Odiyal, also known as Kotta Kilangu, or Panam Kilangu, is the island’s much loved and popular delicacy. This fibrous and nutritious tuber grown in the North, East, and South of the tropical island can be enjoyed in various forms.
Words Swetha Ratnajothy.
Odiyal from palmyra palm tubers (Palmyrah sprouts) has a characteristic taste, loved by most Sri Lankans. There is an age-old custom to plant palmyrah seeds to germinate in the northern peninsula. An abundance of these seeds is hidden in clusters in molds of sand. Once fully grown, they are extracted. Then piles of the golden-hued Odiyal are loaded to baskets. It is cleaned and laid out to dry under the sweltering sun in the courtyards of homes and gardens and in open areas. The odiyal cultivation is also practiced in the eastern and southern provinces, reaping a bountiful harvest of golden tubers’. Odiyal can be enjoyed as a juicy, tender snack by boiling it in salt and turmeric water.
The dried Odiyal in golden yellow shades makes it a crunchy and lovable snack. Makeshift roadside stalls might frequently prompt passersby to stop by and get these popular snacks to be shared and enjoyed with family. Adding to that is a range of delightful snacks, from bundles of Odiyal, neatly tied to heaps of Odiyal chips (Palmyrah chips), ready to be sold in the North.
Odiyal is rich in carbohydrates, fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron, and protein. Nutrition and taste are part and parcel of the lives in the North. The natives have found various exciting ways to prepare and indulge in this haven of goodness.
The Odiyal flour is commonly used by native Tamils to prepare the signature seafood soup – Jaffna kool. The seafood soup is a tradition of Jaffna, and it is very healthy, fulfilling, and wholesome. It is prepared using seafood ingredients such as crab, fish, cuttlefish, crayfish, and prawns to create a broth. Next is adding long beans, jak seeds, manioc, salt, turmeric, chilies with a hint of tamarind. Odiyal flour is added and left to simmer to bring a thick consistency. It is served in dry coconut shell cups, reflecting authenticity. The flour is also used to prepare Odiyal pittu and palm posha. A savory style of enjoying Kotta Kilangu is adding boiled yam, scraped coconut, green chili, pepper, salt, red onion, and garlic. Once pound together, it can be rolled into circular balls and enjoyed as a raw and savory delicacy.
The island offers countless experiences to immerse in, from a bucket list of food to culture, religion, adventures, excursions, wildlife, art, and many more. It is a treasure trove of many delights and delicacies to indulge in, and adding to that list is Odiyal with its unique flavors.
Odiyal has a characteristic taste, loved by most Sri Lankans.