Running in the Family – A Sinhalese meal

We are having a formal dinner. String hoppers, meat curry, egg rulang, papadams, potato curry. Alice’s date chutney, seeni sambol, mallung and brinjals and iced water. All the dishes are on the table and a good part of the meal is spent passing them around to each other. It is my favorite meal – anything that has string hoppers and egg rulang I eat with a lascivious hunger. For dessert there is buffalo curd and jaggery sauce – a sweet honey made from coconut, like maple syrup but with a smokey taste. – Ondaatje

For my last Running in the Family post, I wanted to explore Sinhalese food since I truthfully didn’t recognize half the foods in the above passage.

While hoppers are like thin, crispy pancakes of rice flour and coconut milk made in a bowl-shape (which look really incredibly delicious), string hoppers or idyyappam are steamed and springy in texture. Their name is fairly evident once you’ve compared the two types of hoppers.


Egg rulang is a scramble of eggs and sliced onions. Papadums I have actually had before but never learned the name of! They are thin and disc-shaped, typically made from a black gram flour or a variety of other materials like lentil, chickpea, or rice flours. A typical variety I’ve had include ground black pepper and garlic.

Now, I’m not sure what Alice’s date chutney is like, but this chutney recipe is sweet and tangy with ginger and red chili spices.


Seeni sambol is a sweet caramelized onion relish that, like what I’ve been learning about Sri Lankan food, comes with a punch of spices.

Mallung, also called mallum, is a dry dish of cooked chopped greens and coconut. One version with kale is shown below. Brinjals are what we know as eggplants!

Finally for dessert, a buffalo curd with jaggery sauce is like a yogurt and honey mix.

Here is an excellent introductory article to Sri Lankan food. More egg hoppers! They look so good.

The Girls from Corona del Mar – A Fictitious Meal

As the last post in my series exploring the world of The Girls from Corona del Mar, I thought it would be nice to look into a topic me and Jessica both like very much: food.

“You should see how she cooks the chicken,” Franklin said. “She rubs it with cinnamon and all these crazy spices – unbelievable.”

Mia prepares a full chicken, a salad, and couscous. To recreate the meal I would do the following. (Full disclaimer I am not good at cooking things or taking pictures, so the pictures are from various sites, which are linked at the end.)


Roast Chicken 

For the spice blend, combine (roughly) the following ratios of the ground spices and then finish with a little salt and crushed black pepper.

  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp saffron
  • 1/4 tsp cloves

For the roasting part, we would follow the Thomas Keller method! It is simple and results in a deliciously crispy skin with tender meat.

Let the chicken come to room temp and make sure it is dry (ie do not wash). Pat down the chicken with paper towels on the outside and inside to make sure there is no moisture. The lack of liquid is an integral part of the method! Moisture leads to steam leads to a less crispy skin and a drier meat. So no other veggies, no lemon slices, no juices, nothing!

Sprinkle the cavity of the chicken with some of the spice blend. Preheat the oven to 450 F, and truss that sucker! Finally, rub the chicken down with as much of the spice blend as wanted. Place it breast up on a roasting rack (over a pan) in the oven and roast for an hour or once the internal temperature reaches 165 F.


Ok, so not the recipe I describe below, but a nice picture of couscous with roasted cauliflower


Bring water or chicken broth to a boil. Add a pinch of salt, a tablespoon of olive oil, and a quarter cup of diced dried dates and the couscous. Cover the pot, remove from heat, and let it stand. Add sliced and pitted green olives and fresh mint.



Thorpe describes the salad as simple with radishes, onions, and parsley. I think to balance the meal and make sure the flavors of the chicken are the star of the meal, a simple salad is a good choice. Combine the following and then dress lightly with olive oil and something with a little acidity. A lot of recipes recommend a white wine vinegar, but I like the combination of olive oil and lemon juice the best. Finish with freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste.

  • As many cucumbers as you like, sliced
  • 2 cups sliced radishes
  • 1 cup sliced red onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup whole leaf or chopped parsley
  • optional: add feta (which I personally add to really almost anything)

Chicken picture link
Couscous picture link
Radish picture (but not recipe) link