JK’s Xmas Sri Lankan Style

by | East Hampton, Interviews

For over the past twenty years my immediate and extended family have celebrated Christmas in Sri Lanka. My villa, Twenty Three Palm, sits on two lush beach front acres in a small fishing village in southern Sri Lanka. The villa has a 90ft veranda facing the sea which is ideal for an alfresco Christmas dinner. We celebrate many Asian and American holidays from Poya day to Labor day -but Christmas is our American favorite. Christmas Day is for many, an international holiday, but not in Sri Lanka.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]In November I order a Lindenhof Farms turkey from southern Lancaster County Pennsylvania. Lindenhof Farms, for three generations, has grown the fattest and juiciest turkeys. U.S. guests draw straws as to who will transport these thirty pound birds on their 13,000 mile journey.


jetty-jkccEach year, I prepare my family recipe – herb roasted turkey and gravy, but being in the land of exotic spices for half my life makes me more adventurous in the spice department. Hence curry. In Sri Lanka, no two curries are alike. I categorize curry two ways – mild and hot.

Due to tropical daytime heat and guests who are working, Christmas dinner in Sri Lanka is at 8:00 pm. I set four round tables on the veranda. Almost a hundred lanterns are placed across the property creating a festive glow. There are no place settings instead tables are divided into four categories. Mild and Hot curry, a third table for guests who eat Sri Lankan style with their hands, which is to bring harmony to the flavors and textures of the food. And a fourth table, for those like me who prefer the family flatware. Unlike my culinary partner Jeff, typically I adhere to each recipe, but on Christmas I release my culinary inhibitions.

spices-sri-lankaIn Sri Lanka and India I learned about combining color and texture in food. As a result guests choose three prime ingredients- turkey, rice, and condiments. There are small dishes like diced cucumbers, lime pickle, hot mango, raisins, banana slivers, roasted cashews, sliced avocado and dried cranberries, to name a few.

It’s so much fun sharing these flavors and watching friends and family turn fifty shades of purple from spices that give a new meaning of HOT!

-Jack Kelly[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

JK Chef Collection

New York City

East Hampton


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