The Time Out Sri Lanka blog

Your guide to island life, news, culture and everything in-between
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Seeni Sambola
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Restaurants, South Asian

For the love of “Sambola”!

If Sri Lankans were asked to name a condiment they cannot part with, without a doubt it would be “Sambola”. Anglicised to English as ‘Sambol’, this preparation has permeated through Sri Lankan cuisine, popping up as a side dish that enhances every meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner, and even as an accompaniment for snacks and street food. A sambol is typically a relish where chopped and ground ingredients are mixed or blended together. While the recipe remains largely unchanged, from kitchen to kitchen, the ratios of the ingredients would change according to personal preference. Pol Sambola maybe the celebrity amongst the family of sambola that are a part of Sri Lankan cuisine, yet there many different types of sambola in the island. Sri Lankans love to flaunt their spices, and the delicious sambola provides ample opportunity to do so. Be warned, unless specified otherwise, sambola can at times be spicy enough to set your mouth on fire! Pol Sambola The ‘Coconut Sambol’ is the most popular and has even received international fame. Loved by everyone regardless of their age, ethnicity or social background, it is a must have when travelling across Sri Lanka. It is a mixture of scraped coconut, red chillies, chilli powder, chopped onions, grated Maldive fish, salt and lime. Even these ingredients are not set in stone. Some substitute tamarind for lime, which adds a blend of sweet and sour to the sambol. Others insist on adding a pinch of black pepper, upgrading the already

House of Fashions, Colombo 4
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News, Shopping & Style

House of Fashions is back on Duplication Road!

One of the foremost shopping destinations in Sri Lanka, House of Fashions once again opened their former store located on Duplication Road, Colombo 4, fulfilling overwhelming requests from their customers. The spacious House of Fashions provides a uniqe shopping experience to its customers. Preethi and Neelamani Jayawardana decided to open their second location, co-incidentally their previous store, on Duplication Road, Colombo 4, due to the overwhelming requests from loyal customers who missed the convenience and proximity of the store. “Once we opened the House of Fashions Mall in Borella, we were happy and we had no intention of opening another. Otherwise, we would not have closed this building for four years. Our customers requested from us repeatedly and thus we decided to reopen”, explained the dynamic duo. Maintaining the familiarity of the store, minimum changes were done.   Neelamani and Preethi Jayawardana, Founders of House of Fashions ©BT Images   The ground floor is dedicated to household items such as linens, towels, pillows, kitchen utensils and other items. The open space floor also features a tea corner with a fine selection of Ceylon Tea, a range of Sri Lanka spices, coconut products and souvenir t-shirts. The elegant spiral staircase takes customers to the first floor ladies wear collection. The section displays pants, trousers, skirts, dresses, blouses, t-shirts, nightwear and office wear in a variety of designs, colours and sizes. ©BT Image

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The day's catch at Lellama
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News, Weird & Wonderful

The day’s catch at Lellama

Lellama is where throngs of fishermen in Negombo have been engaging in the fishing trade for years. In the early morning hours, the area is usually bustling with hundreds of fishermen unloading their boats. The market reflects a painting coming to life, as buyers and sellers hustle to get the freshest catch for the best price. The quick movements of unloading the boats and hauling in the catch in the brisk twilight hours will leave one awe-struck. Piles and piles of freshly caught fish laid on the sand will grab one’s attention. The entire process unfolds in sequence similar to a drama. Fishermen unload the nets in a rhythmic pace and fill the cane baskets. These are then taken to the stalls where they are displayed with pride. Buyers surround the stalls, and bargaining takes place in high pitch volumes.  Walking farther through Lellama, one can witness rows and rows of neatly displayed fish, their plump silvery bodies glimmering under the dim lights. From the Yellow Fin Tuna to Saalayo (Goldstripe Sardinella), to Hurullo (Trenched Sardinella), Red Snappers and thick cuts of Thalapath (Indo-Pacific sailfish) are displayed. Lobsters, squid, mud crabs, jumbo prawns and ribbonfish, entice an attractive price. From the stalls, one can glimpse vistas of the tranquil Negombo Lagoon, with its quiet waters often disturbed by the frequent sails of boats, setting off to embark on another day’s hard work. There is also a vibrant line-up of boats docked near the lagoon.    The Negom

