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Tn;a í¨ *s,aï n,kak weíneys jqk flfklao@
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újyd ùug ;reKshka ke;s rgla… fï rfÜ újyd ùug tkak leu;s ;reKshkag ta rfÜ mqrjeis Ndjh fukak n,kak
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:: From the time of Sinhala kings
Mar 12, 2011 04:07 pm
The impression of the visitor to Sri Lanka, when he has the first glimpse of the island when he is touching down is of the lush green vegetation, and the coastal areas fringed by coconut palms. The visitor soon finds out, that in addition to the coconut palm, Sri Lanka abounds in other trees and plants which provide food in some form or the other. I belong to the palm family. I've been brought up from the time of Sinhala kings and have become one of the most distinctive features of the Sri Lanka landscape.

Once you make a train journey to the South of Sri Lanka you will observe that the island's foliage is vast. This is mainly in the villages. It is here that I grew up with my siblings. Villagers are extremely kind hearted. They looked after me well. I gradually grew up in the wet zone and my kind grows in most parts of Sri Lanka.

The Sinhala name given to me is 'Kos' or herali in Sinhala , while I am known as pelaka in Tamil and in English I am known as jak. The botanical term is Artocarpus integrifolia (kos). My average height is 25 feet and fruit bearing is in about the third year and during the Yala season, which is from May to September. The formidable prickly green-yellow (composite) fruits hang from the trunk. Plucking of fruits is done by men who climb the trees. Fruits at lower heights are plucked using long poles. No meal is complete without at least one dish of jak in some form or the other.

The mature fruit is boiled as an alternative to rice. When prepared as a curry it becomes an tasty accompaniment for rice.

The ripe fruit is one of the tastiest of fruits and used as a dessert. It has been said that the Jak fruit attracts all living things.

The half ripe fruit is known as polos and is used as a tasty dish when cooked and served in palatial homes in Colombo 7 and in village huts. Jak is given to breast feeding mothers to increase milk production. I am now well loved by everyone. During the second World War, I was promoted by a Sri Lankan philanthropist and introduced a the 'Tree of Rice'. This person was popularly known as Kosmama (jak uncle). meanwhile wood from the tree which is known as jak wood is used as expensive timber to make doors and windows and even furniture.

Its raw leaves are used as cattle and goat fodder, while the dried leaves are taken for manure. Jak seeds are sun dried, either boiled or raw. No washing is done at any stage in processing. If washed it will increase the the moisture content resulting in a negative effect on sun drying. Tearing the seed lengthwise with the fingers is said to be better than cutting with a knife, because it minimizes shrivelling while drying.

Seeds of the mature or ripe fruit are used for processing. Tender jak is made into a delicious pickle. Ripe jak can be kept for a long time by keeping it airtight. It is canned and marketed for export, using this method. The heart wood yields a yellow dye which is used for dyeing the robes of bhikkhu monks as well as mats. Let me share an experience I had recently. We drove to Wakwella, five miles from Galle, a wooded suburb, with a fine river view.

The house stood upon the point of a lofty promontory, which in one direction looked over palmcovered hills and valleys with clusters of jak trees in between. This was visible for as far as the eye could see. It was a family gathering on a Sunday. All members enjoy a sumptuous meal with hot curries, fried dried fish, jak seeds, cooked to the taste of meat curry and boiled jak fruit served with scraped coconut and lunumiris.

This lunch ends with a dessert of ripe jak known as waraka, one of the tastiest fruits. Nancy's mother-in-law is a betel chewer after a heavy meal she enjoys a chew of betel.

Her mouth is stained blood red. Most villagers chew betel, which is an edible green leaf together with chunam and arecanut. Meanwhile, Galle is wellknown for exporting coconut oil, ebony, spices and arecanut. Now exporting jak will also be included and will turn out to be a commodity export.

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