We are here with some great news! If you are planning to visit the island in April, luck is on your side. In Sri Lanka, literally the month of April is dedicated to celebrate the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. For a rice-loving nation, the Solar New Year is the highlight of its rich festive calendar. However, this festival is characterized by the many traditional sweetmeats and food of the season – the best part about the New Year. Sweet and savoury, soft and crunchy, they are a must try in the month of April. This season, you are excused to be unapologetic about wolfing down calories galore- avurudu sweetmeats. So, here are some of the favourite New Year sweetmeats of Sri Lankans.
Milk Rice or Kiribath
Made with rice cooked in coconut milk, and eaten with a spicy onion sambal-lunu miris or jaggery, milk rice is the first meal of the New Year. As the very first meal of the New Year, kiribath is prepared in a new clay pot over a sputtering open fire. Once cooked, it will be cut into diamond shapes. The fusion of creamy milk rice and flavorful lunu miris makes the perfect combo.
A classic Sri Lankan sweetmeat that adores the New Year table. Also known as oil cakes, this sweet delicacy possesses an odd shape with a little mound on top of each oil cake and perfecting this little lump requires some skills and experience. Prepared with fine rice flour and jaggery or kitul palm treacle and deep fried in coconut oil, konda kevum is loved all over the island.
Bringing colour into the festive table is “aasmi.” This is honeycomb shaped and decorated with caramelized sugar syrup in pink or brown. The batter used to make aasmi is an interesting mix of rice flour, davul kurundu– a variety of cinnamon, sugar and coconut milk. Using a circular motion, the batter is poured in a thin stream straight onto hot oil to form a latticed pancake, which is folded over and drained. Then it would be fried and sugared after the second frying.
A crunchy biscuit kind of finger food, kokis is a staple of the New Year table. A special mound known as “Kokis Achchuva” is used to fry them into various shapes such as butterflies, flowers and mangoes. The batter of these crispy golden nibbles are made from rice flour and a dash of turmeric power and salt. Even though this is considered as a traditional Sri Lankan snack, the long held belief is that the word ‘kokis’ itself has been derived from the Dutch-termed ‘cookies’.
A sweet-spicy concoction, aggala is prepared with freshly pounded rice flour with a pinch of black pepper to add a spicy kick. A dollop of warm treacle is added and the mixture is shaped into tiny balls. Once they are cooled off, they are coated with a thick layer of rice flour. Aggala has a sharp peppery edge- ideal to enjoy with a steaming cuppa.
Yet another crunchy delight that adorns the New Year table, Murukku can be either savoury or sweet and comes in many shapes. Murukku is prepared using different flours including rice flour, chickpea flour and ulundu flour. A thick paste would be made with the flour adding ghee and spices such as chili flakes and pepper. Then the paste is hand-shaped or passed through a mold to get coil shapes or wide strips, and finally deep-fried until golden brown.