Sri Lanka is a food wonderland! I had the opportunity to cook in Sri Lanka last year in our sister hotel. There I met over 170 chefs in one hotel and I learnt so much about cooking in such a short time. There were over 17 food and beverage outlets, all ranging from Japanese cuisine right through to Italian and fine dining so you can imagine the talent in these kitchens and the knowledge all in one place, to me I was like a kid in a toy store and I didn’t know where to turn to next.
One of the stand out things I experienced was the Kottu Roti. You “heard” the dish before you saw it. The chef would cook the roti with his two spatulas making a rhythmic ra-tat-tat-tat as he chopped away on his metal grill. The smell is something I’ve never experience before, in fact Sri Lankan cooking aromas were all a new experience to me and it was awesome to experience it in Sri Lanka.
Every night after service, I would visit chef Ravi at his stall to watch, learn and eat his Kottu Roti. By the end of it all, I didn’t have to ask him, he just knew why I was coming to see him, he had the Sri Lankan tea sweetened by jaggery (a type of palm sugar) and he would already have the Kottu Roti started on the grill.
It is a spicy dish, very aromatic with its pandan leaf but specifically with the large use of curry leaves. I realised that curry leaves and green chillies were not only in endless supply but was also used in almost all their dishes, so yes, Sri Lankan food is very spicy and very aromatic.
Try this recipe when you have left over chicken curry (or any curry really). Instead of heating it up with left over rice, try this and you’ll have a totally different meal.
Chef Ravi getting ready with his Kottu Roti
1/4 Cup Peanut Oil
1 Pandan Leaf
1 cup Curry Leaf
1/2Cup Leek Greens finely sliced
1 Onion finely sliced
5 Green Chilli finely sliced
1 tblspn Garlic finely chopped
4 Tomatoes roughly chopped
1 Carrot finely grated
1 tblspn Chilli Flakes
6 Roti finely chopped
2 Cups Chicken Curry
1 tblspn Chilli Flake Paste made by slowly frying off in oil until paste
- Heat up a large grill top, preferable a flat top of a BBQ
- Add the peanut oil onto the flat top and allow to heat up
- Crack the eggs on the grill top and using a spatula or grill scraper, chop the egg up on the grill as it cooks
- Add the pandan leaf, curry leaf, leek greens, onion and green chilli and garlic on the grill and cook using the chopping motion with the grill spatula, cook for at least one minute
- Add the tomatoes and cook until it breaks down, about 2 minutes
- Add the carrots, chilli flakes and chopped roti and continue to cook with the same chopping motion
- Add the chicken curry and chop it through the mixture
- Add chillie flakes and continue to cook through
- Cook until the roti and chicken and cook together
The grill ready for the Ra-tat-tat-tat!!
Kottu Roti served with Hoppers