All hail the King!
A common sight in most Lankan gardens, The King Coconut or `thambili' as the locals like to call it, is endemic to Sri Lanka. The name `thambili' in Sinhalese, means the colour `orange'. This association to colour, makes it hard for the native Sri Lankan to keep `thambili' off their minds. Known for their sweet taste and yummy flesh, the king coconut is by far the most iconic of all Sri Lankan delicacies. The sweetest King coconut water is best enjoyed before the King coconut turns orange, as the pulp and flesh contain more sucrose and fructose before ripening.
The king coconut, with its cooling capabilities, is very well suited to the people of warm Sri Lanka. It is however, not used purely for its thirst quenching capabilities, as the fruit, tree and fiber can be used for medicinal and utility purposes. From `Pol katu hadhi' (made using Coconut husks) to `pol kambha' (Made using the fibers of the king coconut tree), the King coconut has a multitude of uses. When it comes to the medical aspect of `thambili', the water within the King coconut is highly nutritional and is rich in Vitamin C, electrolytes, Riboflavin, Magnesium, Manganese, Calcium and dietary fiber, all the while being very low in cholesterol. Used in traditional Ayurvedic remedies as well as modern medicine, King coconut oil can be used for hair and scalp treatment, while the use of coconut cream, makes for an excellent sun-screen.
As for utility, the king coconut husk and fibers provide excellent materials, to craft and bind everyday household goods. The husk can be turned into spoons or `pol katu hadhi' and containers that are quite durable. The fibers can be used to make rope that is also quite tough. King Coconut fiber ropes are a common sight in Sri Lanka, and chances are you've seen and/or felt the coarse brown rope. Among the plethora of uses, the husk can be used as a pot to boil water in, or to cook in, if you're planning on surviving in the wilds of Ceylon. The king coconut truly earns the title of the Swiss army fruit.
Don't worry about king coconut being strictly PG13 however, as Toddy (King coconut wine) is a favourite among liquor and wine enthusiasts, due to its unique sweet and spicy taste. Toddy or `rha' as the locals like to call it, is very simple to produce, as all it requires to prepare, is some coconut water, yeast, sugar and spice (Cloves and cardamom). The relatively simple process of brewing Coconut toddy makes it quite abundant in the more rural parts of Sri Lanka, and seeing local villagers merry making as they sip on their toddy next to toddy kiosks, is a common and quite joyful sight.
Overall, the King of coconuts is not a coconut to be reckoned with, and anyone planning on spending their vacation in Sri Lanka, would regret missing the chance to munch and slurp on this locally grown fruit of life.
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