What we had
From spa treatments to wellness cuisine
Kemara ( meaning ‘healing’ in Sanskrit) has now opened ‘The only 100% Paleo cafe in Sri Lanka’. The Paleo diet consists of vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, fruits and unprocessed fats but avoids refined foods, grains, dairy, beans and sugars.
We had the opportunity to sample a 3-course meal and to chat to Kishani Gunawardana, the CEO and Founder of Kemara Academy.
Kemara started out offering wellness treatments and is one of the places that offer a consultation and to customise a treatment to suit a client’s needs. After pondering how to prolong the feeling of relaxation and how to provide the same experience at home, Kishani, after exploring many different diet options, settled on the Paleo diet. All their products are 99 per cent locally sourced and all their food packaging is refillable, with customers being encouraged to buy in bulk. Kemara’s goal is not to look at Paleo as a diet but as a lifestyle and focuses a lot on recreating what we eat on a daily basis with “vibrant, healthy ingredients”.
The drinks are served on either large wooden trays or ceramic plates which makes space an issue, considering the size of their tables. They have everything from meal replacement smoothies to cold-pressed juices
Papaya Berry Smoothie – LKR 495
This one is not too sweet on its own and comes with honey on the side so it can be sweetened to taste. It takes a bit of work to mix in and there is more of the papaya flavour coming through than berry. The drink could have also been a bit more chilled.
Herb Almond Bread and Nut Butters
Herb Almond Bread – Mini Loaf Tin – LKR 595
Loaf Tin – LKR 2860
Nut butters (120g) – Almond – LKR 1280
Cashew – LKR 1170
We were presented with Kemara’s Herb Almond bread and their nut butters. The food presentation is simple, classy and well thought out.
The bread comes in two different sizes and is much more highly-priced than the bread sold at your local grocery store. The Miniature Loaf, which is roughly the size of two large cupcakes sells for LKR 595 which is a bit steep for bread. The price is justified by the effort that goes into sourcing and making the bread and its nutritional value. The texture is chewier and rougher than normal bread but is also more flavourful.
Both the butters has more of a liquid consistency than normal butter
Almond butter – This one had a strong nutty flavour and was sweeter. It also complemented the subtle almond flavour in the bread.
Cashew butter– this one was the more creamier of the two and had a more subtle flavour of cashew.
The Platter – LKR 1250
This consisted of cucumbers, carrots, grapes and strawberries along with four different dips we could sample.
Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil – This one was the most textured out of the four because of its ingredients. There was also a mild taste of vinegar that came through and makes for a good substitute for ketchup.
Herb and Garlic – Sweet with a strong aftertaste of garlic, this one is best paired with the vegetables
Lime and Coriander – This dip works well with both the fruits and vegetables due to its slightly sour taste and creamy texture.
Classic – Made with an avocado base, this one was my favourite and reminded me a lot of hummus.
Pumpkin Nachos with Guacamole – LKR 1350
We were informed that these need to be eaten quickly when served, as it tends to lose its crispness due to lack of refined ingredients. I was surprised to find that the nacho, on its own, tasted very similar to a normal nacho with only the mildest taste of pumpkin. The guacamole that was drizzled on top was deliciously creamy and slightly sour and we later learned that other healthy ingredients like flax seeds and pumpkin seeds were added to it.
Thai Prawns with Sweet Potato Noodles and Lemongrass Coconut Dressing – LKR 1750
Upon first glance, the portions appear quite small and we were told that it was because the food was “ very filling”. The presentation is enough to distract from the portion size and it is evident a lot of care is taken to execute. The noodles are mixed with carrots and peas and is sweet and crunchier than normal noodles. The flavour takes a while to get used to because you are already expecting it to taste like the noodles that you have eaten for years. However, once that association is no longer there, the dish is quite pleasurable. The prawns were light, crispy and flavourful. The lemongrass coconut dressing is what really adds flavour to the dish. It is aromatic and spicy and its bright colour makes it even more appetising.
Pistachio Crepe Cake with Coconut Whipping Cream – LKR 825
I was really surprised at how tiny this was but that amount of dessert was more than enough to satisfy my normal sugar cravings after a meal. It also brought attention to how it is not necessary to stuff yourself with an entire tub of ice cream after a meal to satisfy a craving. The crepe, which is made out of arrowroot is delicate, fluffy and super thin and when layered with the coconut whipping cream, makes the dessert light and delightful. The dessert also leaves a heavy aftertaste of coconut which some might not particularly enjoy.
A lot of the food that we sampled took away the traditional flavour of things that we are used to but replaced them with other interesting flavours that made up for it. The Paleo diet can be on the higher end of the price range and while it is not affordable for everybody, it is definitely worth the nutritional value and health benefits. They could, however, work on portion size as anyone who is embarking on the diet for the first time is not used to eating a drastically reduced amount of food.
Tip – If you are trying out this diet for the first time, perhaps avoid exercise after. By the time I walked back to my apartment, I was starving again.