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Kithul- Fishtail palm syrup and other Sri Lankan food

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I read this article on NPR’s website and was interested in tasting the syrup.  We live close to Dana Bazaar on Nebel St. (Rockville), which stocks Sri Lankan products and a few prepared snacks.  I bought a bottle and it was quite good.  It looks like maple syrup but the flavor is, of course, different.  The article mentions woody and smoky flavors.  It tasted musty to me but not in an unpleasant way.  It’s typically served with yogurt, which is a good match.  I’ve also enjoyed it on pancakes and French toast. 

I was talking to the Sri Lankan father of a kid on my son’s soccer team and he recommended Spice Lanka, a Sri Lankan grocery store near Rockville (17517 Redland Rd. Derwood) for groceries and prepared foods.  I stopped by to look around.  I picked up a bottle of lighter-colored kithul (milder flavor as you would expect).  I don’t know that the selection of groceries was better than Dana Bazaar but there was a very large array of prepared foods.

I got some “short eats” (snacks).  There was a fried fish roll (crispy and tasty), an egg cutlet (something like a Scotch egg), a vegetable and a meat roti (mini burritos with spicy fillings).  I enjoyed them.  They also had a several curries and other main dishes that looked good. 

While I was there, a few people stopped by to pick up their orders of string hoppers.  These are steamed rice noodles that are eaten with curries or coconut milk sauce.  I learned from the very friendly owner and customers that Sri Lankan cuisine has been influenced by the presence of British, Portuguese, Dutch, Arab, and Indian traders/invaders.  I look forward to trying more items.




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