The month of May brings with it the onset of the best of the island’s tropical seasonal fruit which are widely available (with the exception of perhaps the north and some of the east coast) throughout the island. It’s no surprise that our guests at Living Heritage Koslanda from the west rave about how much juicier, sweet and pronounced in flavor our fruit is here in Sri Lanka, compared to the same fruit found back in the west; everything from the sharpness of our sticky sweet pineapples to creamy bananas in all their shapes, sizes and colour to the refreshing watermelons and coconut water. This bounty of tropical fruit can be simply plucked off a tree or simply cut open at a street-stall, all in a perfect state of ripeness. In the coming weeks and months, be sure to look out for OUR Personal favourites:
We were recently lucky enough to host writer, Carolyn Fry at Living Heritage Koslanda. As author of many books on climate and environmental issues, botanical history for Kew Gardens, and a contributing writer for BBC Wildlife Magazine, we were keen for her to explore our 80 Acres of natural forest, and to meet ecologist Dr Lokugam Hewage, who is helping us with our survey of the diverse flora and fauna of the forest.
Over to Carolyn:
It’s amazing how nature takes over when left to its own devices. Originally, the 80-acre site that Living Heritage Koslanda (LHK) now occupies would have been evergreen forest, of the kind that now only grows in Sri Lanka at Horton Plains. But in the 1880s, large swathes of natural vegetation in the area were razed and replaced with terraced tea plantations.
Other crops were also cultivated on the Living Heritage site over the years, including rubber, coffee and pepper. But when the estate was abandoned in the 1950s, nature began to reclaim it once more. Today, Living Heritage Koslanda’s forest’s intriguing mix of native Sri Lankan plants, long-forgotten crops and introduced species, together help tell the story of this unique resort’s heritage.
Many visitors to Sri Lanka at this time of year are curious to learn that on the island we celebrate New Year in April and not the 1st January. The advent of the New Year, is an astrological event, when the sun moves from the House of Pisces to the House of Aries, and whilst the date of the new Year falls on the 13th or 14th April, the actual time is dependent on the position of the sun.
At Living Heritage Koslanda we too follow the many rituals that are part of the dawning of the New Year for both the Sinhala (Buddhist) and Tamil (Hindu) faiths. The whole island however comes alive with the lead up to the New Year, and it’s a very important time of the year for family and friends to get together. Like many Buddhist and Hindu festivals, there are considered to be auspicious times to perform various rituals, and the New Year is ushered in by the lighting of the hearth, and the preparations of the new year dish (kiribath) and the boiling of a pot of milk, and the overflowing of the milk signals a year of joy and prosperity ahead. In Tamil homes the milk is used to make Pongal, a sweetened rice dish.
Thin, crispy and completely gluten free, the hopper is more of a staple than a luxury in Sri Lanka, and completely taken for granted at breakfast or dinner – perks of island life!
The humble hopper (known locally as ‘appa’) is an age old favorite and has been around since the time of Dutch colonizers but is today something of a celebrity food thanks to the vibrant Weligama innovations and Peter Kuruvita’s inspiring TV series. While a true Sri Lankan hopper is known to be among the more difficult traditional foods to make at home (due to a fermenting process of the batter) the hopper has managed to evolve into ready-made mixes available at local grocers locally for working folk, and even across Asian grocers overseas, which has seen it boom into a local fast food phenomenon.
Don’t ask how, but we keep hearing from friends and family around the world that our estate grown black peppercorns at Living Heritage, are somehow more ‘peppery’ than what they find in shops back home.
Sri Lanka is a home to a number of wild pepper varieties, and while native to southern India, Sri Lanka became a major supplier of this “black gold” as the Portuguese and then Dutch colonisers, sought to dominate the international spice route, before the eventual emergence of the British East India Company. Pepper has for over a sought after and immensely valuable commodity for trading on the Spice Route, which dates back before the days of Alexander the Great. Even to this day at the ‘King of Spices”. (more…)
As part of our commitment to sustainable tourism and giving the local community a stake in Living Heritage Koslanda’s success, we have always strived to ensure that the women of the local village are also included in this equation. We have worked hard to ensure that as part of our employment practices, that local women are an integral part of our future.
Here in Sri Lanka it’s still very unusual to find village women working in hospitality, we are proud that 6 of our 16 staff are female – this in an industry and country which is typically and overwhelmingly a male dominated domain. So we’d like to introduce you to the wonderful women who make our guests so welcome, and we want to celebrate their work, dedication and commitment to breaking down barriers (more…)