By Udan Fernando –
By now, the readers know my preoccupation with food, beverages and politics (FBP). And, as the name of my column suggests, I am often on the move. I am writing this column from another location, after a day’s travel from Sri Lanka and I must admit that I am have not fully recovered from jet-lag, at the time of writing this column. I am in The Hague where there are a couple of outfits that mete out justice to the rest of the world. In other words, these are the Global Judges, or one would say, Global Cops.
Sri Lanka seems so well-known for maintaining high standards of rule of law and justice. As a result, I was invited by the International ‘Kirimel’ Court in The Hague to teach them how Sri Lankans mete out justice. Great, no? My son said, ‘patta, Thaa’! The Kirimel folks were expecting some formal classroom teaching with a power point presentation followed by a lecture note. But I wanted to try a new pedagogy and said the first lesson would be taught in a kitchen. You know, the Judges are not the most dynamic of species; they remained un-amused by my proposal. But the support staff at the Kirmel Court were indeed supportive of the idea. So they opened the Court’s kitchen for me.
First, I introduced my students to the history of recipes of justeez in Sri Lanka, but soon brought their attention to the contemporary recipe of justeez which is really Pubilis-type, meaning going indigenous and using home-grown stuff like kurakkan, kohila and the like. I did the cookery demonstration while revealing grand-ma’s well kept secrets in Justeez-cooking. Gradually, my students became interested and were even amused. As they said, the proof of the pudding was in the eating. So I allowed the students to taste what I cooked. I waited anxiously, like a master-chef contestant in front of Gordon Ramsay. After all, my students were serious judges, used to indicting people who had committed big crimes. They said, that the taste was very different from the standard justeez dishes they had tried out before, but liked the tropical, spicy and pungent taste of the Sri Lankan dish. I was so relieved. The first lesson was a success. My students left happily, but with a burning after taste in their mouths.
PS: What was missing among the ingredients though, as you may have noticed, was amu-miris, green chilies, which is akin to caviar because only the super rich can afford it in Sri Lanka these days. I brought all other ingredients from Sri Lanka for my cookery demo, but not the green chilies. The distinct taste that made my students experience that pungent sensation was created by aba (mustard). Actually, what I brought was the latest Sri Lankan mustard variety that comes in a saffron-colored pack with the brand name ‘aba-saranayi‘ (අබ-සරණයි) which was tastefully sprinkled in a recent culinary drive in Aluthgama.
The next Justeez Dish I am going to introduce to my students in The Hague is called ‘Kohila-Dhamma‘, a unique gourmet dish innovated by a Chef called More-Haan Pee-Rees, who’s also said to be doing a day job in the Hulftsdorp area. The kirimel folks from The Hague eagerly await my next lesson because Hulftsdorp has a Dutch connection. Gerard Pieterszoon Hulft was the commander in chief when Ceylon was a colony of the Dutch. However, Hulft was killed when he was trying to besiege Colombo. Dorp in Dutch means ‘gama‘, village. So my students anticipate that there’s some home-grown feature in the new dish as well.