The ambience was priceless: an art arcade abounding with attenuate Asian antiques. The ambition was worthy: to accession funds for a Sri Lankan Buddhist temple in Los Angeles.
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And the food–a superb advance of curries and rice–was as accurate as if you were bistro in Sri Lanka itself.
The guests of honor, orange-robed monks from the Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara, sat in a row on a advanced platform, captivation approach blade fans.
Just as some gatherings alpha with a adoration or the adage of grace, this one started with a absolution from the temple abbot, Venerable Walpola Piyananda. The monks again chanted in Pali, the age-old accent announced by the Buddha. And they unreeled abundant adored cilia to ability about the room, bond the 150 guests at the afresh opened Silk Roads Design Arcade endemic by Cari and Jon Markell, who generally abutment Asian causes and came up with the abstraction for the fundraiser.
The monks adapted vegetarian dishes for the affair in their Crenshaw Boulevard temple kitchen and brought them to the La Brea Avenue gallery. Sri Lankans who adoration at the temple supplied added aliment and lined up abaft the cafe to serve it. Fat blooming bananas from a temple timberline busy the table, forth with flowers and sprigs of the herbs mukunuwenna and gotukola, developed by the monks, and an adjustment of lentils and Sri Lankan unpolished red rice in a vintage, hand-painted basin from Pakistan.
Rice and back-scratch may complete like a two-dish dinner, but in Sri Lanka, it agency a accomplished spread–lentils, vegetables and sambols (spicy relishes) as able-bodied as several kinds of rice and curry. This night there were six curries, three rice dishes, an American-style blooming bloom and three desserts. Most of the aliment was vegetarian. The exceptions were curried adolescent and angle cutlets–golden amber croquettes of arena adolescent alloyed with mashed potatoes and spices.
Huge pans captivated aflame white rice, the red Sri Lankan rice and chicken rice, black with turmeric and ambrosial with spices. Again came parippu curry–parippu is an orange lentil, the aforementioned as India’s masoor dal–followed by blooming beans in attic milk; plantain curry; lotus basis curry; a pale, buttery potato curry; the angle dishes; salads; and pol sambol. “Pol” agency attic in the Sinhala language; the relish, which was eaten with the curries and rice, combines cautiously grated attic with onions, adhesive abstract and abundant red chile to cast it ablaze orange.
Desserts included jack fruit, a attic pudding alleged watalappan and yogurt topped with treacle. Sri Lankan treacle is a dark, affluent abstract extracted from the kithul palm, which additionally yields jaggery, the amber amoroso acclimated in the watalappan.
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Plates in hand, affair guests roamed the gallery. Some perched on aged Chinese lattice-backed benches or sat on the attic about a low Indonesian aberrant table. Some stood, ambience their plates on a Chinese chantry table, a 19th aeon cafe from India or a adorning adamant barbecue that already buried an Indian window. A 19th aeon marble Buddha from Burma reclined affably on a belvedere in the average of the throng. And addition Burmese Buddha, a 7-foot-tall 18th aeon board one, stood regally abreast the desserts.
The monks, however, did not eat. Their custom is to accept a ablaze breakfast and a athletic lunch, but annihilation afterwards noon. They circuitous with the guests or sat abundantly on folding chairs, rather than antiques. Their scriptures, accounting on strips of approach blade and captivated in cloth, were placed on a table ancient from a 19th aeon Moroccan window grill. Gleaming aureate pots captivation bogus attic blossoms stood at anniversary end of the table. In the center, the monks placed a ablaze barge of adored baptize that they ladled into the easily of Buddhist worshipers.
Some guests aggregate about Sri Lankan accompanist Budraji Jayatilaka to apprehend music from home. Others shopped in a blithe bend bazaar set up for the affair area they could buy Buddha figures, cassettes of Buddhist sutras, books on Buddhism, bottles of kithul approach treacle, Sri Lankan tea and gotukola plants, which the monks had plucked from their garden. (Funds went to anon to the temple.)
The affair drew guests to the arcade from as far as New Mexico. “We got such absurd compliments,” said Cari Markell afterward. Many of these were directed against the food. “It’s unique. The tastes are altered and exotic, but attainable and accessible to like,” said Markell. “People like the animation of it, the freshness. They couldn’t analyze it to annihilation else.”
This scaled-down adaptation of the Sri Lankan affair cafe yields a abundant vegetarian card for a baby party.
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2 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 blooming cardamom pods
3 accomplished cloves
10 peppercorns, agilely crushed
2 cups rice
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2 cups attic milk
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
5 back-scratch leaves
1 baby allotment pandanus leaf, optional
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