Kelum’s lunch is a palette of colour

It’s usually not a complicated meal, just rice with perhaps two or three vegetables, sometimes accompanied by fish.

Anusha, 39, is getting ready to cook lunch. Her meals are eagerly awaited by her three sons, who say their mother’s cooking is delicious.

On the menu today is rice, fish curry, green leaves for salad and her youngest son Kelum’s favourites, dhal (lentil) curry, and beetroot.

“All three boys just love dhal curry and they could eat it for all their meals,” explains Anusha.

The vegetables are fresh, bought from the vegetable shop nearby their home. Fish is something of a treat, given its cost.

“Usually, we have dry fish with rice and maybe two or three vegetables,” explains Anusha. “But today my husband managed to get some good fish for a good price.”

Anusha is extremely quick and her skills could be matched to the best chefs in town.

She adds green chilies, red chili powder, curry leaves, roasted curry powder, saffron, tamarind, coconut milk and salt for the curry dishes and freshly scraped coconut, green chili, saffron, salt and lime to the salad. The ingredients are readily available in any small store.

Soon, Anusha has produced a brightly hued, nutritious and fantastically aromatic meal for her family.

Her three sons Kavishka, 13, Kavindu, 11, and Kelum, 7, are all rather hungry when they return from school.

“I think lunch is an important meal because the energy the children get from their breakfast is spent by noon,” says Anusha. “Lunch helps them to get some energy back for the rest of the day and they can relax and eat their food without having to rush too much.”

On school days, the children eat lunch by 2pm, but during vacation, like today, the children eat by 1pm.

Asked if he likes to eat his lunch, Kelum nods his head. “I’m a little hungry when I come home from school and my mother’s food is tasty.”

For Anusha too, lunch is a meal she looks forward to because as she says, mornings are always a rush with getting ready for school. “Lunch is a time when I can supervise their meals and we talk about what happens at school.”

The family lives in Wattala on the west coast of Sri Lanka. All three children are sponsored through World Vision programmes and have received school supplies and participated in essay competitions and other activities organized by the programme in their village.