Colombo has its fair share of Indian Vegetarian restaurants with their own unique attributes that sets them apart, allowing them to attract and enjoy a loyal customer base. But none is more notable for its authentic Indian flavours and a wide range of loyal customers than Sri Vihar.
One Monday afternoon, the Meatless Monday Sri Lanka team had a hankering for Indian cuisine, and we decided to visit Sri Vihar for lunch.
As usual, the lunch hour was in full swing with the restaurant being packed.
We were a hungry bunch that day so we ordered big. The Sri Vihar menu is expansive with a wide range of Indian dishes from both ends of India. They have breakfast, lunch and dinner services. We ordered Butter Naan with Mushroom Chattinad, Stuffed Parata, Pulak, Paneer Pulav, Channa Buttura and a North Indian Thali.
We ordered the mushroom chattinad (Rs.440) to have with the butter naan (Rs.130). The chattinad was button mushroom that was cooked with a spicy brown sauce. The spices gave the mushrooms a meaty texture which went well with the hot buttery naan and the pulak. The pulak (Rs.110) was a rotti made of atta flour that was very light and not at all oily.
We were curious when we saw the stuffed parata (Rs.170) on the menu, and we ordered it with high hopes. But it was a let down in terms of flavour. The parata was stuffed with pieces of carrots, beans and potatoes and brushed with butter on top. The stuffing wasn’t well seasoned and it lacked flavour while the dough was thick and bland.
The Battura (Rs.240) is like a huge puri. It’s like a balloon all puffed while it’s still hot but as soon as it starts to cool, the batura deflated. But the seasoning and flavours were on point. The dough was crispy and thin with a nice crunch even when it was cooling. The Batura came with a Channa Masala dish that was extremely tasty and paired well together. The masala was spicy with the tangy sweet flavour of the tomatoes giving it a nice flavour profile. The chickpeas were cooked really well so that it melts in your mouth.
The Paneer Pulav (Rs.340) was a nice addition to our order. The dish is long basmati rice cooked with aromatic spices and full of paneer and other vegetables. The dish was full of paneer pieces along with cashews, raisins that gave it an interesting bite. The Pulav was accompanied by a potato and bean yellow curry. The curry was tasty on its own but I felt that the Pulav didn’t really need the curry. The flavour of the Pulav was so wholesome that I could devour it alone.
We also ordered a North Indian Thali (Rs.400) since we once tried the South Indian Thali from Vasantha Bhavan. The Thali came with a generous bowl of rice and an array of small dishes, a piece of papadam and a Chapathi roti on the side. The proper way to eat a Thali is to dump the rice on top of the banana leaf that comes on top of the tray and mix and match with all the different small curries that come with it. This Thali had ash plantain curry, an Indian vegetable kurma, a paneer butter masala, fried mushroom, a mixed sambar (a delicious soup like dish made with lentils and other vegetables) a fresh tomato and onion salad, rasam, a sweetened curd, and a sweet sago soup for dessert. The Thali is a meal of its own with dessert and a rasam to settle your stomach, which was extremely filling and satisfying.
For drinks we ordered a Mango lassi, masala teas and plain teas. The lassi (Rs.160) was very filling and refreshing. It had a nice subtle mango flavour seeping through and not too sweet which was nice. The Masala teas (Rs.80) were so aromatic that you can smell all the condiments inside the tea while on its way to the table.
Sri Vihar is well known for its good food for affordable prices. And we were not disappointed when we say the bill. We were a group of 4 hungry people and after ordering generously plus drinks, our bill only came to a total of 2500 rupees!
The service was quick with our food coming within 10 minutes of ordering it. The waiting staff was efficient and very helpful even when we asked them a dozen questions about the menu.
So if you are in the hunt for a good lunch service that is affordable and cruelty-free, Sri Vihar is a definite favourite with a thumps up from the Meatless Monday Sri Lanka team!
Location – No 3, Sri Sambuddhata jayanthi Mawatha, Colombo 05
Telephone – 011-2596597