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News, Events & Festivals

Things to do for the avid cricket enthusiast

The England tour of Sri Lanka once again brings the excitement of cricket to the island with five ODIs, three Tests and a T20. While flocking to the stadiums to cheer on the Lions, don’t forget to check out the manifold attractions that are waiting to be discovered in the area. Dambulla Visitors never fail to be amazed by the amount of history that surrounds the city of Dambulla. Famed for its rock cave temple and beautiful scenery, Dambulla is a popular destination for tourists. Its proximity to the iconic Sigiriya Rock Fortress is also another reason to visit the city, and many tourists are eager to make a combined tour of Dambulla and Sigiriya. ©BT Images Cave Temple The Royal Rock Temple complex contains five separate caves that feature stunning Buddhist statues and paintings. Considered to be some of the most evocative Buddhist arts in Sri Lanka, the images are several centuries old. It is said that King Valagamba of Anuradhapura took refuge in the caves during the 1st century BC when the Chola invaded the island. Once he regained his throne, he converted the caves into a Temple, and over the centuries, later kings subsequently added more paintings. King Nissanka Malla had the cave interiors gilded, thus giving it the name Ran Giri (Golden Rock). From here, you can get superb views of the region and the Sigiriya rock. Golden Temple The Golden Temple sits at the foot of the cave temples. The modern structure is built in the shape of a cube. A golden statue of B

Winner Lesitha Prabath flanked by first runner-up Praneeth Sandaruwan (left), second runner-up Asanka Waduga (right) and third runner-up Nadeen Sampath (far right)
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Things to do, Sport events

1st National Surfing Championship

Words- Udeshi Amarasinghe                  Photographs- Mahesh Bandara and Menaka Aravinda There was excitement in the air as the crowds gathered on the beach. As the waves rolled in with surfers completing their ride, loud cheers erupted. The first National Surfing Championship was gathering momentum in Arugambay! THE first National Surfing Championship to be held for Sri Lankan surfers, the competition provided an opportunity for contestants from around the country to participate in a profes-sional level competition. Organised by the Surf- ing Federation of Sri Lanka, the championship was supported by various establishments in Arugambay, all coming together to encourage Sri Lankan surfers to reach their potential. Following the completion of the competition, a Sri Lankan national team will be formed where focused training as well as participation in competitions will provide the experience and expertise for the team to perform internationally. With surfing being introduced for the first time to the Olympics in 2020, this provides an impetus for Sri Lanka to form a national team consisting of both men and women. A unique aspect of the National Surfing Championship in Arugambay was the pres- ence of young Sri Lankan women surfers, who though did not participate in the competition itself, were present to provide their support for this endeavour. The crowds included both Sri Lankan and nationals from various countries all coming together to give their enc

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News, Events & Festivals

Oktoberfest in Sri Lanka

Can you pass the Brezeln– pretzels please? The celebrations of Wiesn, most commonly known as Oktoberfest, takes us to the world- famous European beer festival and travelling fun fair. Held throughout Germany, it has been a significant part of Bavarian culture since 1810. Celebrating custom, traditions and the love for merriment, the much-anticipated event is revelled by both locals and tourist alike with a variety of traditional delicacies, numerous attractions such as amusement rides, side stalls and games. It’s also the time for enthusiastic beer chugging. Today, Oktoberfest festivities have spread all around the world. In fact, even on the sunny island of Sri Lanka, Oktoberfest has become a yearly ritual. The celebrations treat everyone on the island to an amazing extravaganza of Bavarian-themed cuisine, music and dance with many hotels re-creating the spirit and traditions of the original Oktoberfest.  Serving special brews and authentic German staples such as as bratwurst, schnitzels and sauerkraut, the entertainment that you are sure to enjoy throughout the night may vary from activities such as the Chicken Dance to brew competitions as well as music from Bavarian bands and other traditional services. It is quite a joyous occasion; full of good food, drinks and cheer. As the Germans say, “Prost- Cheers” to an Oktoberfest with a Sri Lankan twist to keep you hyped up all night! Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi hoi hoi! See ‘October Shenanigans’ for Oktoberfest events i

