Okra Kitchen by Ravi and Sepali

By Dimithri Wijesinghe

PHOTOS Krishan Kariyawasam

On 29 January, Okra Kitchen by Ravi and Sepali unveiled their new range of fusion hoppers at their outlet at the Food Studio, Colombo City Centre.

A family business through and through, Okra Kitchen has been somewhat of a revelation in their role as part of the traditional Sri Lankan cuisine offered up in the island.

Coming from humble beginnings, Ravi and Sepali grew their once modest catering business into a marketable modern-day hotspot.

Remaining true to their roots however, the brand has continued to always refer back to what set them apart – the traditional recipes they incorporate into their dishes that have been around in their family for generations.

Ravi and Sepali’s brand is currently under the management of their three sons; all award-winning chefs. One out of the trio is the renowned Rishi Naleendra, based in Singapore; the first Sri Lankan chef to win a Michelin Star. We had the pleasure of trying out Rishi’s genius at his most recent establishment “Cloudstreet” on Amoy Street, Singapore.

Suffice to say, the future of Okra Kitchen is in good hands. Chef Sachithra Danendra their younger son is the main man at Okra Kitchen who has curated an interesting array of fusion dishes with exciting twists.

The menu on the tasting platter was interesting for sure with the inclusion of original and fusion hoppers – cheese and kochchi, egg and seeni sambol, nai miris and omelette – and for dessert they served hoppers with chocolate and the Lankan favorite “kiri aappa”, but with a twist as they’ve used coconut milk instead of curd and of course some excellent jaggery.

The hoppers were great on their own, although a little too delicate for our taste considering how it is often a dinner item and while ideally they should be light, Lankans aren’t known for their healthy meal habits. So we’d have liked the hopper crust to not crumble at the sight of contact and the wafer was a little on the sweet side but that’s just a personal preference on our part; we prefer the plain hopper to be plain or salty; definitely not favouring the sweet.

However, if you leave aside our nitpicking, the hoppers were prepared beautifully, consistent every time. The fusion stuff was good but we don’t believe they added all that much to the original dish, although the cheese and kochchi was quite alright.

The hoppers came with a fish head curry and chicken ambulthiyal. The fish head curry we have to say was delightful – the fish was tender and the curry was well balanced; spicy but flavourful. The chicken ambulthiyal on the other hand was not impressive. We can say with certainty we’ve had better and we’d have liked the ambulthiyal to seep its way into the chicken as opposed to being slightly glazed on the chicken. Also, the chicken itself was quite dry.

Finally, we kept the best for last because we were quite blown away by their dessert options, especially the kiri aappa. The chocolate one was good too but that coconut milk cooked right in the centre with the jaggery shavings added on while it was piping hot, was heavenly. If you ever head towards Okra Kitchen at Food Studio, this one is a must have.

Overall, Okra Kitchen by Ravi and Sepali is a great place to enjoy a sit-down meal if you’re looking for a good home-cooked dish as they offer homey comfort in their familiar flavours and local dishes. While it won’t wow you, for the most part, it will be satisfactory.