Having a bite to eat while sipping on a cup of tea is a common sight. In different parts of the world, people opt for different types of nibbles to accompany their tea.
Scones and cakes are must haves when its English teatime, just like a sandwich or doughnut is a part of the coffee consuming ritual across America. When it comes to Sri Lanka however – where the finest teas are produced and exported around the world – tea time snacks are an entirely different affair.
While our cuisine is celebrated by international chefs from Marco Pierre White to Top Chef winner Michael Vottagio, the one thing others who haven’t been here may not be know about us is our unusual choice of teatime accompaniments. In an effort to celebrate our culinary uniqueness in a different way, here is a list of well-loved snacks Sri Lankans must have when teatime rolls around:
Everyone’s mouth waters when Amma decides to bring out a hot-hot batch of fish cutlets or patties when its 4 o’clock teatime at home. Savory and utterly spicy, containing tin fish, onions potatoes and more, these just-off-the-frying pan munchies are the perfect accompaniment to a sweet, hot, afternoon tea.
Stopping by at a roadside kade for a cup of tea means you’re inevitably served a plate of assorted short eats by the waiter even if you don’t ask for it. This platter can contain a range of spicy items that from traditional ulundu vada is to super-spicy fish patties. If a group of you are stopping by for a tea, this assortment means there’s something for everyone in the platter.
Pol-pani pancakes are a post-Colonial Sri Lankan favorite. This much loved snack is made with a Lankan kithul treacle and grated coconut mix which is then wrapped around classic French crepes that have saffron added to the batter. This easy to make local treat is a one-of-a-kind sweet accompaniment to a hot cup of Ceylon tea.
The legendary Lankan maalu paan or fish bun comes in a distinct triangular shape and can be found anywhere from small kades to big eateries just about anywhere in Sri Lanka. The perfect accompaniment for people who love a cup of plain tea, maalu paans are best eaten hot-hot, moments after its popped out of the oven.
Dipping sweet biscuits into a hot cup of tea isn’t an entirely new idea, but when it comes to Sri Lankans there’s no end to the variety of biscuits that get dunked into our tea cups. From chocolate biscuits to Marie biscuits and from cream crackers to cheese bits, just about any biscuit lying around the kitchen gets picked up when its tea time, dipped into sweet, hot liquid and popped into our mouths before we take a sip.
These are some unusual but well known Lankan tea time accompaniments. Do you have a different snack that you have with your cup of tea? We’d love to hear your mouth-watering ideas!