They say a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Well, that’s true. Not just for men, though. Women like to eat good food, too! Luckily for Jasmine Beach House, owner-operator extraordinaire Batta is an amazing cook! His home cooked meals are probably the number one reason guests stay longer than planned and even return for a second visit before leaving the island.
Batta cooks fresh meals daily to order based on seasonal offerings and the catch of the day. During lobster season, we offer lobster caught at the rocky point at the end of our beach. Batta sautés halved lobster in the shell in a delicious sweet chili garlic sauce with lime juice. He serves it with Sri Lankan egg noodles that are seasoned with turmeric and fried with carrots and leeks. It’s an mouth watering combination with a very colorful palate!
The lobster men go out with their inner tubes in the evening at sunset to drop their nets. They mark the nets with buoys. Early in the morning just before sunrise they return to lift the nets and discover their catch. We are their first customers. We usually serve them for dinner but we have been known to serve lobster for brunch!
I was vegetarian for many years, but after living on the beach I am now pescatarian. The fish is amazingly fresh and delicious and such a part of the local cuisine. Fish curries, dried fish fried with caramelized onions, grilled fish, shell fish, it’s all in such abundance along the coast of Sri Lanka. And each region has its own recipes and delicacies. Here in Matara, the down south blackened fish curry is the local specialty.
However, because I am a Buddhist and refrain from taking life when possible, I am very aware of my fish consumption and try to be mindful of it. A great Tibetan Buddhist yogi named Chatral Rinpoche always taught the importance of refraining from eating meat and taking life. He always ransomed the life of fish being sold at the market and released them back into the ocean. Many Tibetan Buddhist practitioners follow suit. So once a season I like to buy all the lobster and crab caught in one of the fisherman’s nets that day and carry them back to the rocky point to release them back into the salt water. The fisherman is always confused, wondering why I’m buying them to release them back into the water just to be caught again the next day. But it makes me feel good to know that these ocean creatures have another day of freedom and life. And I dedicate the merit of this good action to the enlightenment of all sentient beings. This is our animal liberation and life release practice at the beach.
We will be posting some recipes here on the blog in case you are curious to try cooking Sri Lankan food yourself at home. The recipe for Sri Lankan Noodles and Sautéed Lobster will be posted here soon!