One of Sri Lanka’s most typical dishes, and perhaps my favorite, is kottu. Combining rotti bread, veggies, a variety of spices and (optionally) egg, cheese or chicken, it’s one of the country’s few specialties in which rice plays no role. And the best part is, you don’t ever have to look for a restaurant which serves kottu … just listen.
The first time I heard the sounds of Kottu being prepared, I instantly thought “flamenco”. Perhaps it’s the result of too much time in Spain, but I had the faint hope that upon turning the corner, I’d see a flamboyantly-dressed gypsy dancer stomping his staccato rhythm out onto the pavement. But it was nothing like that. Just a dude chopping up bread and veggies. Still, it’s a great beat, and I found myself unconsciously tocando las palmas and occasionally muttering “¡Vale!“
The preparation of kottu is quite a spectacle, and the resulting creation is invariably delicious. Well, I suppose not invariably: please, don’t ever order chicken kottu. For reasons that elude the most basic understanding of human logic, many restaurants don’t bother to debone the chicken before sending it to the cleaver-weilding chopper. Resulting in a meal full of thousands of chicken-bone shards. Yum!