Trading Spices

Cindy Sargon: 26th September 2015

For the real spice of life there’s only one place to visit in St Kilda. Araliya is plating up some seriously seasoned Sri Lankan specialties. Chef Sam Wedande, originally from Sri Lanka, creates dishes with a modern spin. He uses only high quality local ingredients infused with the spices that Sri Lanka is well known for: coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. There is an extensive wine list to accompany your meal and if you’re wondering what to order from the menu – why not try the free range egg roti omelette with goat’s cheese or the spice crusted fish with tamarind. The spice is always right at Araliya – so make your way over and find out why.


Araliya: a sleek St Kilda staple

Review from Chloe Booker –

854290_LargeTHE VIBE \ A sleeker version of the recently shut Hawthorn Araliya, it has combined the familiar service its customers know and love with a more current experience.

THE DÉCOR \ The long, warmly lit space has wooden tables set on a polished concrete floor, edged with comfortable leather banquettes strewn with colourful cushions.

THE CROWD \ East-siders missing Sam Wedande’s exquisite cooking and a few south-siders who are starting to catch on.

THE FOOD \ After more than 30 years in Hawthorn, Sam has perfected his European-trained technique with traditional Sri Lankan cooking. At St Kilda he’s developed more experimental dishes to success. The wagyu brisket is knock-you-over heavenly, the vegetarian nirvana does justice to its name and the chocolate mousse with sweet potato custard is equally transcending.

THE DRINK \ House cocktails and mocktails team with an extensive wine and beer list.

THE VERDICT \ This should become a south-side staple.



Sometimes, when we are very lucky foodies, we get a special invitation to join a table of similar foodie friends to enjoy a special night with a specially selected Chef’s menu. When we were invited down to Araliya we were excited to hear there was a Sri Lankan restaurant just nearby in St Kilda. The lovely owners and founders of Araliya, Sam and Dee Wedande, originally feeding Hawthorn for many years officially opened Araliya in June 2014, with Sam in the kitchen as executive chef and Dee managing front of house.

The Araliya philosophy is to serve contemporary dishes drawing from high quality local ingredients and infused with the spices for which Sri Lanka is well known: coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Sam creates his own recipes, refining the cuisine he was born into with the best of ingredients and every dish that comes out of his kitchen is of the best possible quality.

It is a seriously cold, wintery night when we rock up to all the smiling faces at Araliya, there is a real warm, family feel to the place and the smells from the kitchen get us all excited straight away. Our resident mixologist Dam is already with tastings of his favourite cocktails for the night. The Strawberry Sorbet with Strawberry liquer, vodka and a decent smash of fresh chilli and the Basil Martini with lime, lemon and fresh basil sorbet. The sorbet idea means you get a far more measured hit of flavour and there are a fantastic start to a wonderful night.

The Lamb Frikkadels with Mint sauce, made with lamb mince, fresh bread crumbs and served with a homemade mint sauce were so tasty. The sort of dish you want to order a pile of them and enjoy with a cold beer.

The Steamed cabbage rolls with banana blossom and chilli jam were unbelievably tasty and even more unbelievably vegetarian! The Banana blossom was so full of flavour and texture I think my new friend at the table thought I was trying to trick him when I said there was no meat.

Scallops in a hopper, was probably one of my favourite dishes, probably just because of the name!! A carefully sculpted rice flour pancake, holding previous cargo of delicately cooked scallops with lime leaves and light spices – just beautiful.

The roti roll packed with brisket, all succulent and falling apart from a slow braise in Sam’s kitchen would be one of my favourites and if anyone had offered to pack me up a batch for lunch the next day I would have jumped at the chance – it was divine.

The confit pork belly rolled in an aromatic roasted spicy coat with tamarind, peanuts, rock melon and green papaya salad was fabulous, the salad was to die for with the sweet, sour, spicy and so fresh and then the perfected cooked pork belly….. oh yes!!

