Originally Posted on lady-grouchalot on Thursday, August 8, 2013. Edited and reposted. I had jam paan today.
Nostalgic food. Brings a smile to my face everytime.
The last time I had jam paan, I must have been about 6 years old. Jam paan those days were these weirdly shaped coarse buns (to be quite honest, they looked like oddly shaped feet to me) filled with these chemical tasting red coloured jam (that awfully synthetic melon-strawberry jam) which sort of reminded me of cough syrup. I didn’t like it much those days but today, my colleagues and fellow foodies at work were talking of getting kimbula banis (croissants Sri Lankan style) that I suddenly got reminded of jam paan. So that’s the story of how I got to gobble down jam paan today.
So after about 20 years today, I had a jam paan. Well, half of it to be honest as I couldn’t finish one whole. I had expected the size of the jam paan to have gone down with our shrinking economy but apparently it hadn’t affected the size of the jam paan as much as I had thought it would. But it had definitely affected the amount of jam that went into the paan. The jam to paan ratio was just sad. There was an awful amount of paan but a tiny amount of jam inside.
However, the bread was much softer, much delectable. There was sugar sprinkled on top which made the experience all the more nicer. The taste of the jam had changed too over the years. It didn’t have the strong, chemicallish taste that it used to have before. And the jam paan somehow didn’t look like a gnarled foot anymore. It was scalloped but more neatly so. It was jam paan nevertheless.
Another favourite of mine only to be found in our paradise isle but once here, found in every nook and cranny, petti kade and seedy bakery is the famous tea banis. A soft, round, slightly sweet and airy bun with a plum or two inside that once bitten into, give you a loud burst of sourness that is immediately cocooned with the doughy light sweetness of the bun surrounding it. Perfect with a banana or as I like to have them, split in two, the two halves sandwiching a generous dash of butter and an equally generous sprinkle of sugar. Perfect for tea times and hence the name tea buns, locally known as banis. There are many kinds of banis as well; seeni banis (sugar buns) with a sprinkle of sugar on top and therefore a little sticky, jam banis with a small well filled with a melon jam and gal bani (stone like banis) a hard sugary bun. Out of this, the tea banis wins hands down.
All in all, with regards to culinary creativity, I’d give the Sri Lankans a 10/10. We may have learnt to make bread from the Dutch but regular bakery delicasies such as Kimbula Banis, jam paan and the like – essentially Sri Lankan.
I regret not having any good pictures of these goodies to post here. Will post some when I get myself a jam paan or a tea bun next time.