Sunday, July 14, 2024


Refreshing Drinks

Jaffna is a very hot and humid place and people living there always want to drink some refreshing drinks to quench their thirst. There are a few options;

Fresh water:

The water from the wells is very cooling, fresh and tasty. Invariably all the homes will have a well from which the occupants drew water for their use. Some wells of course do not have fresh drinking water but the water would be salty and not drinkable. This is used for washing and general purpose only. Those people from homes with salty water wells will have to move around and draw their drinking water from elsewhere.
Normally fresh drinking water would be drawn from the wells and kept in earthenware pots just for drinking. These pots cool the water inside. The mechanism with which the pot cools the water is the earthenware pots have tiny microscopic pores on their surfaces and the water inside seeps through to the outside and when this water on the surface evaporates for the heat outside, it cools the pot and thereby the water inside. Some people smoke the inside of the pot so that it gives a smoky flavour. This was not appreciated by everybody. When this water is drunk on a hot day it really quenches the thirst.

Buttermilk - Moor - மோர்

Many homes have cows for their milk supply and the excess milk is either sold off or converted to yoghurt and its products. Very often yoghurt can be bought in food shops and restaurants. Butter milk is made from yoghurt and this was another drink that was very popular in those days.

The milk is boiled and then cooled to room temperature. When ready, a small amount of old buttermilk or curd is added to this milk as a starter and the milk is allowed to ferment overnight or for about 12 hours. Once the milk turns into curd, this is poured into an earthenware pot and churned with added water until all the butter floats and this collected is collected and put away to make ghee. The remaining liquid which is buttermilk is fat free. This buttermilk can be drunk without any additions or eaten with rice and curry dishes as with sodhi. Or it can be drunk with added onions and chillies for additional taste.

Recipe for the buttermilk drink:

For 3 litres of buttermilk, add one small finely chopped onion and 2 finely chopped green chillies and salt to taste and mix. The onions and green chillies pieces will tend to float so mix with a big spoon and serve in a glass.
This would be kept in an earthenware pot and everyone in the homes drink it whenever they felt like it. They sometimes carry this to their work place to drink and also sold in restaurants and food outlets. This was a favourite drink with field workers as a mid morning drink.
Sometimes some people add a small piece of picked lime to this and drink.
One should try this drink to remind themselves of Yarlpanam.

Sarkarai Thanni - Jaggery Water - சர்கரைத் தண்ணி

Another drink that was very popular was Sarkarai Thanni - Jaggery water which is a solution of jaggery in water mixed with lime juice. If this is made with ice cool water it is very refreshing and quenches the thirst very well.
Mix about 50 grams of jaggery in 2 litres of water either chilled in a fridge or from an earthenware pot. Add to this the lime juice from one lime.
Strain the resulting liquid and serve. You can add more jaggery if it is not sweet enough.

Uurukaai Thanni - Lime pickle water - ஊறுகாய் தண்ணி

This is simply pickled lime solution in water.
In a pot drop finely chopped small onion and one finely chopped green chilli and one pickled whole lime. Mash these together well with the back of a large spoon and add 3 litres of water and mix well. Spoon out in a glass.

Sweet toddy- கருப்பனி

In the palmyrah toddy season palmyrah sweet toddy was a very usual drink to quench the thirst. Some people who had palmyrah trees in their gardens would hire a toddy tapper to have sweet toddy tapped from the trees in their homes. I can remember my grandfather had a palmyrah tree in his garden which was tapped for sweet toddy and we drank this practically every morning. This is sweet and very refreshing to drink. More of this is given in Palmyrah section.

Young Coconut drink - இளநீர்

Another delicious drink was young coconut. This can be drunk any time anywhere and it is clean, cool, fresh and readymade food. After drinking the water the soft kernel inside should be eaten and is sweet and filling.
The young coconut is shaven at the top to remove the outside fibrous cover and to expose the shell or until you reach the hard shell part. Then a slit is made on the hard shell and the drink inside is drunk straight from there. Nowadays people use a straw to suck out the juice. Once the coconut is emptied it is split into two and the kernel inside is scrapped with a spoon and is eaten. It is almost a refreshing meal. It is the best drink to replace all the nutrients and body fluids especially after a severe bout of diarrhoea.

Kanchi - கஞ்சி

We have discussed this item in the rice recipe section but will recall again.

When rice is cooked specially country red rice, it is cooked by draining method. After the rice has cooked, the excess water is drained off in a dish and this is Kanchi. This contains all the goodness of the rice and is not thrown away. This is drunk on its own or with added coconut milk or with other curries like manioc or tapioca curry or white aubergine curry. The rice is normally cooked after the other curries have been made and during the mid day. This kanchi is drunk during morning midday break or as a snack as it were.
Surprisingly our forefathers favourite food and drinks were kanchi, pazham saatham and Moor for their mid day meal.

Ice Coffee

Ice coffee became a favourite drink quite recently. In the good old days there were no refrigerators and cooling facilities were not available. This ice coffee was a recipe from the Burghers / Europeans who settled in then Ceylon. It became popular after the refrigerators became available, however this was not served all the times but for important visitors.


Well brewed black coffee 4 cups
Condensed milk ½ cups OR Milk ½ cup and full cream 2 tablespoons
Granulated white sugar to taste
Vanilla extract ½ teaspoon


Brew coffee from freshly boiled water and fresh coffee powder. The coffee should be strong but should not be bitter. Strain the coffee.
Take four cups of this coffee and add to this the condensed milk. The mixture should be milky and add more condensed milk if needed. You can add the milk and cream if you prefer instead of condensed milk.
Then add the White sugar little by little and dissolve well. The condensed milk, if it is sweetened will contain sugar too. So adjust the white sugar.

Now add the vanilla extract and stir.

Pour the whole coffee into glass jug and leave it in the refrigerator for at least it is cold enough or for six to eight hours.
Serve when cool.

Some people add cinnamon powder 1 teaspoon to the coffee powder when brewed and omit the vanilla extract at the end.

Still some people add one table spoon of coffee liqueur. This of course for adults only!