Asian cooking – Most of Sri Lankan type of food can be cooked by saving nearly 60% energy
Posted on November 21st, 2016

Dr Hector Perera       London

Direct heat cooking is applied mainly in Asian type of cooking such as rice and curries. One of my concern is to find out how to save in energy and to stop any cooking aroma getting on them while cooking. If the people are not really careful in saving energy in cooking, they have to pay for whatever the energy they used, apart from that they pollute the atmosphere with polluted gases. Back home in Sri Lanka they used firewood stoves in cooking but now things have changed for better with modern facilities such as with modern gas and electric cookers, ovens and with extractor fans. They cannot use any more firewood stoves unless they are in remote areas or in villages because now they live in apartments. Unlike in villages the people who live in apartments have all compact in a small area. I know our mum had a large house in a huge coconut land and kitchen was at the end of the house because the visiting kussi amma” used nothing but firewood in cooking. One must see to believe me, sometimes the smoke gets filled in the kitchen even when smoke escaped from the overhead chimney. In some houses they have something called Atuwa” just above the firewood stoves where they store dry fish and spices then sometimes they stack cooking vessels to dry.

Firewood stove cooking is a struggle

Actually cooking in such a place is a complete struggle. The place is really hot due to excess fire or radiated energy in the stoves then the smoke makes you feel very uncomfortable, sorry cannot describe in a few words. They used nothing but clay pots and they are not very good conductors of energy. I must admit the fact food cooked in those clay pots have a unique taste when compared to the food cooked in stainless steel pots and pans. Some people instead of using stainless steel pots and pans or clay pots, they used Aluminium vessels. There are some disadvantages of using those kind of materials in cooking. They have a special property in dissolving to some extent in acidic and in alkali food but for boiling water or to cook rice they are really good because of the good conductivity of the material.

Asian cuisine refers to any of several major regional cuisines, including East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian, Central Asian, and Middle Eastern. A cuisine is a characteristic style of cooking practices and traditions, usually associated with a specific culture.

Ingredients in cooking

Ingredients common to many cultures in the East and Southeast regions of the continent include rice, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, chilies, dried onions, curry leaves, pandam leaves or rampae”, lemon grass, soy, and tofu.  Stir frying, steaming, and deep frying are common cooking methods. Try frying some dry red chillies, you might want to run away, just try and see to believe me.

While rice is common to most Asian cuisines, different varieties are popular in the various regions. Basmati rice is popular in the subcontinent, Jasmine rice is often found across the southeast, while long-grain rice is popular in China and short-grain in Japan and Korea. In Sri Lanka you might come across a few more verities of rice including brown rice which is very nutritive.

Curry is a common dish in southern, western and Southeastern Asia, however it is not as common in East Asian cuisines. Curry dishes with origins in India and other South Asian countries usually have a yogurt base while Southeastern and Eastern curries generally use coconut milk as their foundation. Nothing like string hoppers with sambola and kirihodi”, of course you know that.

Foods in this area of the world are flavoured with various types of chili, black pepper, cloves, and other strong herbs and spices along with the flavoured butter and ghee. Turmeric and cumin are often used to make curries. The spices are really good because they have medicinal, antibacterial and antifungal effects in addition they give a special flavour to the curries.

Meats and vegetables

Common meats include lamb, goat, fish and chicken. Beef is less common than in Western cuisines because cattle have a special place in Hinduism. Lamb and mutton have always been the favoured meats of the Middle East. Pork is prohibited in both Islam and Judaism, and as such is rarely eaten in the region. Prominent among the meat preparations are grilled meats, or kebabs. Meat and vegetable stews, served with rice, burger, or bread, are another form of meat preparation in the region.

Vegetables and pulses are the predominant staple of the great majority of the people in the Middle East. They are boiled, stewed, grilled, stuffed, and cooked with meat and with rice. Among the green leafy vegetables, many varieties of cabbage, spinach, mukunuwenna, kankun” and chard are widely used. Root and bulb vegetables, such as onions and garlic, as well as carrots, turnips, sweet potatoes and beets are equally common.