Vegetarian Nirvana was one of the best vegetarian options I have seen for a while, even the biggest meat eater might get food envy on this one! Four little bowls of vegetarian delights served with unhulled red rice, I have never had this before but I love it! This mini banquet all to yourself would make for the happiest veggie in town!

The Araliya Milawa Chicken curry with cardamom, cinnamon and cloves was a gorgeous dish, comforting and wholesome with succulent chicken bathed in a delicately spiced sauce – just perfect with fluffy white rice.

Another beautiful and healthy dish was the steamed fish with mirin, soy, young ginger, coriander and lime. A perfectly lovely execution of super fresh ingredients with nothing to hide.

I’m not much of a dessert person but Araliya pretty much converted me with their milk chocolate mousse with sweet potato custard, salted caramel and hazelnut crumble. Firstly the most divine, luscious chocolate mousse and even more of a surprise the sweet potato custard that I was sceptical about but it was beautiful. Incredibly smooth, sweet and a great match with the chocolate – seriously if you love desserts you will want to try this one!

And finally the delicate steamed coconut custard with banana sorbet, wibbly, wobbly, beautiful custard with super soft sorbet.

What an amazing treat and seriously wonderful food, we can’t recommend Araliya enough for a great place to relax, eat and enjoy. Bit it you can’t make it there you can whip up a little something with Sam’s recipe below.

Devilled prawns 500g prawns 1 tsp garlic, ginger (finely chopped) 1 onion (finely chopped) 4 lime leaves 2 dry chillies (seeds removed, sliced) 2 tomatoes (finely chopped) Coconut oil (or vegetable oil) Lime leaves (shredded) Salt and pepper

Method Clean the prawns and season. Heat oil in a pan and seal the prawns. Remove from pan. Add onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chillies and cook to a paste. Add a little water if necessary.  Season the paste, add sealed prawns and lime leaves.





Posted by in St Kilda on 06/08/2015


  • Chasing a Plate dined as guests of Araliya

    My strongest memory of Sri Lankan food takes place in San Francisco where two friends and I shared a small studio room at the Gaylord Hotel for three months. Our kitchen consisted of a metre long bench housing a sink and a single element, portable stove. The only two dishes ever cooked in our one frypan? Scrambled eggs and Sri Lankan fish cutlets. Whenever Shenali was homesick for her mother’s cooking we would set up an assembly line, she would roll the mixture of potato, tuna and spices and I would dip them in egg and breadcrumbs before they were shallow fried in the pan. The room may have stunk of fish and spice for a week after each session, but my God it was worth it.

    It’s been a while since my last Sri Lankan fix and our recent visit to Araliya in St Kilda hammered home that this tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean has a phenomenal cuisine. And I need more of it in my life, pronto.

    Having spent 30 years at the original Araliya in Hawthorn, owners Sam and Dee Wedande have turned their efforts to the St Kilda restaurant following the closure of the Hawthorn eatery (the lease ended). The restaurant is sleek and modern in decor and the menu offers diners the opportunity to enjoy contemporary dishes using traditional Sri Lankan flavours.


    We start with an array of small bites; lamb frikkadels, a crumbed minced lamb patty infused with chilli, mint and cumin and perfectly seared scallops drizzled with a lightly spiced sauce which rest in a soft centred but crisp edged hopper (a kind of rice flour pancake). Steamed cabbage rolls are filled with a fragrant mix of banana blossom and chilli jam and the wayu wrapped roti is crisp and the filling packed full of flavour.





    We move onto the larger plates; steamed fish which has Japanese accents of mirin, soy and ginger is delicate and fresh and the pork belly which is dipped in a sticky tamarind peanut sauce melts in the mouth. We sample a chicken curry, Araliya style and find it rich with the flavours of cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. The Milawa chicken pieces are tender and hold up to the thick sauce well. The vegetarian nirvana is one of the highlights, a medley of four vegetable dishes of the day, red rice and condiments. We eat gently fried, spiced kipfler potatoes, a rich lentil curry, shredded brussels sprouts and a bean and cashew curry. Delicious.





