NOT a food blog
Aliyaa holds many memories for me – memories of sharing a birthday celebration a couple of years ago with two special people in my life (with an FBB-created pavlova, no less), memories of being surprised with a gorgeous set of sushi cakes, and memories of meeting certain people for the first time there and enjoying friendships that have lasted thus far. There are other memories, but some are best kept within the confines of the four walls and staircase. Ah, it is a hard task to be secret-keeper and friend, especially when the white page of my blog beckons. My loyalty, however, is as steadfast as the cakes that FBB bakes for me, and for as long as he continues to feed me, I will not speak. Nay, my lips are sealed with chocolate and cream.
My first encounter with Sri Lankan food was, surprisingly enough, in a wintry kitchen in London. Bald Eagle’s uncle’s wife, a Sri Lankan lady whose training as a lawyer did not go amiss as she entertained us with witty and hilarious anecdotes of family life in perfectly punctuated English, cooked the most marvelous Sri Lankan dishes. Coming home after a long day of shopping and sightseeing to a plate of steaming rice and hot curry was the perfect antidote to combat the cold. It was in that very kitchen that I learnt how to make coconut sambol (masi) made with Maldive fish, grated coconut and lime juice, and subsequently smuggled some Maldive fish back to KL because at that young(er) age, I had no idea where to find such a versatile ingredient.
Our friend, Logan, loves spicy food, and since it was his birthday last week, Toygirl organised a surprise party at Aliyaa. Sri Lankan cuisine is known for being spicy, and in fact, it is even spicier than the South Indian food which is more commonly available in KL. Despite that knowledge, nothing prepared us for the onslaught of spice and heat as we drank copious amounts of water to sooth our burning tongues. It was a welcome problem, though, as the food was delicious, and so we carried on our masochistic behaviour of assaulting and battering our sensitive stomachs all in the name of pleasure. We were lazy to use our fingers, and skipped the house recommendation, the Sri Lankan crab curry. However, the Mutton Paal Poriyal was a worthy substitute, tender and tasty, cooked in a dry gravy with lots of cumin, chilli and curry leaves. The String Hoppers (made with rice flour) went wonderfully with the Mixed Vegetable Sothi, a fragrant coconut milk curry coloured yellow with turmeric. The Fish Curry was especially spicy, but I kept pouring it on my rice, virtually drinking it up and giving Logan a run for his money.
Aliyaa is located in a two-storey bungalow with a more formal setting downstairs, and a bar with an outdoor area upstairs. The furniture is heavy and sturdy, much like what Aliyaa means – “elephant” in Singhalese. The place seems to have survived the test of time (in restaurant years), so here’s hoping that my memories in this place will continue to live.
8 Lorong Dungun
50490 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2092 5378
Operating Hours: 12pm to 1am (Mon to Thurs), 12pm to 3am (Fri), 6pm till late (Sat), Sun closed.
Food, for me, is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Food, for me, represents the love of family, the fellowship of friends, and the community and communality it brings.