Sri Lanka: A Food and Tea lover's paradise

Tripoto
30th Dec 2017

Keep Calm and Crab on!

Photo of Sri Lanka: A Food and Tea lover's paradise by Akshata S

One of the earliest things my husband and I bonded over was our love (read addiction) for sea food and tea. The tropical island of Sri Lanka thrives on a staple diet of fish and rice while its highlands are extremely favourable for production of premium quality tea. So after months of pre-wedding dieting when it came to deciding on our honeymoon destination, Sri Lanka and us were a match made in food heaven!

After landing in Colombo we took a 3 hours drive to Kandy - a historic city surrounded by beautiful mountains and tea plantations. After visiting the sacred Buddhist Temple of the Tooth we made our first gastronomic discovery!

Time Travel to colonial era with a vibrant twist @The Empire Cafe

Photo of Kandy, Sri Lanka by Akshata S

The Empire Cafe

Located conveniently on temple street, this cosy cafe draws you towards itself with its colonial architecture, quirky and vibrant decor. Its refreshing menu and friendly staff makes it an oasis for a weary traveller.

Scrumptious Sri Lankan Rice and Curry @Empire Cafe

Photo of Sri Lanka: A Food and Tea lover's paradise by Akshata S

Homegrown Ceylon tea served by the pot in Sri Lanka!

Photo of Sri Lanka: A Food and Tea lover's paradise by Akshata S

The first dish we ordered was Empire Classic Sri Lankan Rice and Fish Curry. Interestingly, they serve it along with 3 vegetable preparations, papadum and mango chutney. The curry was the right amount of savoury and the vegetables were a good mix of sweet and spicy. We also ordered the classic Ceylon tea which they serve by the pot!(at the cost of a cup) This seems to be a norm across this Tea Country as we experienced it wherever we went. Finally we ordered the fresh Empire Salad that was made of gotukola, basil, lettuce, lightly spiced prawns, coconut milk and tangy mustard dressing.

The delicious Empire Salad with spiced prawns

Photo of Sri Lanka: A Food and Tea lover's paradise by Akshata S

Vintage film posters of Sri Lanka from the hallway looked over us as our taste buds rejoiced with happiness!

Vintage film posters adorn the corridor walls of Empire Cafe

Photo of Sri Lanka: A Food and Tea lover's paradise by Akshata S

When at this beautiful hill station, a stroll around the beautiful and soothing Kandy lake is a must. Before departing from Kandy we tried some delicious baked fish with béchamel sauce at our hotel Amaya Hills.

Baked fish with béchamel sauce. Yum!

Photo of Sri Lanka: A Food and Tea lover's paradise by Akshata S

Labookellie Estate and Tea Centre

We crossed several breath-taking tea estates on our way to Nuwara Eliya. But the one that particularly caught our fancy was Labookellie Estate and Tea Centre. One of the finest tea centres in Sri Lanka, this estate provides visitors a glimpse of the making of premium Ceylon tea through walking tour of their manufacturing plant. After the tour, you can visit the vintage tea cafe to sample some of their tea variations and also purchase them if you want!

Pitstop at the Labookellie Tea Center in Nuwara Eliya

Photo of Sri Lanka: A Food and Tea lover's paradise by Akshata S

The chill in the air, beautiful hills with tea plantations as far as our eyes could see, a hot cup of refreshing Ceylon tea and great company. What more could we want?

Colonial Bungalows, Victorian well tended gardens and a fancy race course - this city is rightly called 'Little England'. Over our 3 days stay at this magical cool climate escape from the present we visited Hakgala Botanical Gardens, Seetha Amman Temple, Lake Gregory, Horton Plains National Park and Victoria Park.

Living at The Grand Hotel was a royal experience in itself.

The regal Grand Hotel - Nuwara Eliya

Photo of Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka by Akshata S

We tried local Sri Lankan cuisine like spicy Chicken Kottu at a food court and Garlic Chicken with Vegetable Fried Rice with some delicious Ceylon tea (served by the pot as usual) at Milano restaurant in city market.

Garlic Chicken vegetable fried rice at Milano restaurant

Photo of Sri Lanka: A Food and Tea lover's paradise by Akshata S

Spicy Chicken Kottu! Yum!

Photo of Sri Lanka: A Food and Tea lover's paradise by Akshata S

The English breakfast at our hotel was quite mouthwatering as well with an elaborate spread of fruits, cakes, juices, breads, eggs, Sri Lankan style fish, chicken, dosas and a lot more!

English breakfast at the Grand Hotel

Photo of Sri Lanka: A Food and Tea lover's paradise by Akshata S

On arriving in Colombo after a 4 hours drive we went straight to the Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct, which unlike what it sounds, is one of the most attractive destination for shoppers in the city. The old colonial structure offered us much more than a reminder of the past.

Nestled between cute decor and designer stores was the highlight of our Sri Lankan food trail - Ministry of Crab!

The open and spacious interiors of the Ministry of Crab

Photo of Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Akshata S

Restaurant entry and tables along the corridors of the colonial structure

Photo of Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Akshata S

Awarded as one of the Asia's best restaurant, this place is a must visit for every hard core sea food lover. They have crabs available in different sizes and the staff helps you pick the right one. There are other sea food items like prawns and seer available on the menu but when but we tried the Garlic Chilli Crab with a side of traditional Sri Lankan Kade bread and mixed vegetables.

A culinary experience like none other

Photo of Sri Lanka: A Food and Tea lover's paradise by Akshata S

The place truly lives upto its name as the crabs we had were truly delicious. The garlic chilli sauce in which the crabs were cooked, did not overpower that the taste of the meat but enhanced the experience. The bread and vegetables complimented the crab meat well. It is indeed a crab lover's heaven in the heart of Colombo.

Galle Face Green - Perfect for an evening walk

Photo of Sri Lanka: A Food and Tea lover's paradise by Akshata S

After freshening up we headed out for a walk to Galle Face Green - an ocean-side park in the heart of the city. One one side is the vast, breezy ocean with a promenade laced with street food stalls selling Prawn Vadei and children flying kites on the other are overpowering headquarters of multi-national companies, banks and 5 star hotel properties. We sat on one of the benches on the promenade and happily looked back at the amazing gastronomical journey we had had.

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