    We end with a silky smooth banana custard accompanied by an intensely flavoured banana sorbet and a milk chocolate mousse with a sweet potato custard, salted caramel and hazelnut crumble.



    If you’re new to Sri Lankan cuisine then Araliya will turn you into an addict and for those who have been searching for an authentic spot to recommence their education of the cuisine, you might just find your new favourite in Araliya. Modern food with reassuringly traditional roots.

    Good to know:

    Lamb frikkadels $11 Scallops in a hopper $22 Steamed cabbage rolls $8 Vegetarian Nirvana $26 Steamed fish $19/$36 Pork Belly $17/$28 Araliya chicken $29 Steamed coconut custard and banana sorbet $15 Milk chocolate mousse and sweet potato custard $15

    Araliya 157 Fitzroy Street St Kilda

    Telephone: +61 3 9078 6757

    Open for lunch Thursday to Sunday from midday Open for dinner Tuesday to Sunday 5:00pm to 10:30pm

    Images: Thomas Southam

Travel Writers Radio

From: Graeme Kemlo – Executive Producer & Host

Dear Sam,

Thank you for your kind hospitality last week.

The radio interview came up well, despite the background noise and it went to air last evening.

Here is a link to the interviews.

You can listen to the track or download it for your own use.

Also please feel free to forward the link to any of your customers friends etc.

Good luck with the restaurant. I have told many people about your food and I will come back with my wife to dine with you one day soon.

Kind regards


HOME-STYLE SRI LANKAN RECIPESam_1-e1439384368364-223x300

Posted: 12 Aug 2015

Sam Wedande has spent more than three decades delighting Melburnians with his contemporary take on spicy Sri Lankan food.

But the owner/chef at St Kilda’s Araliya says traditional Sri Lankan food celebrates spice and flavour, but meals always have the same staples –  a raw vegetable dish, a cooked legume, a protein dish, something fried and a carbohydrate like rice – and Sri Lankans eat this way three times a day.

These are Sam’s five favourite Sri Lankan dishes to cook at home.


Gotu kola (also known as Indian Pennywort) is a true superfood, with many medicinal qualities. The creeping plant (right) is native to parts of Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar and South Africa, but is also grown in tropical areas of Australia. Find it at Asian supermarkets.

Ingredients 200g gotu kola or if unable to source, substitute with curly parsley 1 small red onion (shredded finely) 2 green chillies (shredded finely) ½ cup shredded coconut 1 tomato (chopped) Salt and pepper Lime juice 1 tsp Maldive fish powder (optional)

Methodgotu kola Mix all the ingredients, except for the green leaves. Season well and add the finely shredded gotu kola last.


Ingredients 250g split mung beans 1 onion, finely chopped 1 tsp ginger, finely chopped 1 tsp garlic, finely chopped 2 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder 10 curry leaves 1 cup coconut milk Oil 2 dry chillies (seeds removed) 1 tsp mustard seeds Salt and lemon juice 1 tsp turmeric powder

Method Wash the mung beans and leave to drain. Heat oil, add onion, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, curry powder, mustard seeds, chillies and turmeric. Add mung beans, coconut milk, salt and slow cook till mung beans are soft. Add water if the mixture gets too dry. Once cooked, finish with lemon juice and serve with rice.


Ingredients 500g prawns, shells removed 1 tsp garlic, finely chopped 1 tsp ginger, finely chopped 1 onion. finely chopped 4 lime leaves 2 dry chillies,seeds removed, sliced 2 tomatoes, finely chopped Coconut oil (or vegetable oil) Lime leaves, shredded Salt and pepper

Method Clean the prawns and season. Heat oil in a pan and seal the prawns. Remove from pan. Add onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chillies and cook to a paste. Add a little water if necessary.  Season the paste, add sealed prawns and lime leaves.


