Visiting the south coast where my parents were born right before the Sri Lankan New Year for me, is always an adventure.

Passing the golden beaches lined with azure water and coconut trees, the wind that kisses you is perfumed by the salty blue of the ocean. We make this 8 hour journey with a boot full of gifts and trinkets for my Grandmother who lived in the ancient house where my mother and her mother before her was born. Every year she greets us beaming, wiping her hands on her apron as she smothers us in her warm, scented embrace. She always smells of smoke and spices –a smell that transports me still.

I still remember the first time I tasted this. I scraped the coconut and ground the cinnamon, the cardamom and the nutmeg in my grandmother’s giant stone mortar and pestle and sprinted off to have a dip in the sea just as the oil wok was bubbling welcome to these little balls of joy. When we arrived all salty and wet from the sea, these steaming balls of treacle and spice were served hot hot from her wood fired stove.

At first our teeth encountered a brittle and salty exterior which readily gave way to a fragrant interior of moist coconutty goodness. The caramelized coconut steeped in rich, dark treacle was laced with aromatic spices. The sensual warmth of the cinnamon, the piquant nutmeg and the poignant cardamom cut through the sweetness of the caramelized coconut while a hint of salt augmented the experience to another level. Each mouthful was a delightful contrast of crunchy and juicy, each bite exploding with flavour and warmth, its delightful heat warming our sodden selves still dripping wet and salty from the sea.

As I make this dish every year at Sri Lankan New Year, I am taken back to that day we tasted this coconut cake with sandy feet, salty water dripping off our hair, burning our tongues as we gobbled down one delicious globe after another. This is my Grandmother’s recipe – a great big hug from a woman who had always been larger than life.175aaaaaaa

Oh I just can’t stop eating these! So juicy, so caramely, it’s SO good that I am convinced that it’s not good for me. Oh but it is!


Some tips

  • When adding rice flour into the coconut mixture, you can choose your own consistency. Just make sure that the mixture is dense enough so that when you form balls, they are not too loose. If they are loose, the balls tend to fall apart in oil. Rule of thumb just remember, the lesser the rice flour in the mixture,more delicious it will be!
  • I forgot to add jaggery in the coconut mixture when making this. Add jaggery for a richer and deeper taste.
  • When frying the battered balls, make sure that you drop them into the oil one at a time. They tend to stick together in oil, so make sure they are fried with space apart so that they do not touch each other.

Oh the yumminess! I simply CANNOT get over how good these are! And so easy to make too!