I’d been reading up on Sri Lankan cuisine when I came across a dish called lumprais (or lamprais), a banana leaf wrapped parcel of rice cooked in stock, with curries and cutlets included. The word is supposed to have originated from the Dutch lamprijst, meaning ‘packet of rice’ and I could only imagine how all those flavours melded after being baked together in that parcel. Needless to say, I became a bit obsessed with it and to my delight, I discovered that a Sri Lankan restaurant in west London (Northfields, specifically) served it.
Here was their lumprais (£14). Now, there are set rules as to what a lumprais must contain and whilst this one broke all the rules, it was still delicious – here everything was served on a banana leaf instead of being baked within it. As well, not all the components were present but was included was fantastic. There was the rice cooked in stock and embedded in that mound of rice was a fish cutlet. There was a rich and robust mutton curry and a ‘special’ aubergine curry that was all silky and tangy and seeni sambol, a luscious sambol of caramelised onions, dried fish and spices.
To round out our dinner that night, we also had a couple other dishes to eat with it. Devilled chicken (£7.50) was a delicious dry chicken stir fry with lots of pepper and spice, onions, peppers and tomatoes.
Dhal spinach (£5) was a chef’s recommendation and was a soothing combination of dal cooked with fresh spinach leaves.
To eat with it all? One plain hopper (£2) and an egg hopper (£3). I love the crispy edges and soft centres of hoppers, and their slightly fermented flavour reminded us a bit of Ethiopian injera. And yes, that egg on the right hand side had a beautifully liquid yolk.
I couldn’t resist the vattilappam (£5) on the dessert menu. We’d tried this already at the Buddhist temple dinners and this version was equally as good – it’s a creamy set pudding of coconut milk, brown palm sugar, eggs, spices and cashew nuts.
I can’t believe I didn’t discover this place sooner as it has always been here in West London near where I live! I do suspect that the heat levels had been toned down for us (us loser non-Sri Lankans!) but I’m sure you could get true Sri Lankan heat in your meal if you ask!
161 Northfield Avenue
London W13 9QT