No substitute, Sri Lankan cooking tools

/ By Nimnaka / Food Guide
traditional sri lankan kitchen equipment, Sri Lankan Cooking tools

Although traditional kitchens generally do not exist in the modern world, a fully equipped Sri Lankan kitchen still includes traditional tools. These cannot be substituted because they enhance the taste of the food – which is the most important thing. If you want the same mouthwatering tastes and aromas that your grandmother used to get, there can be no alternatives to traditional tools and methods. Food processors and modern kitchen utensils just don’t give the same effect!

1. Clay pots

These are also known as ‘walang’ and is used to cook and serve curries. It is believed that clay enhances the flavor and aroma of the food, so the best curries come from clay pots. Modern materials such as metal do not give the same result. Additionally, research shows that clay has a high food-preserving ability as it protects food from bacteria. Clay pots can be placed directly on a flame when cooking and are often taken straight to the table for serving

2. Coconut scraper

Coconut is one of the most frequently used ingredients in Sri Lankan cooking, so the coconut scraper – or ‘Hiramanaya’ – is an essential kitchen utensil, usually clamped onto the side of a work surface. It is used to work tough coconut flesh into flakes. Using coconut milk powder as an alternative to the fresh coconut milk that the Hiramanaya produces spoils the taste and aroma of the curry, which Sri Lankans do not like.

3. Handmade spoons

Traditionally used in Sri Lankan cooking, these are made by hand from a coconut shell and come in many different sizes. A variety of modern spoons are available at markets, but they can’t beat the coconut shell spoon’s heat-absorbing ability, depth, and simplicity of use.

4. mortar & pastel

This two-part tool consists of a stone pot into which ingredients are placed and a long round wooden pole, used to pound and crush. Known as the ‘wan gediya and mol gaha’, this utensil is a must-have for authentic Sri Lankan cooking. While modern appliances cut ingredients into tiny pieces, the pestle and mortar allow the user to mash the ingredients and break down more cell walls as a result (but without damaging delicate ingredients such as herbs). This releases more flavor and makes a more intense curry paste, plus allows the user to control the texture of the ingredients – modern food processors only work with pre-defined settings.

5. Grinding stone

One of the oldest tools used in Sri Lankan cooking, the ‘miris gala’ is a two-stone grinder used to crush ingredients. It consists of one large, flat stone (used as the base) and another cylindrical stone (used like a rolling pin). It is mainly used for making mouthwatering sambol, which in turn is used for making curries, meat, ambul thiyal and many other dishes. Even though you can use a modern blender as an alternative, it won’t give you a fine paste and the same taste.

6. String hopper press

Also known as an ’indiyappam wangediya’, a string hopper press is used to make rice noodles called string hoppers. Flour dough is pressed through the metal tube, which creates fine strings. It is the only way to make string hoppers. 

7. Pittu bamboo

This is the traditional method used to make pittu – the mixture is placed inside the bamboo and then steamed. Even though similar aluminum tools are found in the market, bamboo enables the food to be cooked using steam, which keeps the natural flavor.

About The Author


Nim is a licensed Gourmet excursion guide, Flavor connoisseur, and countrywide tour guide. With a collective experience of 13 years, Nim is a graduate and field researcher deeply passionate about food and culture. Before becoming a Rustic Flavor connoisseur, Nim worked for prominent travel companies for 10 years, organizing tours across the country and abroad.

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nice article ! Very helpful!. It has a lot of new information for me. I would love to use this “Pittu bamboo” and cook something using it. Certainly during my next Sri Lankan visit I will try these traditional tools.

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Very interesting, a great introduction to Sri Lankan traditional kitchen. Keep it up!

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Nice collection here. I wan to add more one name- #Clay Cooking Pots

Rice and curries are our staple meal, and numerous more established Sri Lankans guarantee that a standout amongst other approaches to make a curry is to utilize conventional clay pots or mati walang. These pots are formed from red or dark clay on a potter’s haggle either sun dried for a couple of days or let go in an oven to make them hard and brittle.Traditionally, rice, too, was cooked in a pot on a fire or stove. Known as a shower muttiya, this is a round pot with a restricted opening.

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