Sri Lankan symphony of flavours

The Aliyaa Experience set for two.

Our Sri Lankan culinary journey at Aliyaa, Kuala Lumpur, began with a small bowl of rasam each to get our appetite going. Unlike ordinary rasam, this savoury, unusually milky soup version was only mildly sour and very flavourful; we could have easily finished a few bowls of these.

Then came the golf ball-sized Fish Cutlets (RM24) that were spheres of perfectly balanced crispiness and tenderness. Crafted from flaked mackerel fish and aromatic spices, these golden orbs were elevated to perfection when dipped into the accompanying luscious onion sauce.

Crab curry with the flesh piled on top.Crab curry with the flesh piled on top.

Savouring the fragrant masterpiece of Crab Meat Curry (RM185), we were instantly smitten by its piquant taste. Chunks of sweet crab meat in a pool of slightly creamy, robust curry, this signature dish succeeded in setting our palates ablaze. The flesh had already been removed from the shells, so we didn’t have to get our hands dirty and could enjoy the dish fully.

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Also vying for our attention and stomach space was Chef Siva’s Tiger Prawns Negombo (RM38/100g), named after Sri Lanka’s beach resort destination famed for its seafood and ancient fishing traditions. Slathered in thick, rich curry, the huge, succulent tiger prawns floated our boat, each alluring bite a testament to the chef’s culinary prowess.

The kothu roti was mixed table-side.The kothu roti was mixed table-side.

The beloved Sri Lankan staple of Kothu (RM30-RM45) was prepared table-side, much to our delight. Aliyaa offers kothu made from string hoppers, roti or puttu (steamed cylindrical-shape ground rice cakes layered with grated coconut) with a choice of chicken, mutton, seafood or vegetarian options.

Our kothu roti and seafood was deftly cooked by Sivarajah in a heated stone pot. We instantly took to the resultant dish; its enticing charred smokiness and mouthwatering medley of flavours and textures tasted similar to that of char kway teow.

Said to be good for digestion, high in fibre and rich in calcium and iron, the slender pods of the Moringa tree were turned into a notable Drumstick Curry (RM22). We relished scraping out the soft pulp and drenching our rice with the turmeric-accented gravy.

Sweet Appam sprinkled with palm sugar.Sweet Appam sprinkled with palm sugar.

For the uninitiated, the Aliyaa Experience set menu (RM128 each/min. 2 persons) served as a great introduction to the culinary charms of Sri Lanka. It was a veritable feast featuring a woven round tray brimming with little sampling dishes of Fish Sothi, Prawn Varuval, Devilled Chicken, Mutton Curry, Cashewnut Paal (brinjal) Curry, Brinjal Moju (pickle), Nethili (dried anchovies) Sambol, Vallarai (daun pegaga) and Carrot Sambol, Papadam and Chilli.

We took our time to savour and discover the intricate blend of flavours and textures by combining the tantalising offerings with Nei Soru (ghee rice) and string hoppers. Completing the set was warm, fluffy soft Sweet Appam, sprinkled with palm sugar that hit our sweet spot.

We rounded off our tasty Sri Lankan gastronomic journey with Wattalappam (RM15), a classic steamed custard pudding of coconut milk, eggs and spices delicately sweetened with jaggery. It was the perfect finale to celebrate the rich heritage and diverse flavours of Sri Lanka.

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Sri Lankan cuisine , Aliyaa , StarExtra , Food


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