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Sri Lankan chefs cook up an international audience

The island's unique cuisine is steadily acquiring a global profile

An assortment of spices and other basic ingredients needed for a typical Sri Lankan Sinhalese meal, as presented by Viran Perera of Na Tree Catering. (Photo by Rajpal Abenayake)

COLOMBO -- Sri Lankan food is a smorgasbord of color, its varied forms reflecting the complex ethnic and religious history of the island. Unlike Thai or Indian cuisine, it has never attracted much international attention. But that is changing as a new generation of chefs finds ways to popularize its unique mix of flavors.

Sinhala, European, Tamil and Muslim influences have all contributed to the layered story of Sri Lankan food, each providing the inspiration for notable local dishes. For example, biryani, a rice curry with its roots in Indian Muslim cuisine, is strikingly different in Sri Lanka, where it is spicier and served with accompaniments such as achcharu (pickle), cashew curry and mint sambol, made with grated coconut and flaked fish. Sri Lankan biryani is traditionally cooked and served in a clay pot.

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