Sri Lanka or old Ceylon evokes romantic legends from a recorded history of nearly 2,500 years and an unrecorded history of at least another 2,500 years. Stories of kings who ruled the Universe, dagger-clawed pygmies and divine intervention. All very exotic and tropical but not what you would expect strolling down a street in Zagreb, Croatia.
The Sri Lankan Curry Bowl, Zagreb
And yet, there it was…‘The Curry Bowl’ restaurant on Tkalčićeva Street (Ul.Tkalčićeva), as large as life and bedecked in vibrant yellow!
The story of Curry Bowl is about two brothers, Clement and Brian Senaratne, who travelled through Europe and fell in love with Zagreb. They returned to introduce the best of Sri Lanka to their adopted city. ‘The Curry Bowl’ is about bringing rich and intense ﬂavours with every dish. The truly unique cuisine is made using spices and aromatic herbs from south Asia, and supplies of fresh vegetables and meats sourced daily from the famous organic Dolac market a few minutes away.
The boys done well…
In 2016, Curry Bowl appeared at the ‘Floraat 2016’ 6-day floral exhibition of Zagreb. Dressed in traditional costume and selling from a wooden hut, the Senaratne brothers tried to show the ambience of Sri Lankan street food.
The boys going places!
Following their success catering at the Ultra Music Festival in Split, Curry Bowl was invited to front a section of the kitchens at the ULTRA multimillion dollar island resort of Obonjan Island for 30 days in summer 2016.
The Four Levels of Pain
There are 4 levels of spiciness available:
3. Sri Lankan
4. Are you SERIOUS??
I opted for Spice Level 3 Sri Lankan but prepared myself with a refreshing lemonade to boost my Vitamin C.
Kotthu is a Sri Lankan street-food made with spices, egg, carrots, leeks, cabbage and homemade roti (bread). Other proteins can be added like chicken, pork, beef and cheese to upgrade the basic kotthu.
It is served with a bowl of dhal (lentil) soup.
Brought up in Asia, I’ve had kotthu before. As a street-food, variations abound to account for local ingredients and tastes but the basic idea is a spicy stir-fry of shredded dough and egg. The kotthu here is pretty close to the real deal considering the vast distance that it has been transplanted to… in Europe.
I wondered why the locals in Zagreb like it until I found the Croatian dish Mlinci, which is essentially shredded pasta with vegetables, to which, you can add your protein of choice; chicken is the usual comfort food.
Fresh grated coconut mixed with tomato, onions and spices for a Sri lankan favourite side dish. I was impressed by the freshness of this as sourcing fresh coconuts in the Slavic Europe must be a mini-miracle. The cool, grated coconut lent relief to the spiciness of the other dishes.
Deep fried eggplant (brinjal) cooked with mustard paste, vinegar and spices. Brinjal or eggplant is one of my favourite vegetables and the wambotu moju here is as near authentic as I’ve had after 40 years in Europe. The bittersweet caramelisation of the ‘plancha’ fried brinjal in Sri Lankan spices added a piquant counterpoint to the starchy main dish.
The meal was washed down with Pan beer, a Croatian lager brewed by Carlsberg Croatia.
What price this luxury?
Unbelievably less than $13 after taxes!
VIDEO: Curry Bowl Sri Lankan Restaurant in Zagreb
AlphaLuxe Two-Tongues Award
If you need respite from the obligatory carnivourous Croatian cuisine, The Curry Bowl offers mainly vegetarian fare but you can add meaty ingredients so everyone in your party can be included.
AlphaLuxe articles about Zagreb:
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He is also a moderator on PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).