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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Priyani Ceylon Cafe


Sri Lankan food: I had no idea what to expect when I first tried this cuisine so it turned out to be such a nice surprise. It's somewhat similar to south Indian cuisine in its use of chili, cardamom, cumin, other spices and it has a distinctive taste. My friend invited me to try Priyani for the first time and not knowing what to order we asked the owner to recommend a few dishes. He was gracious enough to explain the menu and help us decide on what we should try. He really lead us in the right direction because from the moment we started eating it was nothing but a burst of flavors. Now I know “burst of flavors" means nothing to you but trying to capture the flavors of this cuisine has been a bit tough so I decided to go back a second time to speak to Priyani, the chef and co-owner and maybe try another dish so it would give me a better feel. Well, you can’t do that because each dish is so complicated with all of its spices that I can recognize some of the flavors but when they are all mixed together you get a very complex and difficult to pin down taste. When speaking with Priyani I asked her to describe the flavors in her food. I could taste Indian influences but I know it's not Indian food. The ingredients are the same but the flavors are different. How did she do this? She said that it’s in the way she combines, toasts and blends her spices that makes it unique. So that’s what they mean by the "love factor." This restaurant has no one else’s flavors and influence but Priyani’s. It’s her taste that we are experiencing and you can’t find this anywhere. It’s her terroir.

For appetizers we had a platter sampler of pattis, rolls, and fish buns. The pattis reminds me of an empanada. The dough was a nice and tender. It was filled with chicken, potatoes and spiced with curry and nutmeg. The rolls reminded me of Chinese eggrolls. They were wrapped in an eggroll wrapper and then battered and fried. Fish buns were similar to a salmon croquette and it had a nice spicy filling.

Lump rice or Lamprais-Dutch influenced: The whole meal comes wrapped up in a fresh banana leaf. Inside there is seemi sambola (caramelized onions) which were nice, sweet and spicy, pol sambola (shrimp paste), yellow banana curry, fish cutlet, chicken curry and deep-fried eggplant sautéed in onions and spices all stuffed in the banana leaf then steamed. This allows the flavors to permeate all through the rice giving you an incredible range of flavors from sweet to spicy with hints of cardamom, cilantro and fresh curry leaves.lumprice2 lumprice

Biryani-Served with chicken, cashew curry, raisins and an egg nestled in the middle of the rice. The technique that goes into making Biryani is what makes this dish. There is a two-part process from marinating the chicken in yogurt and biryani spice mix then adding and cooking it with the rice. Piryani makes this dish to perfection as the chicken is moist and the rice is evenly cooked. It's a wonderful aromatic combination of saffron and herb flavored basmati rice.

Kotthu Roti-This means chopped roti. This is Sri Lankan street-food. Strips of roti are cut and stir fried with vegetables, onions, egg and beef. Piryani says she makes roti daily.

Rice hoppers-First time I’ve ever seen this. The rice hoppers are made daily by hand. The ingredients are rice flour, water and salt.
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Watalapaam-A bread pudding of Malay origin made of coconut milk, brown palm sugar, cashew nuts, rice flour, treacle (Sri Lankan syrup), eggs and various spices including cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg.
Priyani Oriental Cafe
9035 Reseda BlvdNorthridge, CA 91324
(818) 998-6900

Priyani Ceylon Cafe on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

streetgourmetla said...

Hey, this restaurant is a favorite. Wishing I was there right now.