48 G and M, Medan Setia 2,
Plaza Damansara, Bukit Damansara,
Tel: 03-2092 5378
Business hours: Noon to 3.00pm
and 6.00pm to 11.00pm
WHEN the opportunity to sample Sri Lankan fare at Aliyaa Island Restaurant and Bar turned up recently, I was eager to sample some of the dishes from the country that is rich in culture and history.
The assignment was a walk down memory lane for me as I was fortunate to have tasted some Sri Lankan food thanks to a friend’s mother back in school.
Walking into the restaurant nestled in Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur, one gets a warm, welcoming feeling with the black-and-white interior design concept.
Aliyaa, which means elephant in Singhalese, prides itself on serving some of the island nation’s most delectable dishes that are both colourful and aromatic.
Restaurant manager Sangeethan Sivagna-nam said they keep their dishes simple.
“It is like home-cooked food, street food and party food that you probably cannot find in fine-dining restaurants,” said Sangeethan, who added that it would be a nostalgic dining experience for Sri Lankans.
Top of the list is the current promotion at the restaurant — Sri Lankan Crabs served in various styles. The two favourites amongst diners are the Colombo and Jaffna preparations.
Chef MS Yogeswaran said both dishes are very different in style, with the Colombo version made using the outlet’s own curry powder while the Jaffna Crab is a little sour.
“The Colombo style is made from roasted curry powder and has a little bit of screw pine leaves while the Jaffna curry powder uses the Aliyaa curry powder with tamarind juice for the sourness,” he said.
Both the crab dishes go really well with any of the bread but I personally like the combination of the Colombo Crab with the Pol Roti made from grated coconut, onion and mild chilli.
Sri Lankans are famous for their various sambal, appam and, not forgetting, the string hopper (putu mayam).
Aliyaa has four different sambal — Katta Sambal, Seeni Sambal, Pol Sambal and Karupillay Sambal — that were served to us with delicious fish cutlets.
The Katta Sambal is made from Maldivian fish and is a little spicy, the taste of chilli is evident in the palate after tasting it while the Seeni Sambal (sweet sambal) is made from caramalised onions, a little bit of chilli and sugar.
Pol Sambal (coconut sambal) is quite tasty and is a little spicy but the tomatoes balance out the bird’s eye chilli while the Karupillay Sambal almost resembles South Indian chutney and is made from curry leaves.
The fish cutlets are made from tuna and are well spiced so the taste of the fish is not pungent.
String hoppers are a favourite in Malaysia but Aliyaa serves them up with a twist, as the String Hopper Kothu.
The string hoppers are fried with a number of ingredients including an egg, spices, curry leaves and diners can choose between vegetarian, chicken, lamb, beef or seafood to go with it. The combination is quite delicious and interesting.
Another must-try is the Mutton Paal Poriyal, a flavourful dish that is specially made with roasted curry powder. The mutton is boiled with coconut milk and all the spices so the meat absorbs the flavours.
Everyone knows the sothi is synonymous with Sri Lankan cuisine and Aliyaa uses a special recipe called Chef Publis Pol Kiri Thiyal.
“This is an authentic Jaffna dish and the recipe is from a celebrated Sri Lankan chef, Chef Publis,” said Sangeethan.
There is also a dish called Lumprais which is essentially oven-baked rice wrapped in a banana lead served with a Devilled dish of the diner’s choice, fried egg with roasted cashew nuts and vegetables of the day.
Chef Yogeswaran said the dish was mixed together and when served, it looks like our Malaysian fried rice.
One might be apprehensive to try the dish judging by the variety mixed in it but the end results were quite good.
Finally, Appam lovers can try their Appam variations, plain, with egg, sugar or coconut. The paper thin pancakes are crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, just the way mum makes them.
The Sri Lankan crab promotion ends tomorrow.
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.