Ingredients 250g fish, chopped roughly 2 boiled potatoes (keep warm) 1 green chilli, chopped Desiccated coconut 1 egg (medium) Flour 1 onion, finely chopped 10 curry leaves, chopped 1 tbs cumin 1 tbs fennel seeds, lightly roasted & crushed Salt and pepper Lemon juice Coconut oil 1 tbs ginger 1 tbs garlic 1 tsp turmeric powder

Method Heat oil and cook onion, curry leaves, ginger and garlic till lightly brown. Add fennel seeds, cumin and turmeric. Add the fish and season. Add boiled potato and mash it all with a potato masher. Rest the mixture. Form balls (about 25g) into cylinder shapes. Roll in plain flour, egg and coat with coconut. Deep fry to a golden colour, drain and serve hot.


Ingredients 2 cups rice ½ onion Oil 6 curry leaves 6 pods cardamom 1-2cm cinnamon stick, roughly crushed 1 tsp turmeric powder Salt 5 cups chicken stock (optional) ½ cup coconut milk

Method Heat oil and sauté onions, curry leaves, cardamom and cinnamon. Add raw rice and turmeric powder, and toss till rice is coated with oil. Add chicken stock (or water) and coconut milk. Liquid should be about 2.5cm above the rice level. Bring to boil, cover and simmer till the liquid is absorbed. Rest in the pot for about 20 minutes and serve.

Find St Kilda’s Araliya at 157 Fitzroy St, St Kilda (the new home of Araliya after several decades in Hawthorn).


After celebrating 30 years as Head Chef of Araliya Hawthorn, Sam Wedande has taken his chef hat to a new home in St Kilda.

A passionate chef who first introduced Sri Lankan flavours to Hawthorn in 1985, Wedande has cultivated a strong following across three generations for his spice infused contemporary dishes.
The new Araliya St Kilda is warm and inviting, yet sophisticated – Featuring textured wall panels, leather banquets and ottomans in the restaurant and two bespoke cocktail stations at a sleek looking bar which showcases an extensive wine list.
The menu features recipes created from the early days of Araliya Hawthorn that have proven to be timeless favourites as well as reinvented contemporary dishes, including a great selection of vegetarian and gluten free choices, with the spices Sri Lanka is famous for: coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.
We were pleased to find that the food served has a focus on locally sourced produce and is very reasonably priced.

Crusted fish – Saltbush, mandarin, cucumber, gambodge, tamarind
We particularly enjoyed the Crusted fish which was cooked to perfection. Wonderfully seared and boasting bold flavours of tamarind, it went well with the fresh accompanying salad of Saltbush, mandarin and cucumber.

Araliya Chicken – Milawa Chicken, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves
The Araliya Chicken was a show stopper. The juicy morsels of chicken were coated with moreish, rich and silky aromatic curry.
Pork Belly – tamarind peanuts, rockmelon, pickled papaya
The centrepiece course of pork belly continued the trend of stunning dishes that preceded it. The pork was moist on the underside and topped with a perfect crust of crispy crackling that was accentuated by tamarind peanuts. The rockmelon and pickled papaya provided a delectably unique and refreshing accompaniment to the pork.

Milk chocolate mousse, sweet potato custard, salted, caramel, hazelnut crumble
For dessert, the milk chocolate mousse with sweet potato custard stood out. The decadent creaminess of the mousse was echoed by the sweet potato custard. While the salted caramel added a desirable hint of salinity, the hazelnut crumble added interest with its perfectly crisp texture.
With a focus on classic Sri Lankan flavours but adding a few of twists along the way, Araliya is a delicious addition to St Kilda’s bustling food culture.
Location: 157 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
Phone: (03) 9078 6757
Link: Cuisine: Sri Lankan


Written by: THE FOOD SOCIETY on

After cultivating 30 years of experience at the helm of Araliya Hawthorn, Sri Lankan chef Sam Wedande has now moved the institution to the beachy suburb of St Kilda.

Drawing on three generations for his spice-infused dishes, the restaurant brings some wonderful recipes which represent a true celebration of both traditional and contemporary Sri Lankan techniques.

