When Hoppers opened in Soho around three years ago in a glory of metaphorical flashbulbs, the gushing was immediate. Sri Lankan food had arrived in London! And it offered a sexier version of dosa! And eggs! This must have been bemusing for Sri Lankan restaurateurs who’d been quietly grating coconuts to make fiery sambals for decades; fashioning rice flour into bamboo-shaped puttu and a tangle of noodles known as idiyappam or string hoppers.
London’s Sri Lankan restaurants are mostly clustered around Wembley and Harrow in the north-west, and Tooting and Croydon in the south, with a few joining forces with south Indian in East Ham. In areas like Wembley, where a large Indian population starts closing businesses because the second and third generation immigrants have moved into white-collar jobs, Sri Lankan shops and restaurants spring up. In Tooting and parts of east London, Sri Lankan and south Indian sit side-by-side singing a duet — same songs, different accents.
Younger Sri Lankans, meanwhile, have been cooking up a storm in supper clubs and street food markets, enticing hungry Londoners with the aromas of chillies, onions, peppers and spices. Yes, Sri Lankan food has arrived. It just happened much longer ago than London might think.Read More