Nestled within the expansive grounds of SurfnYoga Mirissa, Ahimsa Vegan Cafe is something you might miss if you pass by the place too fast. It is not visible from the street, and the only indication of its presence is a little sign stuck up on the road, right next to other signs that say 'yoga', 'hostel', 'surf shop' and 'good vibes' (which are apparently on the house) etc. The cafe serves a range of highly creative Sri Lankan and foreign fusion food.
Melly's Ayurvedic Spicy Coffee (Rs. 350) is perfect to have after you eat, it has a faintly Arabic vibe mixed in with a smell not unlike the waiting room of an Ayurvedic doctor's office (points for authenticity), but in a good way, full of healthy things like cardamom, fennel seeds, cinnamons, cloves and other spices we couldn't identify.
The homemade lemonade (Rs. 350) is a great choice for a light, minty appetizer, just like the green tea with lemon (Rs. 150).
Stuff we couldn't identify continued to be a strong theme when it came to the food as well. But again, not even remotely in a bad way. What we were eating was phenomenal food, and would have been phenomenal even if it wasnt vegan food, but had been cooked in the same way. There were a lot of flavors, spices and textures all conspiring to create beautiful music on your tastebuds, coming together like an orchestra conducted from the little kitchen inside the container box. Sorry, I shall stop waxing creepy-lyrical and try to get to facts.
The Ahimsa Bowl (Rs. 750) had herbed and curried potatoes, beans, lettuce, all sorts of seeds, other types of herbs with some rice cooked in tumeric and some potato fritters. I went inside to complement one of the chefs on it, especially the fritters, and he dumped more onto my bowl from a freshly fried batch he had just finished.
We ordered the Sauteed Mushrooms on kadey paan (Rs. 650) (they called it Toasted Wheat/Wholewheat bread, but im putting kadey paan here just to make it clear what kind of bread it was, gone are the days when 'bread' meant kadey paan by default no?) with tumeric hummus as a choice of dip. The tumeric was a brilliant touch, and went really well with the mushrooms which were fried to an optimum balance of juicy and crunchy. There was other stuff going on like onions, chillies etc.
A little note here in case you're wondering. There might be a lot of flavors on the food, but it is no way too spicy, as in too hot.
Dessert of the day was chia pudding with papaya (Rs. 300). The pudding had coconut in it, as well as passion fruit, and had a nice think texture something like that of sago. Again there were a few other flavors going on in there that we couldnt identify the origins of, yet they all came together like a cricket team on a world cup winning streak.
The place is basically a container box, something more and more hip as a space for establishments seeking to occupy the (gradually bluntening) cutting edge of pop culture. Half of it has space for a small couch and table, while the other half functions as a kitchen, which should be cramped, but actually looks really well managed and spacious.
Thankfully customers can sit outside on the wide varendah, under the leafy trees in the huge garden, on chairs and tables made out of metal barrels (another popular recycling trend) that can be hard to move if you want to adjust them. Around us six playful dogs were fighting and gambolling about. A really nice, relaxed environment.
While there are places on the South Coast that offer vegan options, as far as we know, this is the only place that is exclusively vegan. I am not a vegan, but i really appreciate the creativity that goes into the preparation process. Vegan food, to be good, should probably come from a place with a lot of passion.
And there is definitely a lot of that going on here, Melly and Michael, both vegan chefs who travel around hosting vegan pop ups wherever they go, got here a few weeks ago and were talked into by Priyal, who runs SurfnYoga, to think of a more permanent establishment. They will be moving on soon though, so make it here fast if you want to try their amazing cooking. But Priyal says he has already found a replacement chef, and hopefully they will be just as good.
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