Halal status: Halal
At the Eid Milan event last Sunday organized by Dishoom, I finally get to try out this Sri Lankan stall called Kothu Kothu.
In a nutshell, Kothu Kothu means chop chop and they serve this signature street food dish called Kothu Roti (translated as Chopped Roti in Tamil). It is said to be the most popular street food in Colombo, Sri Lanka and is not only famous for its taste but also for its unique and theatrical preparation. That being said, the stall of course showcases the cooking process at the front of the stall. There’s a heated iron griddle where the ingredients (roti, vegetables, eggs and/or meat) are being cut and mixed using two metal blades. It is said that since distinctive sounds are created through the quick and repeated striking of metal blades on the hot metal griddle, the whole action is thus often done to the beat of music to add an even more theatrical element to it.
There was a huge queue in front of the stall that afternoon. After a pretty long wait, we’ve finally reach the front of the stall and ordered ourselves a portion of Mutton Kothu to share.
They make the base (roti, vegetables and eggs) in a large batch and just keep taking out a portion from there to toss with your desired topping (mutton/chicken/vegetables) on the iron griddle.
The preparation process reminds me of a Japanese teppanyaki – I mean the concept of a theatrical preparation on an iron griddle is pretty much similar between the two. The difference is the chopping part and Kothu is obviously more street style while teppanyaki is more on the sophisticated side.
In a few quick and swift tosses, the Mutton Kothu is served into a box and you can top it off yourself with yoghurt, chilli, pickled chilli and lime.
At the beginning we only put very little yoghurt so we find it lacking a bit of moisture and even slightly bland. We went back to get more yoghurt, lime, and pickled chilli – then that’s when the magic happened.
The way I’ll describe this dish is that it is a true taste of the streets. It carries a rustic charm and has a mild hint of spices dancing on your tongue. I personally feel that it needed an extra kick of heat and acidity to properly enhance and bring out those flavours but once the flavours are out there it’s absolutely on a different level.
All the ingredients are really simple so it’s really the spices being the star of the dish. It’s so simple but it’s filling and satisfying. To a certain extent, through my Cantonese perspective, it’s almost like a stir-fry but instead of noodles in a chow mein, roti is being used which adds much more flavours and richness to the dish as well as having more exotic spices involved.
To sum it up, it’s my first time trying this spectacular Sri Lankan street food (or anything Sri Lankan to be honest!) and it has definitely left a great impression on me. It’s like a marriage of multiple cultures – in particular one between Indian spices and Eastern Asian flavours. Big love!
My Rating: 4/5
P.S. They now have a shop at BOXPARK Croydon! (Address: Boxpark, 99 George Street, Croydon CR0 1LN)