The best of Sri Lanka’s fruits!

When you first say Sri Lanka, you think of tropical fruits of course (this might be for foodies only…)!

Here’s a list of the fruits we tried during our last vacation there in December, from my favorite ones to the one fruit that I hated (yes, such thing exists).

Start with the coconut water!

Start with the coconut water! 

King coconut picture

… And ready to enjoy!

Thambili – King Coconut

On our first boat ride, in Beruwala, we tried the king coconut. Oh my God, that’s a delicious fruit! The vendor will make some holes in it first and you drink the coconut water with a straw, then the vendor will cut it for you and make you a spoon out of the peel so you can eat the flesh. It is very different from the coconut we know and oh-how-yummier!

Did I mention that you can add some rum to it? 😀

cut King coconuts picture

Oh… And the mess we left behind us

Pineapple

Pineapples were always available. We were having them for breakfast and for dinner. Beruwala’s pineapples were not that special, but the ones we had in everywhere else were amazing. The best ones we had were the ones we bought from the local market in Kandy. For 1$, you get a baby pineapple cut and ready to eat.

Red pineapple in a Spice garden

Red pineapple in a Spice garden

We also discovered the red pineapples (we didn’t have the chance to try them though). Apparently, these are the pineapples that help people lose weight, and not the regular ones. Bad news for you?!

Avocado

My sister and I ordered an avocado salad in a restaurant. That was the best avocado I ever had! What a buttery feeling, what an amazing flavor! And then you ask yourself what the hell are those avocadoes they sell in here? 😦

Avocado salad picture

The best of the best

Mango

Even though it was not mango’s season, we found some delicious mangoes on a street cart. Yeah, we had some “Are you out of your mind” looks from people with us on the tour, but the mangoes were worth anything!

We were able to find some mangoes in the market as well, but they were not as good as the first ones we tried. And guess what? For 1 dollar, you can have 4 small mangoes. Hmmm!

Banana

A boring fruit, you say? Well, we’ve tried more than 5 new kinds including red bananas and small bananas, and they’re really good. All of them. And when fried, they’re delicious!

Jackfruit

A new fruit that I never knew existed. Raw and ripe, we were told that it tastes like a cross between mango and pineapple: I was not very impressed.

Jackfruit on a tree picture

Jackfruit on a tree

But the surprising fact is that young jackfruit is used as a vegetable for cooking, and I’ve read that it tastes like pulled pork. Huh?!

... and an open jackfruit

… and an open jackfruit (source: friendfortheride.wordpress.com)

Papaya

I am not a big fan of papaya, but everyone agreed that papayas were good. They were also available in almost every buffet we went to. So if you’re a fan, and you’re heading there, they should be on your list!

A small Banana, Nellis and pineapple (with some other delicacies as well)

A small Banana, Nellis and pineapple (with some other delicacies as well)

Other fruits

In addition, there were guavas, passion fruits, rambutans, watermelons, in addition to a small bitter fruit, “nelli”, that I hated and could not eat. Seriously, how can anyone eat something that sour and bitter? Erghhh

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Chocolate Banana Cake Recipe

Chocolate Banana Cake Picture

Yummy

I had ripe bananas at home and I wanted to use them for preparing a cake, so I don’t end up throwing them. I’ve been throwing a lot of food lately, and I am feeling horrible about it.

I remembered a chocolate banana cake that a friend – Phatima from Phatima’s box did once for Atyab Tabkha. I searched for the recipe and it was very easy, so I decided that the cake was going to be the first thing that I’ll do the next morning.

You can check the original recipe here. I only reduced the sugar and used a bundt pan. It took more than the initial 35 minutes in the oven – about 45 minutes.

The result was awesome, even though it took some time to flip out of the pan! (Hell, I was scared!)

The cake is extremely moist and everyone loved it. It’s perfect to serve with coffee. I will be doing it again for sure!

Now let’s check the recipe.

 

Chocolate Banana Cake Recipe

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Spray a bundt cake pan with butter (I am using Lurpak Mist and I think it’s very practical).
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a big bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs with the bananas, milk, vegetable oil, water and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients to the eggs mixture and mix until homogeneous.
  3. Pour into the pan and bake for around 45 minutes, until done (You may start testing for doneness after 35 minutes). Remove from oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before flipping it on a serving plate.

Picking My Fruits And Vegetables

When you grow up in a village, it’s very hard for you to get used to the tasteless fruits and vegetables that you find in the supermarkets in Beirut.

My father and his family have worked in the agriculture field for years, and dad is still very picky when it comes to choosing the fruits & vegetables that he buys.