Dutch landed Sri Lanka by accident

Sri Lankan cuisine has been influenced by many historical, cultural, and other factors. For example, the effects of the Dutch colonialists who once ruled Sri Lanka and brought their own cuisines with them; foreign traders who brought new food items; and the cuisine of Southern India have all helped to shape Sri Lankan cuisine. Today, some of the staples of Sri Lankan cuisine are rice, coconut, and spices. The latter are used due to Sri Lanka’s history as a spice producer and trading post over several centuries.

A Sri Lankan rice and curry dishes.

Typical Sri-Lankan dish of rice and prawns.

The central feature of Sri Lankan cuisine is boiled or steamed rice, served with a curry of fish, chicken, beef, mutton, or goat, along with other curries made with vegetables, lentils, or fruits.

Dishes are accompanied by pickled fruits such as mangos and amberalla”  then lime pickle or vegetables, chutneys, and sambals. Especially common is coconut sambal, a paste of ground coconut mixed with chili peppers, dried Maldives fish, and lime juice then a pinch of salt for taste. Long time ago they were made on Miris gala by our kussi amma” but now the time has changed. Now just add them to a grinding machine and it is done within minutes without any problem. Some Asian food shops including leading supermarkets have bottles of these for sale.

You want more!

This is not all but there are other things such as, pol sambola, Kottu and many more. Kottu is a spicy Sri Lankan stir-fry of shredded roti bread with vegetables. Optional ingredients include eggs, meat or cheese. Then there are Hoppers (appa) are a range of dishes based on a fermented batter, usually made of rice flour and coconut milk with spices.  The dish is pan-fried or steamed. The fermenting agent is palm toddy or yeast. Hopper variants can be either savory (such as egg hoppers, milk hoppers, and string hoppers), or sweet (such as vandu appa and pani appa). Savory hoppers are often accompanied by lunu miris a mix of red onions and spices. String hoppers (idiyappa) are made from a hot-water dough of rice meal or wheat flour. The dough is pressed out in circlets from a string mould onto small wicker mats, and then steamed.


A Dutch Burgher influenced dish, lamprais is rice boiled in stock accompanied by meatballs, a mixed meat curry, blachan, aubergine curry, and seeni sambola. All of this is then wrapped in a banana leaf and baked in an oven. Lamprais is ideal for special occasions with a large gathering of friends and family considering its richness and the time it takes to prepare. Effectively lamprais is cooked twice; first the rice and the entrees are cooked separately and later what is already cooked is wrapped in a banana leaf and baked in oven, which makes it a unique recipe. Pittu are cylinders of steamed rice mixed with grated coconut or flour with grated coconuts. Gothamba roti is a simple Sri Lankan flat bread usually made from wheat flour.

How energy can be saved in cooking these things

Most of the above can be cooked with direct heat fire, with gas, electricity or with firewood stoves. According my scientific energy saving cooking nearly 60% of gas and electricity can be saved in cooking those things. I have demonstrated in Sri Lanka in different TV channels in cooking rice and chicken curries but other things can be done in time to come. Just imagine saving 60% energy in cooking most of the Sri Lankan type of food is a huge saving of gas and electricity. My method is quite scientific and it has been approved by The Sustainable Energy Authority in Sri Lanka also accepted by The Invention Commission in Sri Lanka. I have challenged any energy saving experts in England to step forward either to approve or disprove my method but yet they haven’t step forward. I am sure they know that I am not joking as I apply my scientific knowledge. One might think I am a cook or a chef but a BSc MSc PhD qualified chemistry teacher. I discovered the method when I was studying for my degree that was a long time ago. I wish if I could demonstrate my method of 60% energy saving cooking to British people. One thing British people most of the time Bake than direct heat cooking. No energy can be saved by the method of baking. If my energy saving cooking is good enough to be shown in a few TVs in Sri Lanka what is wrong with British TV? Your comments are welcomed


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