Fragrant notes of spice waft from the window of Lal’s Fork, the food truck on the TwispWorks campus, the earthy steam providing a welcome contrast to the mounds of snow.
Lal Sigiriya (his formal name is Sanjaya Warnakulasuriyage) and his wife, Heather McLean, bought Fork this fall and reopened in early October with an exotic Sri Lankan menu of wholesome curries, vegetables, lentils and flavorful flat breads.
The diverse menu features a delectable assortment of main dishes and snacks from Sri Lanka for lunch and dinner. Chicken curry and dahl (lentils simmered in coconut milk) are always available. There’s also a daily selection of vegetable curries, plus meat choices such as beef or pork. Curries are served with basmati rice.
Samosas (flour pastries with a filling of potatoes and onions, chicken or beef) are served with a slightly spicy dipping sauce.
There are also lighter dishes — kahdele (garbanzo bean with coconut, chilis, mustard seeds and spices) and roti (coconut flat bread that’s delicious on its own or paired with curry or yummy lentil fritters called wa-de).
In the summer, Lal will add more curries and vegetable dishes. Many offerings are vegan.
Lal still features favorite dishes from Fork’s previous incarnation. The menu includes a fried chicken sandwich on brioche; chicken teriyaki bowl; and fresh, hand-cut French fries. There’s even grilled cheese for kids.
Everything is made fresh, with as many organic ingredients as possible. Lal makes all his own spice mixes from imported Sri Lankan ingredients.
As the weather warms up, Lal will source produce from local farmers and grow some of his own vegetables. He’s already growing a small tree for the pungent curry leaves he uses in his dishes.
Lal grew up in Sri Lanka and came to the United States in 2016. He moved to the Methow after meeting McLean, whose family has been in the valley for four generations.
Rich food heritage
Many people have tasted Indian or Thai curries, but Sri Lankan food has its own rich tradition, combining a dozen fresh-ground spices. Typical spices include turmeric, roasted curry, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, garlic, onions, and Lal’s home-grown curry leaves. Some dishes are flavored with unsweetened coconut and coconut milk.
While Lal’s food is intensely flavorful, it’s not spicy. People who desire more chilis and spice can add hot sauce that Lal makes himself. He’s happy to offer samples to people unfamiliar with Sri Lankan food.
In Sri Lanka, people typically top rice with five different curries and combine them to their own tastes as they eat. “Every bite is different — it’s kind of magical,” McLean said.
Lal comes to Fork with a deep background in the food business. He learned many of his recipes from his mother in Sri Lanka, where he developed extensive experience cooking for traditional events (it’s customary there for hundreds of people to gather for weddings, parties and funerals, and Lal would prepare a feast to feed all the guests).
He ran a food truck in Moab, Utah, that specialized in vegan curries.
It’s a rare treat to have Sri Lankan food in the Methow, McLean said. When she and Lal traveled up the west coast from California, they saw only one Sri Lankan restaurant, she said.
People can check out the menu for Lal’s Fork at www.forktwisp.com. They can order online or by phone at (509) 557-0977, or stop by the food truck on the TwispWorks campus. Winter hours are noon to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Lal’s Fork also provides catering services.