Souvenirs Souvenirs

My grandparents, both from my mother and father’s side – used to grow a lot of fruits & veggies in their own gardens, so, during all our childhood, we always had the best fresh products!

In addition, people in my region are known for their generosity, so you would rarely leave someone’s house without tons of fresh gifts, just picked form the garden! Today, you can still see that, but much less unfortunately, because people stopped working in agriculture for more profitable jobs.

Vegetables basket picture

Fresh & Colorful

For example, I rarely visit my mother’s uncle without leaving with a whole pack of 30 fresh eggs (that’s his main business), cherries when it’s the season, delicious jams prepared by his wife, keshek, kaak for Easter…

I remember my (maternal) grandma had a huge green plums tree, and we grew up climbing that tree to get the best fruits that were always above our reach as children.

She always grew artichokes, and I still remember how delicious they were! All the relatives coming from Beirut would ask her to prepare some when they used to visit her.

She also had strawberries – strawberries that are organically grown have a complete different taste than the commercial ones. We used to help her pick mint, eggplants, marrows, lettuces, parsley, spring onions… from the garden and despite she had a big one, she also used any empty milk container to plant flowers.

She had a grapes’ arbor outside the house so we always had the best grapes and vine leaves. She was an exceptional woman.

From my paternal grandparents’ side, where memories are way less, I only recall the persimmon tree from which I had the best “kakis” ever (that’s how we call them in my village), and two different cherry trees that were stolen every year before we could enjoy them.

Today, I still ask my father to get me vegetables with him from the village. He shops from the most expensive market there, but everything there is exceptional. Friends sometimes make fun of me when I tell them that even bananas, avocados, oranges and lemons are better there, since they are coastal fruits and should be better therefore in Beirut. But they truly are. Anything I buy from here is spoilt or rotten after 3 to 4 days (except for cabbage and endives, to be fair), while a bunch of mint from the village could last for more than a week!

When buying oranges form here, they become all rotten after 3 days! This is not acceptable! Oranges that I buy from the village last up to 2 weeks! And this applies to everything else, sadly.

Pick of the week

I was in the village yesterday, so I went shopping myself: eggplants, carrots, potatoes, onions, lemons, watercress, rocket leaves, beetroots…

One out of the many things that any foodie can enjoy while shopping in the village is certainly the wide choice of non- commercial herbs that you can occasionally find, depending on the season, and your luck of course.

Yesterday, I found two treasures: green garlic – it’s the season for that, and a new herb that I’ve never heard of, called “fedriyye”. I tried to find it online to be able to translate it, but it’s not mentioned anywhere.

I’ve tried green garlic previously with scrambled eggs and it’s really exceptional. As for the “fedriyye”, I was told it is used in frittatas, so I got some and I’ll be trying it soon! Stay tuned!

Upside-Down Pineapple Cake Recipe

Upside-down pineapple cake picture

This is one guaranteed tasty cake

Last week I was visiting a friend who’s recovering from a tough surgery, and I wanted to surprise her with a cake. Since I was in a hurry, I needed an easy and quick recipe. So, I opted for a simple upside-down pineapple cake recipe especially that I already had a can of pineapple and some glacé cherries that have been sitting in my kitchen closet for a while.

I quickly looked for a recipe online, and found Nigella’s recipe. I did some minor changes, and the result was outstanding! All you have to do is to decorate your pan, mix all the ingredients in a food processor, and, hop, your cake is ready for the oven!

Oh, and did I mention that you could replace the pineapples with any other kinds of fruits?

Upside-Down Pineapple Cake Recipe

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • butter for greasing (I used Lurpak mist)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 7 slices canned pineapple in juice (plus 3 tablespoons of the juice)
  • 19 candied cherries
  • 100 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 100 g softened butter
  • 100 g sugar
  • 2 large eggs

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Spray a cake pan (24cm) with butter.
  2. Sprinkle the 3tablespoons of brown sugar on top of the buttered base, and then put one pineapple slice in the center of the cake pan and arrange the remaining slices around it in order to form a circular pattern.
  3. Fill each pineapple ring with a cherry, and then dot one in each of the spaces in between.
  4. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, butter, sugarand eggs into a food processor and mix until the batter is smooth. Then pour in the 3 tablespoons of pineapple juice to thin it a little.
  5. Pour this mixture carefully over the pineapple rings; it will only just cover it, so spread it out gently.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, then ease a spatula around the edge of the tin, place a plate on top and, with one deft, turn it upside-down.