Dish It Out: Sanduni Karunarathna

Jun 08 2022. views 544

How do our food experts cook and eat? This week, food blogger @flavorsofadiva – Sanduni, takes our Q&A!

Your first memory of cooking?
I was doing O/L’s back in 2011 and my mom was sick and didn’t have any appetite to cook or even to eat. She asked me whether I can cook for her and I made dried sprats curry and a lentil curry. I didn’t know how to cook, but she guided me through the entire process. Even though I’m sure it didn’t go well, she said it was tasty! 

You love your spicy food - what’s the spiciest food you’ve made? 
Oh, the spiciest? That would be a Kochchi Sambal. But it’s a Carolina Reaper Kochchi Sambal. Carolina Reaper is the hottest pepper in the world and I’d say that it did not go well for me or my husband after eating that. But I hope to grow a plant of Carolina Reaper this summer, just for fun!

Your favourite childhood meal? 
Chicken fried rice. Not just normal chicken fried rice, but it is from a special restaurant near our house. We call it the “Kandila” and to this day not a single fried rice has surpassed the taste of that fried rice.

What are your favourite leftovers to work with?
That would be a “Kawalam Maluwa.” I simply love it. I got this recipe from my mother-in-law. But my father-in-law is the original cook behind this recipe and he makes the best “Kawalam Maluwa” in the world.

Dead or alive, who would be your dream dinner-party guests to cook for? 
My parents, especially since they are in Sri Lanka right now. Not only my parents but my in-laws as well. I would make my go-to menu - yellow rice, fried brinjal curry, fish cutlets, creamy cashew curry, tempered potatoes, and green beans curry with black chicken curry and papadam.

Easiest meal you would whip up to impress someone?
Nasi-Goreng. I make a mean Nasi-Goreng which goes well with a sunny-side-up egg and chillie paste.

What’s a dish you’ve perfected?
Tempered Dried Fish. I think I mastered that dish because both my mom and my mother-in-law asked me for the recipe which means a lot to me. After all, they are the people who I look up to the most!

What’s a dish you’d never forget eating for the first time? 
It was a prawn dish called “Sizzling Shrimp” which I had from a restaurant called “The Keg” here in Winnipeg. I still remember the taste and it was so, so good.

Your favourite fool-proof recipe you can share with confidence? 
My fruit pudding. You cannot go wrong with it. Even if you somehow mess up the quantities you can simply enjoy it as it is. I prefer making it with strawberries, mango, and pineapple. Also, you can add some nuts like almond nuts for extra flavour.

Make something savoury or make something sweet?
Definitely savoury. I love spicy dishes. I think I get that gene from my dad. He loves eating spicy food. He even eats raw ghost pepper with rice and curry. I mean, RAW ghost pepper!!

Your favourite recipe that has been passed down to you from family?
My mom’s fish cutlets recipe. It is a family recipe I got from my mom and everyone is a fan of that recipe and they are always asking for more. 

Your favourite go-to recipe person?
That would be my mom and my mother-in-law. They both are amazing cooks.

What’s the secret to a yummy banana leaf-wrapped lunch? 
I would say the combos. You will have to match the curries well to get the best out of a banana leaf-wrapped lunch.

What should not be missing in your kitchen? 
I would say the food processor. OMG, it makes my life a whole lot easier.

The toughest dish to master but worth the effort?
There is only one answer to that -  “KONDA KAVUM”. I managed to get it done correctly the first time. I think the secret to being successful is the patience I had while making these.

Your favourite comfort food after a long day?
That would be some Chinese rolls with some ginger tea. I simply love that combination.

What’s something you miss from Sri Lanka?
I would say “Kanda Kola” because I searched everywhere for that when I was making “Wandu Appa”. But I could not find it anywhere and ended up using Banana Leaf for Wandu Appa.

When you come back to Sri Lanka, the first thing you want to eat?
KOTTU, to be more specific, Chicken Kottu.



Panchali Illankoon

Law Graduate, food and travel enthusiast and full time dog mom..


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