As Wendande explains, “On the menu, I’ve brought along some of the wonderful recipes that I created right from the early days of Araliya Hawthorn, that have proven to be timeless favourites. But I’ve also reinvented contemporary dishes, including a great selection of vegetarian and gluten free choices, with the spices Sri Lanka is famous for: coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.”

The space itself, which was designed by architect Emily Gilfillan, has a modern, sophisticated feel, and features textured wall panels, leather banquets and ottomans. There are two bespoke cocktail stations at a sleek bar, which showcases an extensive wine list.

IMG_7389IMG_7402IMG_7412The spices Sri Lanka is famous for (think coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves) feature prominently on the menu, with a number of the dishes a contemporary take on the classics.

A Sri Lankan hawker street food that is typically sold from the side of the road, hoppers are crispy, bowl-shaped pancakes made with rice flour and served with sambols and curries. Araliya’s version is a sophisticated take on the classic, jazzed up with the addition of perfectly cooked scallops and light spiceds.


IMG_7414IMG_7427We particularly enjoyed the crusted fish with mandarin, cucumber, gambodge and tamarind. The addition of pops of Australian native salt bush leaves was a welcome surprise, showing Melbourne’s multicultural food offering at its best.

Other highlights included the Araliya Milawa chicken and the pork belly, which was quite noticeably leaner than some of the other pork bellies we have tried, and which came with a refreshing salad of rock melon and pickled papaya.

IMG_7432IMG_7429IMG_7434Of our three desserts, the milk chocolate mousse with sweet potato custard was the highlight. Each mouthful of mousse and custard was more decadent than the next, with an almost ice-cream like consistency given further texture through pops of hazelnut crumble and thick salted caramel.

The night was a great showcase of Araliya’s ability to successfully bring another cultural flavour to the suburbs. The restaurant is a welcome addition to St Kilda’s vibrant dining scene.

The Food Society dined as a guest of Araliya.

Araliya: Menu Tasting


MELBOURNE | In St Kilda’s revitalised Fitzroy Street is Araliya, a restaurant specialising in cuisine maybe best described as Sri Lankan fusion, and The City Lane was invited to try it. If the name sounds familiar, perhaps you might have known its previous incarnation in Hawthorn, a 30-year staple for the area.

araliya st kilda review

I’ll admit that I didn’t visit their previous Hawthorn restaurant, and that I really don’t have a thorough understanding of what defines Sri Lankan food, but thankfully, neither of those things are actually a problem. Coming from award-winning Chef Sam Wedande, Araliya aims to bring together the pieces of what makes Sri Lankan cuisine, while at the same time bringing something modern and new and to the table.

But while tradition is at times only given a hat tip here, one thing that has lingered is the idea of sharing, and as I found out, it is through combinations that you’ll find the biggest rewards here.

Basil Martini

We started out with this sweet, vodka, lemon, and basil martini. It’s refreshing, strong, and quite fruity, and completely and utterly satisfying if you’re in need of a little revitalising. We had this in winter, but if it was summer, I suspect these would be walking out the door, even if you had trouble doing so.

araliya st kilda review

Chilli Chocolate Cocktail

Others at our table described this as a little like a cherry ripe, and it would be a very apt description were it not for the heavy hit of chilli throughout. If you take a sip of this as is, it will likely cause you to run away screaming when the chilli kicks in. This is a drink that favours the patient so instead, pick up a stirring stick, move the chocolate around at the bottom, and then take a long deep sip. The chilli will still be there of course, but it will be joined by everything else. We think you’ll enjoy this one.

araliya st kilda review

Beetroot-Cured Salmon, Sichuan Pickled Cucumber, Capers

This is a mild starter combining salmon and for a little extra kick, capers. It’s simple and I suspect probably not traditional Sri Lankan fare, but it works. And if you’re not a lover of beetroot, don’t worry, it’s more of a hint than anything.

araliya st kilda review

Steamed Cabbage Rolls

Continuing the theme of combinations are the cabbage rolls. They hit all the right buttons on their own, but make sure you pick up some chilli butter before you take a bite. Go without it and you’re really only getting half the taste.

