A breakfast staple in Sri Lanka, Kothu is often made from the leftovers from the night before. It is also enjoyed out on the dusty streets of Colombo as a post-drinking snack. You can find it in roadside stands all over town. Roti is fried with shredded chicken and veg, and chopped up as it’s cooked. You can hear the sounds of large steel blades hitting the tawa – flat-top grill – wherever you go, along with the laughter of friends sitting out and sharing a plate. Kothu is a way of life on the island.
Gizzy Alesbrook, head chef at our newest opening, Hotal Colombo, grew up eating kothu and making it at home using leftover chicken kari – Sri Lankan curry. Here’s her recipe for the much-loved street snack. Enjoy!
10-12 fresh curry leaves
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small piece of fresh ginger, sliced
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 green chillies or capsicum peppers
1 small red onion, chopped
¼ white cabbage, cut into strips
½ leek, cut into strips
1 small carrot, grated
500g chicken kari, chicken shredded and separated from the gravy
2-3 kothu roti – cut into strips
1 tbsp chilli flakes (depending on how hot you like it)
a bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
salt to taste
Fry the curry leaves, garlic, ginger and mustard seeds in a splash of oil.
Let it crackle then add in the green chillies, red onion, cabbage, leek, carrot and the shredded chicken from the kari.
Sauté for three minutes over a medium heat.
Add the eggs and mix it all together.
Add the sliced roti and give it a quick toss.
Add the gravy from the chicken kari.
Check the seasoning and add chilli flakes, a squeeze of lime and some fresh coriander.
Devour greedily like nobody is watching.
If you enjoyed this slice of island life, read the story of a Colombo traffic warden who became the King of Baila and for more from the sub-continent, read about Chef Palash Mitra’s obsession with butter chicken.