Pela (Thimbirigasyaya) has been around for quite some time now and as we heard, they provide lunch meals at a really good deal without compromising on quality. They're not a relative of Pela (Delkanda), and given that we were hungry and stuck with a podi budget, we decided to pay this one a visit.
They have rice & curry with either fish or chicken as the choice of protein and a couple of rice varieties like nasi goreng and biriyani. The interesting part is that all of this will set you back only Rs. 150 each.
We decided to grab one of each – Rice & Curry (Fried Fish), Nasi Goreng and Biriyani.
The Fried Fish Rice & Curry was a hefty serving of red rice, decorated with tempered potatoes, tempered kankun mallum, polos mallum, parrippu and of course, a piece of fried fish alongside a bit of maalu hodhi.
The rice was cooked well, while the tempered potato added a bit of heat and coupled with the kankun mallum, it provided a good leafy depth to the overall spiciness of the meal. The parrippu curry helped to keep it moisturised, but we wouldn’t have minded a bit more of that.
The polos mallum, however fresh, tasted a tad off, albeit raw and leaning on the salty side of things. We found nothing to complain about fried fish which was the first to disappear from the plate. All of this for the price of Rs. 150 is basically a steal but sadly, there was something we just couldn’t put a finger on that lead us not to finishing the whole meal.
This is basically a Lankan type biriyani, not the authentic kind, cooked with samba rice. We did get a bit of masala aroma helping the flavour, but more spices would have made it better. There were a few tiny bits of shredded chicken mixed in, while the bullseye egg and a tomato salad were flavourful additions.
Sporting the striking resemblance to the biriyani, our Nasi goreng also had a bullseye egg and a helping of tomato salad. There’ was a very little amount of chicken but we did try to keep our expectations in check. The spiciness carried by the rice was milder than we anticipated, but, however, it wasn't too oily, which was a plus.
Ambience and Service
The place is not that big but you do get a few tables and chairs where you can dine in, but they don’t exclude much confidence in dine-in experience. Most of the people stick to take away, and from what we gathered, that is the better option.
Anyway, the coconut leaf canopy over the clay pots holding all the items added a nice touch.
We didn’t see any issues in terms of service. The place is being run by a couple who are quite vocal about their rice & curry and not using MSG as well as not serving pork. The person behind the counter and the one who answered my call was kind enough to take my order and explain to me that at Rs. 150, I shouldn't expect a big piece of meat – which I understand. However, in retrospect, him telling that he serves authentic flavours of biriyani and nasi became a tad questionable after our meals.
Rice & curry is basically a religion in Sri Lanka and the expectations are always high when you are looking at this. For Rs. 150, we can’t really blame any of these dishes. As we gathered, they do sell out fairly quickly and people do seem to enjoy the cheap prices and the mounds of rice.
But we can't help but feel that with both the nasi and biriyani, the amount of rice just acts as an extender to make it seem more of a deal than it is. Maybe if they can reconsider the amount of rice here and add a bit more protein and coupled with more spices, it would go a long way.