28 Sep 2020

Sri Lankan food inspired by 'Seela'

From Nine To Noon, 11:37 am on 28 September 2020

Romesh Dissanayake, head chef at Wellington restaurant Glass, is hosting a (sold out) Sri Lankan-inspired dinner event called Seela as part of this month's Visa Wellington on a Plate festival.

He tells Kathryn Ryan the event is inspired by and named after his Sri-Lankan grandmother who first introduced him to the cuisine.

"My grandmother is cheeky and rebellious and joyful and it's those elements of her character that we try to highlight."

Romesh, who is of Sri Lankan and Korean heritage, lived in Sri-Lanka for a couple of years as a child, then moved back in his 20s to work as a chef at an Ayurvedic eco-lodge.

Traditionally, Sri Lankan meals are centred around rice and often involve seafood, Romesh says, but at Glass, he cooks his personal take on the cuisine.

"Eating together, eating with your hands, loud music and not super-pretty food but delicious food – that's what it's all about."

The first Seela event, which Romesh co-hosted, was held last year at Wellington restaurant Rita – his workplace at the time and all profits were donated to the relief effort for the  It Sri Lankan Easter Bombings, which occurred a couple of days earlier.

So what can Wellington diners expect on the two upcoming Seela nights?

"It'll be loud and spicy and messy and fun. What we're trying to do is not give people a crash course in Sri Lankan food but make it like you're having a meal at your grandma's house."


  • Sri Lankan food. Sai Yoganahtan. A Kitchen Well-Traveled
  • Kitchen Stories: Ishna Iftikar cooks Sri Lankan food
  • WISE women serve up delicious world cuisine