What we had
Tea has always been an embodiment of Sri Lanka’s culture and this rings true even today. ‘Chaiwala Colombo’, the newest addition to the growing food truck culture, celebrates this very way of life by providing freshly brewed, hot tea and snacks at an affordable price for all. Everything on offer is homemade and in limited quantity in order to keep their items fresh.
Parked just opposite the Ceypetco filling station on Marine Drive, amidst the transient beach-side sunset, we dished out almost everything they had available on their menu.
Cardamom Chai (LKR 100)
The strong whiff of cardamom reaches you even before your first sip. Unlike the hefty dollop of sugar we usually put in our tea, the Cardamom Chai is not excessively sweet and milky. Instead, there is a perfect balance between the creamy milk, sugar, tea leaves and cardamom, making it neither too strong nor too mild.
Tandoori Chai (LKR 100)
The Tandoori Chai offers a completely different experience with a very strong mix of flavours from the masala. Although there are hints of sweetness coming through from the milk and sugar, this concoction is not for the faint-hearted. None of the ingredients overpowers the other, be it the peppery kick at the back of your throat, or the dash of cloves, cardamom and other spices. Overall, this chai offers a very grounded, earthy feel and really drives your senses up a notch.
Cake Rusk (LKR 60)
This unique hybrid resembled a cross between butter cake and rusk biscuits. Usually, you would expect a hard and brittle texture, but instead, are met with a soft yet slightly crunchy interior. This milk-based Cake Rusk makes for the perfect duo alongside a cup of freshly brewed chai.
Podi Maalu Paan (LKR 60)
An interesting take on a classic Sri Lankan snack. The ‘paan’ itself takes you back to all those moments in the past where you enjoyed feasting on this delicacy. The bread is both soft and fresh, stuffed with fish and potato filling. The filling catered more towards an Indian palate instead of the all-too-familiar Lankan peppery spice we know of, giving it an entirely different burst of flavour.
Spicy Chicken Cupcake (LKR 80)
We also tried an interesting savoury cupcake that oozed a spiced potato and chicken stuffing. Although not as much heat as one would expect, it meandered more towards the salty and savoury side. The dough was more like that of a bun than of a cupcake, which fit perfectly, given that it is a savoury dish. All in all, the Spicy Chicken Cupcake was easy to eat as you can peel back the wrapper like a cupcake and relish on the fluffy, doughy centre, with the Indian seasoning remaining consistent throughout.
Fish Tawa Rotti (LKR 80)
A curious dish as it took us a while to pinpoint exactly what ingredients and flavours went into the making of this rotti. The round rotti was packed with a fish filling alongside a combination of other chopped vegetables. It offered a very unique taste unlike any of the other dishes on the menu.
To mark the auspicious Avurudu season, Chaiwala offered seasonal complimentary Kokis to enjoy with our cup of tea, which we got the opportunity to indulge in. The kokis is crispy but not rock hard, making it easy to bite into and also has an undertone of cumin flavour. A classic Lankan treat that has been fried in coconut oil, ensuring that classic flavour we all crave.
This latest gastronomic venture has been quick to amass a crowd of wanderers, from simple passers-by to exhausted office workers. Irrespective of caste, social standing, background and religion, you are sure to find a trail of Lankans eagerly waiting for their cup of chai, flooding the breezy roadside late into the night.
‘Chaiwala Colombo’ manages to evoke a sense of nostalgia with each and every sip, all at an economical price.
Tip – Pair the Cake Rusk with either the Cardamom Tea or the Tandoori Tea, leaving it to melt in your mouth.