A food journey at Yaal – 30, Sea View Avenue, Colombo 3

Located in Marine Drive, overlooking the coastal railway line and the sea, MB Yaal as its name suggests is all about the cuisine found in the northern part of Sri Lanka. Wanting to try some authentic Jaffna food, Thadhsa, Ramesh and I headed to partake our afternoon sustenance aka lunch. The scorching heat outside left us wilted and we were quick to order our drinks of watermelon and mango. 

It is interesting to note that while Yaal is named after Jaffna, there are quite number of dishes on the menu that are not limited to Jaffna. The menu had a variety of pittu, parottas, kotthu roti and idiyappam (String hoppers) to be teamed up with various curries. Unfortunately for us, almost all of them were available exclusively for dinner. (bummer) We have to warn you that Yaal has a massive number of meat dishes, but they do have some traditional Sri Lankan curries such as dhal, potato and garlic which makes it open for vegan and vegetarians. 

Now for our food order. Thadsha went for a vegetable fried rice while Ramesh and I opted for two vegetarian meals – one with samba rice and the other with Basmathi. Served in a thali, which consists of one large silver plate with curries in its own little silver cup, the rice served on a to a banana leaf The thaali also contained a rasam (a spice induced soup) and a sweet sago pudding made with coconut milk .  Thadsha who hails from Jaffna said that unlike in the Sinhala tradition where all our curries are served over our rice, the Hindus serve it this way so that each curry can be savoured either individually or mixed up together to suit each unique palate. Dhal, ash plantains, deep fried okra (ladies’ fingers) curry and greens were the curries served with the traditional papadam and crunchy deep fried red chillie. Sounds simple enough, but it was really truly yummy. Adding the rasam to the rice further enhanced the flavours. Nothing was left behind. 

The Vegetable fried rice came with a gravy and it was both flavourful and aromatic and while it might not be authentic Jaffna cuisine, it goes to show how food transcends over culture, people and distance. The different cuisines under one roof and on one table is a true indication of the diverse yet integrated society we live in. We loved it. 

As usual I wanted dessert and opted for the fresh fruit salad. It was a mix of banana, papaya and pineapple and frankly I have had better. While it was freshly made, the fruits tasted washed out with little or almost no flavour. Clearly time to change the fruit vendor. 

Still, we enjoyed our visit to Yaal and it was lovely watching the waves glistening and the occasional train whizzing past us. We recommend you to come in the night though, to enjoy the full range of their cuisine. We hope to do so too.

Until next time. TTFN