As a family, we love fruit – mixed into oatmeal in the morning, sliced and diced for snacking, topped with ice cream or in a tart for an indulgent dessert, arranged prettily in a bowl for general munching. We usually chop two big freezer bags full of it for airplane rides, too. Before we arrived in Sri Lanka, we considered ourselves fruit experts. Sri Lanka has taught us we have a lot left to learn!
We love the tropical fruit salads we’ve been having with breakfast – pineapple, papaya, mango, banana, and watermelon. These are all fruits we’ve enjoyed in the past, although they are particularly fresh and delicious here. But as we sped by a fruit stand in the tuk tuk the other day, I realized I didn’t recognize several of the items being sold. I set a goal to learn more and try as many Sri Lankan fruits as we could find. For the past two days that has been our (delicious!) mission.
Yesterday we went to the fruit market and we also asked the amazing cook in the house where we’re staying to help us source any and all fruit (he arrived this morning with a plateful of fruit, all picked from trees on his way from home!).
Here’s a list of what we’ve tried so far (* for first time to try):
*Ambarella – crispy, a little tart, and also somehow a bit nutty
*Annona Muricata (Soursop) – green and spikey on the outside with a white inside that tastes like banana/pear custard
Banana – there are so many different kinds here
Carambola (Starfruit) – we initially tried ones that weren’t yet ripe, but then tasted some from the neighbor’s garden that were outrageously delicious
*Guava – I think I’ve had this in juices before, but never eaten it whole
*Jackfruit – I still don’t quite understand the difference between jackfruit and breadfruit and we’ve seen both here in the trees. Jackfruit seems to be used almost as a vegetable and tastes a bit like roasted chestnuts when cooked.
*Jambu (Water Apple/Syzygium) – sort of like a cross between an apple and a radish or like a really light and watery apple with a rose flavor; the smaller ones are especially light, juicy, rosey, and delicious!
*King coconut (Thambili) – we cut it and drank the juice and it was amazingly refreshing; now I understand why there are so many thambili kiosks along the roads!
Lime – we picked them from the trees around the house and made them into a tart juice
Mango – again, so many different kinds it’s difficult to keep track
*Nanan – we haven’t quite managed to find the English name for this, but I want to because it’s delicious! It looks a bit like a small green shriveled brain on the outside and the inside flesh is a bit like a pear.
Papaya – between Fiji and now Sri Lanka, I think red papaya is my new obsession; I just can’t get enough!
Passion fruit – the ones we ate had yellow skin, which is different from the darker brown ones I’ve had in the past
*Veralu (Ceylon Olive) – not sure these were quite ready to eat as they were quite hard and bitter
*Wood apple – you cut it open and eat the dark sticky pulp or make it into a juice
We’re still looking out for cashew apple, mangostin, rambutan, and sapodilla. And also for atemoya and sweetsop (which are closely related to the annona muricata/soursop we’ve already tried).