think it will be soon!

496/1, Duplication Road, Colombo 03
Tel: 250 0615; Fax: 259 4496

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