Tangy Tastes Of Sri Lanka

September 2010| 1,022 views

Words: Thilini Kahandawaarachchi | Photographs: Mahesh Prasantha |  Prabhath Chathuranga |  Meneka Aravinda

Perhaps the most anticipated of all fruit seasons in Sri Lanka, Rambutan time is the vibrantly colourful and the enticingly exciting. Awaited by the young and the old alike, it is a period when the roadside stalls around the country display neatly arranged piles of bright red rambutan. A tropical fruit that is native to South East Asia, rambutan has a hairy peel. Breaking it open may seem quite a task, but the sweet, juicy flesh that tastes similar to lychee or even grape is a real reward for the effort. Indeed a true tropical gift, rambutan comes in many varieties; the most popular known as Malwana rambutan is commonly found around the Malwana area. It is a must try for any visitor to the country during the season, which is currently on.

Though not typically Sri Lankan, the notorious odour of durian precedes it and thanks to its attack on the olfactory senses, people either love it or loathe it. The durian season coincides with that of rambutan, but unlike rambutan it is comparatively large in size and has a thorny husk. It has a creamy white flesh, which tastes somewhat similar to custard. Quite similar to jackfruit in appearance, though smaller, it is said that even elephants do not go under durian trees for the fear of the fruits falling on them. But then it is no cause for wonder. Imagine a large, thorny durian falling from 40 metres above!

Though lesser known compared to rambutan or durian, and not so widely available, naminang or nangnang is another Sri Lankan fruit. In the backyard gardens of village houses there is always a naminang tree, which has fruits along its trunk. naminang has an awkward shape and an uneven greenish brown exterior, but when ripe it turns slightly yellow and has a sour sweet taste.

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