araliya st kilda review

Scallops In A Hopper

When these appeared on the table we were joined by Chef Wedande who explained that the shell-like containers were hoppers, rice flour pancakes commonly used with, and I’m going to heavily paraphrase here, drunk or nightclub food in Sri Lanka. But in the same way as a drunk food ingredient like pita bread can be used greatly for other things, Wedande has used these with scallops to make something a little different.

araliya st kilda review

During the gap between the the starters and the mains we had a chat with Wedande. ‘Food is evolving’, he tells us when we ask him about his recipes, and there’s a real belief in this statement. After 30 years as a chef, Wedande is still curious about what he can come up with next. For example, on one particular salad a fellow guest asked him what a peculiar ingredient was. The answer? A coastal plant called saltbush. He also frequents the markets around Melbourne but he admits that a lot of what he finds he doubts he will find again. Although for Wedande, this instead becomes a chance to make something new for the week. It’s this kind of thrill that seems to drive the chef, and in our opinion, is also what makes this place a little exciting.

But moving on to the mains. For this part of the course, a large selection of sides such as Asian greens, beetroot and turnip with curry leaves, and green beans with cashew nuts were offered, along with the meat dishes, but as everything is combined, I’m going to look at it all through the lens of the meat dishes.

araliya st kilda review

Steamed Fish

As you would expect, this was something quite spicy, but quite unique all the same. On speaking with the chef about this, he informed me that the restaurant’s approach is that they would prefer to run out of fish than for it not to be fresh. So, if you arrive looking for fish, make sure you get in early.

araliya st kilda review

Pork Belly

This came highly recommended, and given the almost-insane popularity of pork belly these days, it’s not surprising. In this dish, combining peanuts, rockmelon, and pickled papaya, the pork belly was tender in the middle, but with thick and at-times tough edges, which I’ll admit, sounds like a negative, but actually made it more akin to a roast.

Araliya Chicken

Despite it’s simplicity, it was the chicken I kept returning to throughout the main course. It was cooked well, and while it wasn’t the flashiest of the courses, with the addition of the chilli, because everything is about combinations, it was for me the most balanced.

When the squabbles were over and the last of the mains were done, dessert was served. Our host for the evening had spoke highly of this, but based on the ingredients she had described, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Steamed Coconut Custard And Banana Sorbet

Elegantly displayed, when this first appeared, we a little apprehensive to take it apart. However, what we found was that when you finally bite the bullet and do it, it pays to take a little of all the pieces. It wasn’t my favourite desert (see below for that), but it certainly set a pretty high standard.

araliya st kilda review

Chilli And Ginger, Roasted Pineapple, Basil Sorbet

When I was a kid, the idea of pineapple with anything was enough to make me run for the hills. It always seemed like the least interesting part of the fruit salad. Thankfully, this has an interesting twist, offering a sizeable infused hit of chilli and ginger. It’s pretty intense so I wouldn’t recommend going solo on this one, but if you’ve got a group, this might be a nice addition.

araliya st kilda review

Chocolate Mousse And Sweet Potato Custard

Our night finished with this. It had been mooted from the beginning of the meal, and it didn’t disappoint. But like many of the meals at Araliya, this finds its strength when in combination. The mousse on its own is great, as is the unexpected sweet potato custard, but when combined in a single bite it brings something genuinely interesting. The flower is a nice touch too, but perhaps avoid eating that.

araliya st kilda review

It’s been a long road for Araliya, and based on our conversations with the chef, it has been a road paved with experimentation. But that is kind of the charm here. They’re planning for a brunch menu soon, which could be a first for a Melbourne Sri Lankan restaurant, and Chef Wedande seems keen on keeping the rules suitably bent.

We like it here. It is a restaurant that clearly doesn’t follow the crowd, and has no interest in doing so. If you’re in St Kilda, this is an opportunity on your doorstep; if you’re anywhere else, there’s a tram stop just down the road.

araliya st kilda review


157 Fitzroy Street St Kilda Victoria 3182 Australia