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Sri Lanka food festival in 17-year mission to bring Jaffna closer to Colombo

ECONOMYNEXT – A food festival featuring cuisine from Sri Lanka’s Jaffna peninsula which was started during Sri Lanka’s civil war by Ramada Colombo hotel, is continuing its mission of bringing communities together, organizers said.

Ramada Colombo started the Jaffna food festival, or ‘Yaal Virindu’ when few people in the north or south had access to each other due to a civil war.

“Yaal Virindu was started in 2002 when the war was still going on, the A9 was closed and people in the South had no access to the north,” Marketing Manager of Ramada Colombo Nishan Seneviratne said.

“Therefore the idea was to bring the food and flavours of Jaffna to Colombo for all of us to enjoy.”

Though influenced by South India, many Jaffna dishes have a distinctive flavor.

Most dishes are prepared using odiyal flour, tamarind, a special curry powder using kochchi miris and other ingredients found in the region and is generally very spicy

“Jaffna Cuisine is very distinct and different to the food native to the southern part of the island. The flavours and preparation vary a great deal,” said chef Niranjan Samarakkody said.

Iconic dishes include Odiyal Kool Soup (a seafood and vegetable broth), fiery crab curry or ‘Nandu sodhi and ‘Pal appam’ or milk hoppers.

Chefs from Jaffna come to Colombo for the festival which is held from September 05 to 15 every year.

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“As one of the first hotels in Colombo to introduce the Jaffna Food Festival, Ramada Colombo’s Yaal Virindu has, over the years developed the reputation as providing the city’s most authentic dining experience,” says General Manager Wasim Cader.