Former Fort resident, home cook and retired media agent
My mother, Seniya Noordeen, grew up in the Fort. She enjoyed sharing her recipes and gave cookery classes. These were very popular and so in 1958 she wrote a book called ‘Muslim Cookery’, which is now in its 5th edition. The Fort has special dishes including adukku roti, layers of pancake with a beef filling; curries; an almond sherbet drink; and firiny, a semolina pudding. I really miss my mother’s food. Even her simple biryani was so tasty - the mix of spices was what made it.
She used to make some lovely fish curries including a badau (mullet) curry. The seafood is so fresh in Galle. I couldn’t even think of making that dish in Colombo. It is prepared with aubergine, sweet potato, jackfruit, breadfruit, unripe mango, coconut milk and spices such as cinnamon and mustard seeds. Another Fort specialty is avial. It is a curry made with a mixture of sweet potato, half-ripe papaya, spinach and dried fish. Ground rice and coconut is added which makes the sauce thick and nutritious. It is commonly served with seer fish and a range of sambols.
‘Picnic rice’ is a whole Galle Fort menu. It consists of about 16 dry curries including: beef, chicken, fish, prawns/salted fish, aubergine and ash plantain, potato, mango, fried boiled eggs, fried jackfruit seeds, fried sweet potato pieces and chutney. The picnic would be taken to friends’ houses outside the Fort. There the curries were laid out on a verandah or under the shade of a tree on a large banana leaf. Everyone would sit either side and enjoy the feast!