Sri Lanka has been given more than twenty names as travelers over the centuries from Greece, to the Arab World, the British, the Portuguese, the Dutch, and even one of our favorite travelers, Ibn Battuta (who called it Serendib), all named this trade-route Island on their way through. Under British Rule, then called Celon, Sri Lanka was a prized possession because of its cinnamon (Sri Lanka still produces about 80% of the world's cinnamon) and its world famous tea. Ibn Battuta noted that it was an Island full of rubies, pearls, and monkeys.
Global eaters are wont to understand things that are new by things that are known. Middle Eastern Foul and flat bread are just like refried beans and tortillas, Ramen is Japanese Pho, Samosas are Indian Empanadas, and the list goes on. While there is some value in associations, and perhaps adventurers need a mental safety net when they try new things, this can also lead to understanding an experience that should be three dimensional as being "flat". With that in mind, is Sri Lankan food "just like Indian food?" The answer is yes and no. There are, of course, regional similarities. Outsiders will notice that Indians and Sri Lankans share an affection for creative use of spices. Islands, and Island food, have a way of developing their own unique flair even when they are placed within a dominant geography (Check out the Palk Strait, or the city of Jaffna on Google earth--its beautiful). There are certainly many Island flavors incorporated into Sri Lankan cuisine.
Its all about the Unboxing
There are few restaurant based foods that provide the "unboxing" experience that Chicken Lumprias provides. Its begins in mysteriously wrapped in foil and unfurls into a beautiful and delicious dish. This banana leaf wrapped treat is a common street food option in Sri Lanka.
This dish speaks to Sri Lanka as a hybrid of communities and flavors. The Island flavors, not to mention presentation in a banana leaf, are evident in this dish. Furthermore, the name comes from Dutch traders who called it "Lump Rice"
Click through the pictures to see the metamorphosis.