News, Weird & Wonderful

A Spooktacular Night in Sri Lanka

When the moon awakens and the black cats are seen, may luck be yours this Halloween. All Hallows’ Eve is celebrated annually across the world on October 31. The tales of old connect these festivities to the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain, a festival that marked the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter. As the occasion was believed to be the bridge to the world of the dead, villagers would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts and evil spirits. Evolving into a popular expressive culture, today Halloween embraces the making of decorations, jack-o-lanterns and displaying fruits and vegetables, harvest figures, paper witches and skeletons around homes. Masquerading around the streets in all sorts of fun, chilling costumes; trick-or-treating is followed by all-night parties. The day is not complete without an abundance of candy. Although Halloween is not a traditional holiday for the island of Sri Lanka, there are many things to do on the eve of October 31. Halloween themed night outs and parties with all-night DJs as well as amazing deals on food and drinks make this spooky night quite unlike any other. Restaurants and hotels may also feature exclusive Halloween inspired dishes on their menus. There is sure to share a blur of activities including the traditional apple bobbing Halloween game. Visit stores that cater to finding a wild bunch of accessories to invent that perfect look of disguise. Halloween party photo booths and prizes for the scari

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News, Weird & Wonderful

Regal Waterfalls of the Hill Country

As you drive along the roads of the Hill Country in Sri Lanka, through the trees, you begin to spy long plumes of white frothy water off in the distance, cascading down from great heights, only to plunge into wide rivers or deep pools. Waterfalls have an untamed beauty that draws the attention of both the young and the old. A trek through the surrounding greenery can take you closer to the stunning site, where a cool mist will envelop you. The thundering roar of a waterfall provides a stimulating soundtrack if you want to dive into the refreshing water of the river fed by the water carried in the fall. In the monsoon season, the waterfalls of Sri Lanka are a sight to behold, due to the additional water volume. While the dry season can reduce the volume of water, the torrent of ceaseless water can awe visitors with their sheer beauty. Sri Lanka has numerous waterfalls of all size and shape; from tall waterfalls that fall in one unrelenting line to small-scale waterfalls that contain several levels. Discover the power of a waterfall and be amazed by the experience. Bambarakanda Falls Plunging from a height of 863 ft, the Bambarakanda Falls has the honour of being the tallest waterfall in Sri Lanka. The falls can be seen through the pine trees between Belihul Oya and Haputale. From a distance, it appears as one uninterrupted white ribbon that stretches from the skies to the ground. Diyaluma Falls The second highest waterfall in the country Diyaluma is found in the Badul

A day in Galle
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News, Transport & Travel

A day in Galle…

This Southern coastal town features sunny beaches, museums, historic sites, shopping destinations and delectable cuisine. Both Sri Lankan and international tourists flock to Galle simply to soak in its laidback ambience. Perfect for a weekend getaway, Galle has a wealth of cultural marvels for the tourist to indulge. The city had a thriving hub for commercial trade even before the Dutch Era and has a fantastic story that visitors can unravel while exploring the city and all its wonders.  Galle Fort The UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated overlooking the Indian Ocean is one of the most popular destinations in Galle, and draws a large number of tourists. The houses within the fort has been converted into chic boutique shops, colourful art galleries, antique shops and restaurants. A walk along the inner streets of the fort always brings you to trendy shops or cafés. ©BT Images The lighthouse The lighthouse within the fortress is a steady structure that has been a part of the site through the decades guiding the sailors ashore. The Maritime Archaeology Museum Located within the Galle Fort, the museum offers amazing insights into the Sri Lankan maritime traditions through the years. Galle National Museum Known to be constructed in 1656, the museum displays an array of archaeological and anthropological objects. This includes the ancient carvings, Beeralu collection, objects reflecting the influence of the Dutch such as large water vessels, VOC porcelain objects

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