(click to enlarge)
This is a rice shop in Ambalangoda, Sri Lanka that sells a variety of the rices that make up a large portion of the Sri Lankan diet. When I visit there, I usually stay at a Buddhist temple in a small village on the southwest coast. The villagers bring food for the monks daily meal. The various curries and vegetables are ALWAYS accompanied by an 8 liter bucket full of cooked rice. This feeds 3 monks, 2 young novices and any visitors or guests (such as myself). A large bag of rice is generally available at the temple from which villagers temporarily down on their luck can draw enough to prepare a simple meal.
Padi rice fields abound along these coastal regions. The polished white rice is generally shipped to the large cities such as Colombo, but in the villages a rough red rice is preferred (by me, too) and is considerably more nutritious.
There used to be about 400 varieties of rice in Sri Lanka.
Different rices grew well in different locations, and different rices were suitable for different needs — from hard working farmers to growing children.
Just fifty years ago there were 280 varieties. Now many are lost and only about 15 are cultivated.
Unfortunately there is now widespread planting of hybrid varieties of rice in Sri Lanka, as well as the normal widespread use of pesticides. Hybrid varieties do not produce seed for planting, new seed must be bought.
Fortunately there is now a strong organic rice movement in Sri Lanka — but so far organic rice is grown mainly for export!