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Newest Project, 'Hela Viru Rasa Udanaya' to Showcase Army Culinary Skills at Matara

The newly-introduced ‘Hela Viru Rasa Udanaya’ project of the Sri Lanka Army which showcases culinary skills and arts of Army personnel is to make its second debut at Matara Beach Road during Sept 25 - 28, 2014, so said Major General U.A.B Medawela, Commander, Security Force Headquarters - West (SFHQ-West) at a media briefing, held at the Media Centre of the Ministry of Defence on Wednesday (17).

“The success of the pioneering project in April this year at Nuwara Eliya with a record 93,000 visitors to the stalls, encouraged Army chefs and culinary experts to have the second of its kind at Matara where the exhibition with exotic and varying food varieties, specific to respective regions and localities would be placed for public display with exquisite designs and unforgettable flavours,” he added.

This mega exhibition of food varieties is open to the public free of charge on all days beginning 11.00 a.m. (except on the first day) and expects to attract at least 75,000 visitors who are interested in the exceptional project, came into being as another innovative measure, proposed by the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake.

“At Matara, the Army organizers are to release a new book on ‘food varieties’ at a reasonable price. Five buyers of the new book will receive a full paid weekend family holiday package, offered by Army Holiday Resorts at Diyatalawa, Weerawila, Minneriya, Anuradhapura or Jaffna free of charge,” Major General Medawela further added.

The inauguration of the food festival takes place on Sept 25 after a grand ceremony, attended by military top brass.    

Army Battalions, stationed in all corners of the island, would present varying culinary habits, specific to respective areas by preparing those dishes at Matara, enabling the visitors to enjoy the exclusive ‘regional’ flavours, prepared by Army chefs, the briefing was told.

Confectionaries such as Bondi Aluwa, Patta Aluwa, Patta Dodol, Kurahan Thalapa and Aanama, Kirala Drinks, etc are now fast disappearing along with many other local vegetable and sweet meat varieties. ‘Hela Viru Rasa Udanaya’ in this way is an attempt to revive these culinary habits, Major General Medawela said.    

The project, meant to enlighten the public on the quality and nutritional value of those foods from different corners of the island, highlight the importance of using indigenous food varieties at local level, explore possibilities for introducing those foods to new markets and showcase culinary skills of Army personnel which remained, not very exposed to the general public, will continue until Sept 28 around the popular Beach Road at Matara.

This is a novel approach to resurrect fast dying food varieties, educate the public on use of traditional food varieties, encourage the public to analyze qualitative ingredients in such foods with the cooperation of nutritionists and cooks on hand through practical demonstrations, the Media gathering was told.

Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake, well aware of myriad food varieties, being prepared across the country by the troops, expects to make it a regular feature in the Army calendar. Commander of the Army also intends to popularize those dishes among the general public as well as among troops outside those regions in order to maintain high levels of health and physical fitness.

All varieties of those rare and exclusive food items, prepared then and there are sold at concessionary rates with special discounts to school students. At the venue, chefs from the Army-owned Laya Hotel Chain will add colour by preparing Chinese and Middle East dishes.        

Funds generated by the project are to be utilized for the greater benefit of the soldiers and members of their families, including those who have turned disable.

Army music bands, including Calypso teams would provide rhythmic beats to the exhibition venue on all 4 days.

Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera, Director, Directorate of Media was also present at the briefing.