If you’re planning to visit Sri Lanka for your upcoming holidays and dreaming about the times you would have while sipping a Lion Strong beer and lighting up a gold leaf cigarette by the beach (which is amazing by the way) , you also need to plan to make the best out of it for the time you are in Sri Lanka. This basically includes places to visit, food to give a shot, booze to test, and finally, lankan fruits to try.
Yes we do have quite a number of fruits you might have never heard of. And for some reason, most of them tend to be sweet & sour. So why look for sour gummies? Have a Donga. (Sandoricum koetjape)
How many of the following do you even know?
01. Sandoricum koetjape (Local name: Donga)
A tropical fruit grown in Southeast Asia. If you’re lucky and happen to be in the season, you’d find these in the pavements of most of the cities. This is extremely sour but it does come with a sweet taste. Usually the merchant would cut off the fruit by half for you. Sprinkle some salt and chili powder and you’re good to go. Just remember that there’s a seed and only the flesh around it is edible.
Ideal for the people with the fetish ; hairy. This sweet and juicy fruit which looks like lychee after peeled off is native to Malay-Indonesian region and Southeast Asia. The taste is not as sour as ‘donga’ but it does have a sour taste to it. The sweetness of the Rambutan depends mostly on the price. The variety which costs higher would usually tastes sweeter and the flesh would be easy to taken off.
This is a must try.
03. Pebble Tamarind (Local name: Gal Siyambala)
If you’re planning to travel around the historical cities such as Sigiriya, Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa, it’s highly likely you would find these. Being a sweet and sour fruit again, this tiny fruit with a velvet exterior comes in small paper packets when they are on sale. You need to crack the thin exterior of the fruit to taste the interior of the fruit which is a soft brown flesh around a dark seed. After eating one whole packet of Gal Siyambala, you’d probably won’t feel your teeth. You could say that the taste is quite similar to Tamarind, but it’s sweeter and more powdery.
04. Lanzoens (Local name: Gaduguda)
Another sweet and sour fruit (see, I told you so) in Sri Lanka you can find in any local market. Luckily there’s no significant hard seed so you can just open up the exterior and eat the flesh. According to stethnews.com it comes with quite a number of health benefits since it consists of high fiber, antioxidants and riboflavin.
05. Rata Nelli
Belonging to the Indian Gooseberry family, this fruit differs from the typical Nelli by having a unique taste. The Indian Gooseberry however, has a taste which starts with bitter and then slowly changes to much sweeter. Although they both have the same color and texture, Rata Nelli is rather small and tastes sour with a tiny bit of sweetness. This has a soft chew-able seed which has quite a bitter taste so stick to eating the flesh and throwing away the seed. You can chop them or use a motar and pestle to crush these (this method is tastier). Add some salt and pepper and voila, you have your sour candy.
06. Syzygium caryophyllatum (local name: Dan)
This round, purple-black fruit which looks like a small berry is quite rare to find if it’s off season. The fruit can be easily crushed using your fingers and it’d leave a purple (hence the fruit name being ‘Dan’ ; the color purple in Sinhala) stain in your hand. You’re good to go with a little bit of salt added and your tongue color will change to purple if you have had enough Dan. Just make sure you won’t bite the seed since it’ll spoil the real dan taste with its bitterness. The taste doesn’t really have much a of a sourness (finally!) but it depends on how well ripened the fruits are.
07. Wood Apple
This fruit can be eaten in it’s two distinct stages of ripening. One, which is my personal favorite is before it’s ripen. It’s green in color and you’d probably have to throw the fruit towards hard ground to break it. This is extremely sour and after a while you can feel like there’s a net stuck in your throat. But oh well, that’s the fun. Try it with Chili powder and salt (Yes, it works with every fruit)
The second stage is when it’s well ripened, as shown in the picture. You can either just crack the shell open and eat the meat with a spoon with a sprinkle of sugar or you can blend it and make a fruit shake. A scoop of ice cream and some added sugar will make it taste delicious. Definitely a must try.
08. Ceylon Olive
Similar to regular olives in shape, you can buy this fruits boiled and seasoned (as shown in the picture) directly or as the raw fruit. If you have the raw fruit and have no idea how to make it as the yummy looking picture above. Click this link: http://heladiwaheritagecircle.com/2015/04/03/veralu-and-ambarella-achcharu/
You could also try the fruit without boiling but by just chopping it to pieces and adding pepper and salt. Another of my favorite is to wait till the olives are well-ripened, separate the flesh from the seeds, add sugar, and grind together. This will give you a sweet and high sour taste. Either way, the Achcharu is definitely a hit and you got to try it.
This can be eaten as a fruit or can be eaten with rice as chutney and recipe is given in the link.(https://srilankancuisine.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/ambarella-chutney/)
To be eaten as a fruit, just take the raw fruit, cut in to small pieces (Peeling is your choice, The peel just taste slightly more sour so you can decide to keep it) and mix with pepper, salt and a little bit of sugar. The seed however has a very interesting shape and I’d let it surprise you.
Although these are the top 9 fruit I could think of, your fruit expedition shouldn’t end here. There’s so much more to be added to this list.
For an example, Bananas.
Yes I know what you’re thinking. “We have our own bananas” But guess what? we have almost 20 types of different bananas with their unique color, size and outer skin texture. If you’re in to big ones, you could have a big one. Small, medium? You name it and Sri Lanka has it. Regardless of the size, they all taste delightful. Still referring to the fruit? Yes I am. And it’s same with the mangoes. There’s a huge variety.
Anyway, I can’t promise you that all these 9 fruits will be available in the time you’re in Sri Lanka. Most of them really depends on the season but I’m pretty sure you can at least try 5 of them in one trip. If you have already tried them, I’d love to listen to your experiences in the comments. If you haven’t, It’s time to plan your upcoming holiday.
Next stop, Sri Lanka.