“Beli Mal Bomu” sign boards can be commonly seen on the roadsides in suburban and rural areas withstanding rain or shine.
To energise before an adventurous voyage and de-stress after a lengthy journey, street vendors stand by the road with wooden tables laden with this beverage. There will be many beli mal stalls at the foot of Mihintale, where pilgrims visit on Poson Poya to commemorate the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka by Arahat Mahinda.
At the foot of the sacred Mihintale, where the sun shines brightly and flowers bloom, are rows of make-shift stalls for the faithful to rest. After a tiring journey, travellers can stop by for a cooling beverage to re-boost. Beli Mal is a healthy and refreshing beverage to beat the heat.
Beli is Sinhalese for Bael fruit and Mal is for flower. This fruit is said to be indigenous to Sri Lanka and it has plenty of nutrients. The Bael fruit is also special as it is one of the cleanest fruits to be found, given that they grow on tall trees away from artificial contaminations.
However, even before the ages of fertiliser and pesticides, ancient Sri Lankans were quite aware of the invigorating nature of this dainty bloom.
Sun-dried bael flowers are brewed in boiling water, and consumed as a hot beverage. It is known to cool the body from the inside.
The longer it’s boiled, the better it tastes and the brew is stronger in color. Very much like black tea, the beli mal concoction tastes pleasanter when consumed with jaggery. Since the beverage is just slightly bitter in taste, the jaggery acts as a sweetener.
Travelers can take a quick break at the roadside stalls to rejuvenate before getting back on their journey. However, one can also get to watch the process of making this famed beverage. The sun-dried bael flowers are boiled in a large pot and the color brew is strained and served.
While sipping a glass of this divine potion, it makes us wonder if those ancient intellects, the sculptors, the mechanics and masterminds took
pleasure in sipping a glass of beli mal ever so often.
This divine potion is a popular home remedy and a glass of this herbal goodness will ensure a healthy life!
JUNE 2021 | EXPLORE SRI LANKA