December 2, 2023

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Banana Leaf in East Orlando spices it up with staples of Sri Lankan cuisine | Restaurant Critiques | Orlando

Sri Lanka’s two major ethnic teams — the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils — have lengthy experienced a contentious, violent romance which is observed civil wars and ethnic cleaning woven into the island nation’s brutal historical past. Distinctions in faith, language and politics have pushed a wedge among the two, but food stuff, like it so often does, has performed a unifying function. Or at least experimented with to.

It really is tempting to say that Tamil cuisine has been greatly affected by the flavors of South India (Tamil Nadu in certain) whilst Sinhalese cookery incorporates flavors launched by the Dutch and Portuguese, but that would be an oversimplification.

“Tamil food stuff tends to be on the hotter facet compared to Sinhalese,” claims observed Toronto-primarily based, Sri Lankan-born meals writer Suresh Doss. “But there is a lot more use of roasted spices in Sinhalese cuisine — notably black pepper — and lesser use of oil. You can find a noticeable vibrancy as a consequence of this. That stated, it is really critical to have an understanding of that there is certainly been pretty a bit of osmosis in between the cultures in excess of time.”

That culinary intermingling is on comprehensive show at Banana Leaf in East Orlando, purported to be Florida’s only Sri Lankan restaurant by Nilanga Dassanayake, the affable Sinhalese proprietor of the restaurant. In fact, Sri Lankans from Fort Myers to Fort Pierce to Fort Lauderdale make the push to this cozy South Alafaya Trail place to partake in a buffet ($20.99) that seems certainly lively — red rice, eco-friendly eggplant curry, blue mackerel, yellow potato curry.

On just one weekend pay a visit to, a spicy pork curry sat up coming to a roasted rooster curry with dried pandan leaves. There had been tempered chickpeas, papadums and a jackfruit curry way too. But buffets can be hit-or-pass up, and this 1 fell somewhere in between — the eggplant and jackfruit had been hits, but I am not necessarily generating a a few-hour generate to sample the pork, hen or fish, fantastic although they were.

What I hoped to see was a thick liver fry or a wholly gratifying egg curry of the kind Doss and I not long ago scarfed down with crepe-like coconut hoppers at New Kalyani, a humble minimal eatery in Scarborough. “We’re not giving hoppers just nonetheless,” says Dassanayake. “They choose a lengthy time to make, but we will 1 working day.”

Right up until then, Banana Leaf’s kothu roti ($16.99) is all set for the getting. This looker comes stacked with a generous tossing of chopped-up bits of roti, hen (our selection), scrambled eggs, onions, scallions, leeks, and a host of spices and chilies. Cabbage and carrots lend a wholesome crunch, and it’s easy to see why it is really the most preferred street food stuff in Sri Lanka.

Also superb: a veg roti meal ($11.99) comprising two flaky paratha, creamy daal produced with coconut milk, and seeni sambal, a heady, spicy relish of caramelized onions. Won’t get much much more comforting than that, no make a difference your ethnicity.

The biryani ($15.99) wasn’t anything at all like I expected. Certainly, it really is a rice dish, but it is introduced far more like a ramen bowl, with condiments and sides — pineapple curry, eggplant, cashew curry and fish cutlet ball — placed about the perimeter of the bowl and a fried egg split in fifty percent set above rice. I purchased it with beef ($17.99), which, like the chicken and mutton, are halal. That can make Banana Leaf a draw for a different of Sri Lanka’s ethnic minorities — Muslims.

I tried out the mutton (chewy, fatty) in curry variety ($16.99) on a further check out with pol roti, a rustic flatbread fashioned from flour and shredded coconut, but I are unable to say I was a fan of the dry, biscuity texture. Ghodhamba roti fared a little bit improved. The dough is soaked in oil prior to staying stretched and cooked. On my initially take a look at right here, I spoke to my good friend of the egg roti I enjoyed at New Kalyani — a cook dinner wielding a few of scrapers quickly chopped and tossed a spiced egg mixture right before scooping it all into an huge roti staying griddled subsequent to the egg the roti was then folded and slash into triangular wedges. I nevertheless crave that egg roti, and so I purchased Banana Leaf’s model ($5). The problem: not plenty of egg mixture in the roti (of course, I know about the price tag of eggs these days) and portions of the roti have been much too thick, and undercooked.

Continue to, there is certainly pretty a little bit far more on the menu I’d like to check out in this article, like the black pork curry ($15.99) designed from black pepper, toasted coconut and roasted curry powder, and dried sprats ($15.99) fried in tomatoes and onions.

Greek yogurt with a drizzle of palm treacle built a completely satisfactory ending from the buffet, especially with sips of arrack ($10), a Sri Lankan spirit distilled from the fermented sap of coconut bouquets. Not to be outdone, Dassanayake arrived by and played up an ending identified as “appreciate cake” ($5). “It normally takes 3 hours to make and it can be the only matter I you should not share,” he states.

I am a sucker for a fantastic sales pitch, and I was bought. And the really like cake, with its honey, semolina, egg whites and cashews? A great deal like the menu, it was a several-splendored point.

Locale Information

Banana Leaf

2504 S. Alafaya Trail, Orlando East


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