In one of my earlier posts , I had written about Sigiri, a SriLankan restaurant in Edison , N.J. At the time they did not have a lunch buffet as is common in Indian restaurants. Recently though they have started to offer a lunch buffet on Sundays only, and my wife and I decided to check it out.
At first glance , the buffet appeared disappointing. and the number of dishes very skimpy. After we had eaten, though, I revised my opinion . True , Indian restaurant buffets often have 30 or more dishes but one winds up tasting only a few of them .The rest might as well not be there .The buffet at Sigiri may have been limited but all the dishes were tasty.
The buffet dishes consisted of a black pork curry , a king fish curry,two vegetable curries, rice, a yoghurt salad with cucumber and onion, two chutneys and papadums. The food was laid out on two long tables in an L – shaped formation near the front window. The hot curries and the rice were presented in traditional Sri Lankan clay pots with serrated tops while the rice and the chutneys were attractively laid out in pots lined with banana leaves. All the food was distinctive and well prepared. I liked the pork curry the best while my wife preferred the fish curry.One vegetable curry was a sweet and sour preparation of barely ripe mangoes and the other a delicately spiced preparation with squash. Both were delicious and quite different from anything I’ve encountered in Indian restaurants . Of the two chutneys , one was a dark brown and appeared to be of shredded coconut,red chillies and spices and perhaps some dried shrimp ; the other was dark green in color and very finely minced but , beyond that, I was mystified by the ingredients. Tasty though. Even the raita was very different. Cucumber and onion raita is something I’ve eaten dozens of times both at home and in Indian restaurants but Sigiri’s version was something I’d never had before. I almost forgot to mention that the buffet ( $ 10.95) includes dessert which, on that day, was an excellent flan.
The one shortcoming of Sigiri’s buffet ,(and really it is no fault of theirs), is that it doesn’t include any chappatis or parathas. In Indian buffets , in addition to rice, you usually get roti or a naan or a paratha to sop up the gravy. In Sri Lankan cuisine, which is more rice -based, parathas are not a staple . If you don’t like rice , then you may have to order pitu roti from the à la carte menu, as my wife did.
But this is a minor detail. The Sigiri lunch buffet is well worth a try. The food is different from the standard fare at Indian buffets and the service is friendly .