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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for 6 Ancient Cooking Tools Sri Lanka's can't do Without – Well Preserved Traditions
Joanna James Joanna James
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6 Ancient Cooking Tools Sri Lanka's can't do Without – Well Preserved Traditions

In many Sri Lankan homes there is a traditional outer kitchen where cooking utensils from days of yore adorn the simple walls. These serve many purposes and aid in preparing traditional curries.


The Humble Curry Pot

The best utensil for cooking a spicy curry is the curry pot or wallang, as it's called locally is fashioned out of clay and comes complete with a clay lid and some decorations on the side. These are the fancier version of the wallang and can be sent straight to the dining table. A curry pot is used to cook single dishes such as chicken curry, beef, pork, vegetables and even some stir fries. It is believed the clay enhances the taste of the food and cooks it evenly. A clay pot can be placed directly on the flame and is suitable for an outside fireplace or gas stove.


The Versatile Stringhopper Press

Stringhoppers famous across the island are stringy steamed rice noodle cakes. The art of creating the disc-shaped strings is reliant on the workings of the stringhopper press. A mix of rice flour dough is pressed through a metal tube with tiny holes at the bottom. The strings that come out this end are twirled in a circle onto a waiting mat and steamed. Locally the metal tube is called an indiappan wangediya and is quite versatile in creating other stringy delights such as murukku deep fried gram paste threads mixed with peanuts, garlic and fried curry leaves.


The Good Old Grinding Stone

This is the equivalent to the electric grinder. Locally called the miris gala this utensil consists of a stone slab and oblong shaped rolling pin. Ingredients such as onions, garlic, lime juice, maldive fish flakes and chillies are placed on the stone slab before being crushed by the rolling pin style stone cylinder. It is an essential utensil for making the ever-popular coconut relish and lunu miris, an onion relish eaten with milk rice, hoppers and other local dishes.


Finger Millet Grinder – Mortar and Pestle

The ancient wan gediya and mol gaha is an essential tool in the local kitchen. This two-part tool helps pound rice into flour as well as other ingredients. The machine is a stone pot into which ingredients are placed before being pounded by a long round wooden pole. According to ancient legend, the grinder must be washed and cleaned after each use and the pole kept outside of the grinder at the end of each day's work. Kalutara hotels in Sri Lanka, are an ideal base for touring the charming southern villages where many of these ancient tools are used while Spice Spoons at the Anantara Kalutara Resort offers cookery classes in traditional local dishes for tourists eager to master the art of blending exotic spices and herbs.


The Coconut Scraper

The hiramanaye or coconut scraper is an essential in any Sri Lankan kitchen. This tool aids in scraping out the sweet flesh of the coconut which is used in just about any local dish. The scraper is attached to a table and a hand crank turns the round serrated edged scraper head; on to which a halved coconut is placed.


Clay Water Jug

This is a water jug made of clay. It has a long narrow neck and rounded body which makes pouring out the water easy. The idea of the guruleththuwa is to keep the water cool. The porous material allows the water to cool in the night air while the clay absorbs any impurities. Still, it is a tradition for water to be boiled before being poured into the jug.

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