Relishes and pickles

The Malays too have contributed their share to local culinary fare. One such notable contribution is the Sambola, a preparation of grated coconut, onions, chillies, lime juice and salt very often consumed as a relish in Sinhalese homes. This dish could be traced back to the Malay sambal. Another Malay contribution to Sinhalese fare is the pickle known as achcharumade of fruits such as mango, hog plum and wild olive which has its origins in the Malay achar.  Among the sweets of Malay origin that still figure in Sinhalese festivities is the bibikkan, a baked brownish cake made of flour, scraped coconut, sugar and chopped cashewnuts which has originated from the Malay bikang ‘rice flour cake’. Dodol, an oily, dark-brownish sweetmeat made of rice flour, coconut milk and sugar, jaggery or treacle widely prepared in Sinhalese homes likewise has its origins in the Malay sweetmeat of the same name. Another Sinhalese item of Malay origin, though hardly if ever made nowadays is thesinakku which has its origins in the Malay Cheena-kuve ‘Chinese Cake’, apparently because they were prepared in little cups or bowls of Chinese origin.

Among other Muslim groups that have contributed to local culinary fare are the Bohras who were instrumental in introducing a well known item known as godamba rotti, a sort of thin bread made with wheat flour, which is commonly made in local eating houses. J.P Fonseka in his Gourmet’s Guide to Ceylon tells us that “Borahs specialise in godumba roti, a creation of eggs and flour” suggesting that this item was introduced by this group of people. A further embellishment of the godamba rotti is seen in what came to be known as kottu rotti prepared by mixing chopped godamba rotti with a rich mix of vegetables, meat and eggs. This dish too was invented by local Muslims, for commercial purposes to be served in their eating houses. It has today become a very national dish transcending ethnic barriers and has even had Sinhala songs dedicated to it. Such is its popularity.

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