Lamprais, pronounced ‘lump ryes’, is a Dutch-Portugese-Ceylonese influenced dish, that is very popular in Sri Lanka and the name is derived from the Dutch word ‘klomprijst’, which means ‘lump’ of ‘rice’.
Wrapped in Banana Leaf, it is an mixture of very specific side dishes and a delightfully flavorful rice. It also contains many differently prepared items, infused with specific spices to bring out a very unique taste. This delicacy is generally eaten in small portions, depending on the mood and appetite, usually about two lamprais each. A typical meal comprises of:
Rice, the heart of the lamprais, usually the Sri Lankan short grain samba rice or the Indian Basmathi rice prepared with Ghee and fresh homemade stock
Mixed meat curry made out of bite sized chicken and pork and traditional spices prepared with less gravy
Ash plantain curry, cooked in coconut milk and seasoned with spices
Belachan made from dried shrimp and mixed with caramelized onions which supplies the delicious backbone flavor
Fish croquettes or ‘cutlet’ prepared with sardines, onion, garlic, and wrapped in breadcrumbs.
Eggplant pickle or Brinjal moju, deep fried and mixed with onions
Twice cooked egg, boiled and fried to be crispy and blistered on the outside
Making lamprais is most definitely not an easy task. Not because of its complexity, but because of the many components that needs to be prepared. It is delivered fresh or frozen, can be consumed immediately or on a later day up to 30 days.
A close comparison is the the Chinese zongzi — sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves then steamed — has many variations all over Asia. Some are savory while others are sweet. The filling that generally goes with the rice is pork and shiitake mushroom.
Another similar preparation is Nasi Lemak, a Malay fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. It is commonly found in Malaysia, where it is considered the national dish. It is also the native dish in neighboring areas with significant Malay populations such as Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.