Sri Lankan Summer
The New York Times, between drool-worthy descriptions of the food, called Kottu House “a bridge of sorts, between generations and worlds,” but you don’t need The Times to figure that out.
Kottu House is the popular, if tiny, Sri Lanken restaurant in the middle of the very-happening Lower East Side of New York. Walk inside and you are greeted by the technicolor devil face logo projected in shifting light over the counter, based on the traditional Sinhalese sign for protection. One wall is covered with a Pintrest-worthy gallery of frames: half-full of sober black and white family portraits from past generations and half grinning modern snapshots. And the menu? It is grounded in Kottu, the popular Sri Lanken street food that is a griddled mix of roti, curries, veggies, and meat - paired with a beer menu offering Lion Stout (traditional) and rotating American craft brews. And if you come on a Monday, you can catch the excellent themed movie nights (cult classics, teen movies, and all the Tom Hanks you need) while you chow down.
The whole place is something only Chelaka Gunamuni could have pulled off. He is as comfortable with traditional flavors as he is with the kind of inimitable New York cool that makes this the kind of place Aziz Ansari swings by for some grub. Chelaka grew up dividing time between Pandura, a coastal town in Sri Lanka, and Milan, where his mother helped run a family restaurant. They both arrived in Staten Island seventeen years ago and now cook side-by- side, reinventing homespun dishes for New Yorkers.
If Broome Street is too far away, you are in luck – Chelaka shares a summer-worthy kale salad recipe rounding out his restaurant’s menu below. Otherwise, plan on visiting.
In Sri Lanka we typically eat rice and curry. Along with that we have a side of some kind of chutney or malum, a malum is usually a green (kale, cabbage,etc) to give the meal some freshness. One of the most popular malum is a dark green leaf (a bitter one) mixed with just lime juice, green chilies, and onions. Everything is finally chopped and mixed well together. I turned the malum into a salad and eat it along with other things and add some extra toppings.
1 bundle of kale
1 whole lime
1/4 white onion finely sliced
2 green Chilies sliced
2T TBSP of olive oil
3 TBSP crushed cashews
2 TBSP of grated coconut
Wash the kale properly and only use the core of the kale with the stems removed. Squeeze as much as the lime as you can over the kale along with the olive oil (add extra if needed) and a pinch of salt. Add the green chilies and onions and mix them well. Top with the rest of the ingredients, cashews and the grated coconut, and enjoy!
You can add pineapples and/or grilled chicken with a boiled egg to make the salad a little heavier.
get to know Kottu House a little bit better through their drool-worthy instagram: