We all know Sri Lankan cuisine has been shaped by many food cultures, with distinctly Asian influences as well as Portuguese, Dutch and English – that’s the reason we expect to see rich and fruity Christmas cake on the table in December, along with sweet, buttery breudher, mince pies, Love Cake and spiced baked ham. With visitors flocking to your restaurant from near and far, why not embrace the global theme and take your inspiration from all over the world?
Your guests might want (and expect) dried fruits, heady spices and rich roast meats but you can have some fun playing around with traditions. Try a homage to the traditional spiced ham by incorporating it into a light potato croquette. Reimagine Christmas cake by adding it into a holiday season parfait. Work those warming spices into a December limited-edition pavlova, semolina pudding or coconut custard. Instead of gingerbread, why not turn kokis or savboro into festive shapes such as snowflakes, stars, bells, Christmas trees and holly leaves, and dust liberally with snowy icing sugar.
Christmas means you’ll likely be dealing with large crowds, maximum capacity lunch covers, and functions ranging from cocktails and canapés, to sit-down festive bookings. If you have the space, spread your events out across the month. You can also theme your rooms – go for rich colours, twinkling candles and a warm and cosy vibe in smaller areas such as the bar, or make a sparkly, icy-cool winter wonderland in larger spaces.
Creating that sense of occasion will get everyone in a celebratory mood and wanting to stay on for more talking, drinking and eating.
A fine spread
One way of knowing what your customers want is to ask them! When you are planning a Christmas menu, you may want to play with local and easily sourced ingredients, incorporating our local cuisine.
Crowd-pleasers that nod to tradition but aren’t too rich and heavy are a good place to start. Try cold starters such as zingy noodle salads, seafood cocktails or light terrines, before moving onto favourites such as yellow rice, chicken dry roast, fried eggplant, cashew, and spicy potato curries, and pol sambol. Finish with light puddings – fresh fruit platters with ice cream – or daintier portions of Christmas standards – perhaps cute petit-four versions of the classic Christmas cake, mince pies and yule logs.
Your diners may be in the mood for a fancy blow-out meal, or they may feel they’ve overindulged already and will be grateful for the option of something lighter and fresher. They’ll appreciate being given the choice.