Celebrating Avurudu with home-cooked food | Sunday Observer

Celebrating Avurudu with home-cooked food

9 April, 2023


Combining the best of the ethnic cuisine, the Avurudu table is filled with sweet, soft and crispy goodies. From the traditional milk rice to delicacies like Unduwal, Naran Kavum and Aggala, an important aspect of the Avurudu season is about laying out a scrumptious feast to share with your family and loved ones. These festive foods are all about tradition and the memories associated with them.

Sweet meats and special dishes are an essential facet of the Avurudu season. While they have come to be identified with the annual festival, some of these food items are also prepared to mark special occasions. However, it is during the Avurudda that food mainly takes its pride of place.

Known for her popular Youtube videos about whipping up a range of scrumptious dishes culinary expert Anoma Wijetunga’s name has become synonymous with cooking today. The soft spoken lady with her infectious smile and motherly voice has taught many a youth to make gastronomic delights through the recipes she prepares in ‘Anoma’s Kitchen’. Her famous tag line ‘Cooking With Love’ reflects the success of her culinary techniques.

Anoma says that though items like kokis have originated from the Dutch, kevum can be termed as our own.

“Different types of food items are associated with different provinces. Athirasa is famous in the South while aluwa and bibbikan (a type of coconut cake) are associated with the hill country.”


Speaking about the sweetmeats available at the stores Amona said that one cannot be sure about the quality of the products though they may look and taste nice.

“For example you cannot be sure how many times the oil has been reused to fry products. This poses future health risks. The kokis too does not taste creamy. Food bought from shops is never on par with those made at home,” she stressed.

She said that out of all the Avurudu delicacies aasmi is the most difficult to make.

“You need to find the leaves of a special species of cinnamon called ‘Davul Kurundu’ to make it in the correct manner. Once you add this to the mixture, the mixture flows steadily into the hot oil. You also need to have the practice to make kevum properly especially since you need to use both your hands in the process,” she said.

One of the frequent mistakes which occur in making Avurudu sweetmeats is getting the proportions wrong. Even the pani pol has to be taken off the heat at the correct time.

“All this knowledge comes with practice. At times you cannot show the exact quantity you need to use because it also depends on the quality of your product,” she added.

For Anoma the Sinhala and Tamil New Year has always been associated with food. She says that the Sinhala pickle was one of the most prominent food items during the season in her home when she was a child.

“Sinhala pickle is different from Malay pickle. It is not sweet and it has a lot of raw papaya cut into thin strips. Malay pickle includes dates and sugar,” she added.

Anoma’s love for culinary arts has developed due to her mother engaging them in cooking during their school holidays.

Make in small quantities

One of the techniques Anoma uses to keep the consumption of sweet and oily food consumption in check is to make the food in small quantities.

“If I make a pol cake I cut it into small slices. Sweetmeats are in abundance during Avurudu time and people have developed the habit of grabbing something from the table and popping it into their mouth as they pass by. This way they will consume smaller portions,” she said with a smile.

Queried on what one can serve visitors other than the traditional sweetmeats Anoma says that it is best to make a batch of cutlets or pattis and store them in the freezer a few days before the Avurudda.

“Since Avurudu sweetmeats like kevum and kokis are in abundance during this period. You can be sure that these homemade savouries will not be wasted. You can also make a quick sandwich by smashing some Ambul Thiyal and adding some onion and green chili pieces into the mixture. You can even make some spicy kokis to add a difference to the traditional recipe,” Anoma opined adding that pan cakes filled with pani pol too can be made in a jiffy.

Avurudu has lost most of its significance because it has become commercialised today. People tend to buy clothes regularly. She says that she as a child she used to wait till the Avurudda drew near to get new clothes.

Anoma laments that today many take the easy way out by buying Avurudu sweetmeats from the supermarkets.

“We get the real essence of the Avurudda when we make them at home. Nothing can beat the delicious aroma of the kevum and kokis sizzling on the stove and the fun one gets from cooking them together. Small children would definitely enjoy this sight and they would relate to the Avurudda more if they get to experience making kevum, kokis or other Avurudu food items. That is why I would advice housewives to cook at least one type of Avurudu sweetmeat at home. The Avurudda comes only once a year. Food binds people together. If someone knows that you cook delicious food they like to visit and dine in. So make an effort to celebrate it with the family with some home cooked food,” she said.

- Extracted from ‘Cooking with love for this Awurudu’ first published in the Daily News on April 11,2018.




» 150g red onions
» 40g green chillies
» 1 carrot, thinly cut into strips
» 1 green papaya
» 15g garlic
» 7g ginger
» 1 tsp pepper corns
» 1/2” cinnamon
» 1 tsp mustard
» 1 tsp turmeric
» 1 cup vinegar
» Salt to taste

Grind ginger, garlic, mustard, cinnamon and pepper corns in vinegar.
Cut the green papaya into thin strips. Put these into a clay pot and cook until they become dry.
Then add a little vinegar into a clay pot and put the red onions in. Blanch the onions in Vinegar and then blanch the green chillies. Put them aside.
Add the ground paste and remaining vinegar and salt to the pot, bringing it to a boil.
Afterwards, turn off the heat.
Add the red onions, green chillies, carrot and papaya. Mix well.


It’s time to bring a new twist to the classic kokis with a splash of colour.

» 3 cups rice flour
» Coconut milk
» Salt
» Food colouring of your choice
» Oil for frying

Make the batter using rice flour, coconut milk and salt.
Separate the batter into three shallow dishes. Add food colouring of your choice. Mix well.Fry the kokis according to the usual method.



This spicy version of kokis is appetising so that it makes everyone crave for more.

» Rice flour
» Coconut milk
» Salt
» Chilli powder
» Turmeric powder
» Curry leaves cut into thin strips
» Oil for Frying

Make the usual kokis batter. Then add the chilli powder, turmeric powder and curry leaves, mixing them well.Fry the kokis as usual in medium heat. If you fry the kokis in high heat, you will lose the colour of the kokis and also the colour of the curry leaves. So, kokis should be yellowish and the curry leaves should be green.