Military cooks discover Sri Lankin cuisine

Photo by S1 Mike Goluboff, MARPAC Imaging Services

Photo by S1 Mike Goluboff, MARPAC Imaging Services

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

Military cooks received a tasty tutorial by a former DND civilian employee turned cookbook author last week in the Wardroom kitchen.

With her cookbook Milk, Spice and Curry Leaves: Hill Country Recipes from the Heart of Sri Lanka in hand, Ruwan Samarakoon-Amunugama demonstrated how to make traditional Sri Lankan dishes.

“When I decided upon the recipes of curry chicken, yellow rice, and beet root curry, I wanted to have something that chefs could easily prepare whether they were on land or in a ship,” said Samarakoon-Amunugama.

Her culinary tutorial was part of a week-long foodie event that promoted Food Diversity Week through different cultural fare.

Her instruction introduced the cooks to the pillars of the island nation’s cuisine: coconut milk, rice, and spice, including roasted curry powder.

MS Ryan Eves attended the class and was impressed by the flavour profile.

“When she was finished instructing and cooking everyone got to sample the food. It tasted completely different than the seasonings and spices in curries any of us had tried before,” said MS Eves. “I think that adding Sri Lankan cuisine to our menu is a welcome change for our chefs and will provide a morale boost for our regular customers who are looking to try something different.”

Her cookbook features 60 of her favourite family recipes.

The recipes were inherited from her mother and passed down by her grandmother.

“One unique aspect of Sri Lankan curry is they have a dark roasted curry power that is very different than the curries you will find in India. It is one of the main ingredients that makes our cuisine unique because it’s aromatic and has complex flavours.”

Samarakoon-Amunugama spent 10 years at DND as a senior communications advisor at a Public Affairs Office in Vancouver between 2009 and 2018. She worked with MARPAC on diversity initiatives such as the Advisory Council on Diversity to Joint Task Force (Pacific).

“MARPAC is very dedicated to the concept of diversity initiatives and the idea of me presenting a cooking lesson to the navy arose,” said Samarakoon-Amunugama. “It seemed to me like an exciting opportunity for base and fleet chefs to learn and experience new cuisine and add it to their menus.”

Her cookbook is available for purchase on Amazon.


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