April 2018

Keep Your Cool!
April 2018

Beli Mal
BT Images

As April dawns the heat is on. The island provides a bounty of many natural beverages and superfoods that will help hydrate and cool the body.

Words: Keshini de Silva
Photography: Vishwathan Tharmakulasingham

April, in Sri Lanka, is a month where the majesty of the sun is felt the greatest. Even the cold central hills feel a higher temperature. As an ancient agrarian society, the sun is akin to a deity in the island. This month, as part of a centuries long custom, every movement of the ruler of the skies will be celebrated. As the sun travels from Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries), Sinhalese and Tamils welcome the traditional New Year with auspicious times and ancient customs. The weather throughout the island promises to be bright, ideal for excursions and adventures. And though the sun reigns fierce, the island gifts its inhabitants a bounty of wholesome fruits, vegetables and herbs to beat the humidity, keep cool.

Beli Mal

The ultimate thirst quencher! If you have been exploring the historic sites in the dry zone of the country, be sure to stop by the roadside stalls inviting you to try this herbal beverage calling out "Beli Mal Bomu". The bael fruit has many herbal properties, and is believed to be indigenous to our island. Hence, Sri Lankans have had a penchant for it for eons. The sun-dried flowers are boiled in water to make this drink. The longer it boils, the sweeter it tastes they say. While villagers have easy access to these trees in their gardens, the dried flowers can also be purchased from ayurveda shops. The beli mal drink is generally consumed hot with a piece of jaggery, and with each sip, you are sure to feel your thirst disappear and the body invigorated.

Sauv Kenda

This porridge of white pearls is a godsend in the humid weather. Sauv or sago is the starch extracted from the true sago palm. Low in fat, sago is renowned for its health benefits in cooling the body across South Asia. In Sri Lanka, it is popularly consumed as a porridge or even as a pudding, and both are quite easy to prepare. For the porridge, sago pearls are first washed and soaked in water. It is then boiled in water and coconut milk. Kitul jaggery is the most favoured sweetener, however brown sugar works well too. Depending on the density, the porridge can be prepared to be drunk out of a glass or eaten from a bowl. Whether you like it hot or cold, Sauv Kenda will keep you cool this month.

Mung Ata

It is a meal that goes back thousands of years. Mung beans (green gram) is a legume, which is known for many ayurvedic properties especially, in terms of cooling and cleansing the body. In Sri Lanka, from a young age, children are given boiled mung beans to eat for breakfast. The soft boiled green bean is lightly salted and best consumed with grated coconut. The coconut adds a touch of sweetness to this dish. Before you start your exploration in the tropics, boost your energy levels with a bowlful of boiled mung beans for breakfast. It's lip-smacking good!

Pokuru Vada Mal

It is an ultra-hydrating, energising herbal drink. Pokuru Vada Mala is a species descendent from Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and is of the same family as the shoe-flower. The ravishing red petals of the Pokuru Vada Mala are washed and then boiled in water. Once the liquid attains a deep pinkish-hue, it is ready to work its magic. For several generations, Sri Lankan mothers have been making this hydrating drink for infants and children to help cool their bodies. Indeed, in the principle of Sri Lankan ayurveda it is believed that Pokuru Vada Mala helps balance the dosha in the body. The herbal beverage can be consumed like a hot tea or chilled. For those who require a little assistance to handle the robust earthen flavour, a dash of honey or a spoonful of sugar should do the trick.

Nelli drink

This tiny green Indian gooseberry is packed with herbal powers and vitamin C. An important ingredient in ayurveda, it is a great hydrator for the body. Nelli is even believed to help protect from harmful UV rays. You can either eat the fruit, or juice it. As the juice has a potent flavour, it is diluted with water and sweetened with honey or sugar. Nelli is also delicious as a chutney. In Jaffna, nelli cordial, which is greener in colour, is popular and can be purchased from nearly any shop in town. Nelli is a fruit that cools, an ideal beverage for a healthy start to a morning in the tropics.


The orange king coconut is synonymous with Sri Lanka. In beachside stalls or makeshift shops along the road, you are bound to find bunches of king coconut beckoning you to quench your thirst. King coconut water is a marvel of nature. Packed with many vitamins and minerals, it is almost as good as saline; it is the ultimate energiser. King coconut water is also clean, completely natural, and due to its regular sweet flavour, there is no need to add anything. Just chop off the top and drink straight from the nut or maybe add a bit of lime juice to give an added punch. Refresh yourself with these many delicious and wholesome Sri Lankan concoctions and enjoy your stay in this tropical paradise.