I need to get myself a raksha.
These traditional Sri Lankan masks, which depict various demons, are apotropaic - used to ward off evil - and are worn at festivals and cultural occasions.
I feel that if I’d hung one of them on my front door, I might not have been struck down with the mother of all colds, just before a week off work.
Unfortunately, the traditional rhinovirus, though thankfully not its bullying big brother Covid, came a-knocking while I set my out-of-office message.
Thus, my visit to this new place, in the Bonnie & Wild market at St James Quarter, had to be postponed, until I was feeling better on the last day of my holiday. I believe they call that sod's law.
Pronounced “kochee” and named after a chilli pepper, Scotland’s first Sri Lankan street food business is owned by Glasgow-based thirty-somethings, Suki Jayaratne and Shehan Fernando. Their converted horse box has been popping up all over the place, but they’ve now set up beside Radge Chaat in this venue, where there have been a few recent changes, including a new Stack & Still pancake place and the announcement of Gary Maclean’s impending addition, Soup and Caboodle.
Along with this opening, Kochchi are riding high on being named People’s Choice winners of the Scottish Street Food Awards 2022.
To find them, look out for the bright orange sign, and the raksha logo. It has its tongue sticking out, and bulging eyes. I wouldn't mess.
Surprisingly, the current menu seems a bit shorter than their usual street food offering, with none of their loaded fries.
There are just variations on their classic kotthu curry, and hoppers, so we went for both of those.
I was after some heat, but also a bit of post-viral amber nectar, so I ordered a plum whisky sour (£9) from Bonnie & Wild’s bar, Hauf & Howff. It was a welcome combo of Naked Malt, plum syrup and a vitamin-c injection of lemon juice. My dining partner went for the punchy fizz that is Bon Accord Ginger Beer (£3.95), and we waited for the buzzer to zap us and indicate that our food tray was ready to collect.
I’ve had their kotthu before, though the kitchen set up at Bonnie & Wild means you miss out on the theatrical element of this dish being made. It usually involves chopping with two blades, to slice a roti and various vegetables, like carrots, cabbage and spring onion, into thin strands.
You can go for a chicken version, or veg, cheese or cauliflower, but we'd chosen black pork (£11.50). There were bits of meat in the lime-topped mound, but also some chunks, which were a bit fatty and feral, but had good flavour, in the surrounding moat of fragrant and tangy sauce.
This dish had a fair Scoville Unit whack of chilli in it, which will hopefully make my body a hostile environment for any other prospective viruses that might be casing it out.
The Ceylon chicken curry hopper (£8.50) is a rather beautiful thing. It’s a savoury crepe, made from rice flour and coconut milk, but is formed into a little bowl with delicately frilly and crispy edges. You could also wear it as a bonnet.
This comes without an additional egg, for just £7, but we weren’t going to miss out on that soft yolk-middled addition. On top of the egg, which had been cooked in the edible container, there were also pads of soft poultry, which were non-saucy, but still spicy, a dollop of coconut sambal and some feathery spiced caramelised onions. We licked the bowl clean, then ate it too. It’s not often you get to do that. I’ve tried it after my morning cereal, but it hurts my teeth.
Since they’ve also just added a branch of Cairngorm coffee to the Bonnie & Wild portfolio, we finished with a flat white (£3.20) and a cortado (£2.80) from one of our favourite Edinburgh roasteries. Pudding was a chocolate and custard pepito (£3), which is like a pain au chocolate, but with added vanilla custard in its sugary middle. There was also a dense and treacle-y coffee and candied pecan loaf (£3.50), with a caffeine hit in the butter icing.
Thank you to them, and to Kochchi for saving the last day of my holiday.
I’m gluing a raksha to my front door immediately.