310 - Discover Sri Lankan delights downtown

By Lauren Gosnell

Toronto is home to one of the largest Sri Lankan populations in the world outside of Sri Lanka.

While the majority have settled in Scarborough, there still remains a small community in Cabbagetown. You can see evidence in the neighbourhood by the beautiful Tamil writing on local businesses and shops like Ambal Trading.

Ambal is the number one downtown destination for authentic Sri Lankan ingredients like hopper mix, fiery hot chilies and even baby shark. Ambal's aisles are full of curry pastes, Ceylon teas and spices galore. The store also sells fresh produce and fish.

An essential ingredient in Sri Lankan cooking is dried Maldive fish chips. Maldive fish is added to Sri Lankan curries to intensify the natural flavours of any dish and gives it that certain distinguishing characteristic unique to Sri Lankan cuisine.

At the back of Ambal, you can find fresh fish daily. Among the more interesting selections is the baby shark - a traditional restorative for postpartum women. Sharks are believed to be packed with vitamins and nutrients.

HoppersSri Lanka's famous hopper crêpes can be a time-consuming labour of love if made from scratch the old-fashioned way by fermenting rice-flour batter for several hours. You can save yourself some time by using an instant mix along with a handy non-stick pan - just right for creating those whimsical bowl shapes.

Ambal is also the place to get real cinnamon. Much of the cinnamon we purchase is not in fact true cinnamon but cassia – a similarly flavoured but much more abundant Asian variety. Cinnamon originated from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and was highly prized by the Portuguese in the spice trade. You can tell the difference by looking at the two sticks at a cross section. True cinnamon has many delicate layers whereas cassia cinnamon looks more like thick rolled bark.

Ambal Trading
591 Parliament St.
Toronto ON