This fortuitous pairing of doctor and chef is responsible for the culinary creations at Santani, which incorporate the six tastes that should come with every meal.
Moving away from the lake-pocked plains around Kandalama, I head two hours south to Santani Wellness Retreat for a culinary experience rooted in Ayurvedic principles. A key element of Ayurveda is health through nutrition, and Santani’s commitment to holistic wellbeing extends to the personalized menus created for each guest over the course of their stay. These are determined by a private consultation and diagnosis by the resident Ayurvedic expert, Dr. Ravi Sooraj. ”
“Unfortunately, Ayurveda is treated like a fad now, and is applied in a patchwork manner,” he tells me. “When it doesn’t work, people criticize the entire system. If it is not applied in a holistic manner, then you won’t get holistic results.”
To develop a gourmet Ayurvedic menu, Dr. Sooraj works closely with Santani’s executive chef, Wajira Gamage, who spent 16 years in France honing his skills. This fortuitous pairing of doctor and chef is responsible for the culinary creations at Santani, which incorporate the six tastes that should come with every meal: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and astringent.
Meals at Santani are as delicious as they are nourishing. The relatively soft flavors of a green vegetable soup prepare me for the herby punch of the excellent grilled sea mullet that follows; this is balanced by the earthiness of a mushroom and quinoa risotto. A hibiscus jelly and citrus fruit salad caps off this light but satisfying meal. Santani’s digital-free environment provides ample space for self-reflection, and by the end of my stay I feel healthy, balanced, and full of respect for the ways local chefs are showcasing the produce of the Sri Lankan soil.
Santani Wellness Retreat ; 94/76-399-1919; doubles from US$347.
This article originally appeared in the December 2017/January 2018 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Bearing Fruit”).