Culinary Students Present Taste of Sri Lanka

October 21, 2016, 10:47 AM HST (Updated September 8, 2020, 11:18 AM)
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    Where can you find a four-course gourmet meal, made with fresh, local ingredients for only $20? It sounds too good to be true, but students from the Hawai‘i Community College Culinary Arts Program, Palamanui, in Kailua-Kona serve up unique feasts from around the globe five times a semester. This semester, the culinary program is focusing on Asian cuisine, featuring foods from Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Korea and Japan.

    Last month, students prepared Sri Lankan cuisine at their new campus for about two dozen eager diners. The island of Sri Lanka is located southeast of India and its cuisine is heavily influenced by both India and Dutch colonialists. Coconut is one of the main staples of Sri Lankan dishes, and was a highlighted ingredient throughout the luncheon. Other ingredients taking center stage were Ceylon cinnamon, mangos and pineapple.

    “This gives our students an opportunity to learn how fine-dining establishments operate,” said Culinary Arts Instructor Mark Johnson. “We’re not training them to work at Denny’s. They’re learning how to prepare and present in a high-quality restaurant.”

    The menu for Taste of Sri Lanka included Coconut Roti with Seeni Sambal. To translate into layman’s terms, this is a delicious coconut fry bread served with a sweet and spicy onion relish and a side of ghee and fresh garlic. The second course was a Pineapple Cucumber Salad tossed with mixed greens and pomegranate Ceylon tea dressing. The third course was fresh ahi served with a mango coconut curry, layered with spices and basmati rice. Dessert was Watallapan—a creamy coconut custard topped with a ginger caramel and lime-ginger tuille cookie.

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    The luncheon featured all fresh, locally grown ingredients. Limes from the Au Family Farm in Captain Cook flavored the salad dressing and the refreshing Hibiscus Cooler. The limes were also zested and incorporated into the lime-ginger tulle cookie on the coconut custard.

    The salad featured Kawabata Farms tomatoes grown in Kamuela and mixed with greens from JA Farms, also in Kamuela. The mixed greens contained young mizuna, tatsoi, red mustard, galactic, lollo rosa and tango leaves.

    The coconut curry included fresh mangoes, creating a sweet, yet savory spiced layered entree. Last, but certainly not least, the students used fresh young ginger in the dessert. The ginger was minced and put into the tuille cookie batter. Whole pieces of ginger were used to infuse into the caramel candy topping.

    Lunch is $20 per person and is served at 11:30 a.m. on luncheon days. Reservations are taken on Monday, the week of the luncheon from 8 a.m., but no earlier.

    The best way to keep informed of the luncheon schedule is to get on the school’s email list. The schedule is sporadic but well worth the trouble of inquiry.

    For more information about upcoming luncheons, call (808) 969-8842 or email [email protected].

    ahi-mango-curry

    Ahi mango curry from the Hawai‘i Community College Culinary Arts Program, Palamanui, in Kailua-Kona. Karen Rose photo.

    coconut-custard-with-ginger-caramel

    Coconut custard with ginger caramel from the Hawai‘i Community College Culinary Arts Program, Palamanui, in Kailua-Kona. Karen Rose photo.

    cocount-fry-bread

    Coconut fry bread from the Hawai‘i Community College Culinary Arts Program, Palamanui, in Kailua-Kona. Karen Rose photo.

    palamanui-campus-luncheon

    The Hawai‘i Community College Culinary Arts Program, Palamanui, in Kailua-Kona. Karen Rose photo.

    pineapple-cucumber-salad

    Pineapple cucumber salad from the Hawai‘i Community College Culinary Arts Program, Palamanui, in Kailua-Kona. Karen Rose photo.

    Karen Rose
    Karen Rose is a writer and journalist living on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Her writing focuses on food, wine, travel, arts and entertainment. She never met a food she didn't like—except black licorice.

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