A Walk Through Jaffna Market.

In my book, the nicest way to immerse yourself in a new town is by strolling through the local market. Not a supermarket, but an actual one, with vendors selling fresh produce and locally-manufactured goods, and customers coming for the timeless pleasure of buying them. You can learn more about the flavour of a place from being a bystander here than a guide book would ever be able to tell you. 

It’s no surprise, then, that on a recent trip to Jaffna, I began my exploration in the quaint, colourful and chaotic local market that is smack dab in the centre of town. I found a whole treasure trove of products that you’d be hard pressed to find in a cookie-cutter supermarket. 

The latest food movement to take the world by storm is eating local — turns out, the Jaffna market is an education in doing just that. From palmyrah flour to peanut candy, most of everything you can buy is hyper-local, made in small quantities using locally available ingredients. 

In nearly every store, for instance, you will find sacks of mor milagai (literally, buttermilk chillies), pictured below. The sharp aroma of these dried chillies marinated in spiced buttermilk assails the nose when you walk in.

In a city that’s notorious for its affection for saccharine sweetness, it’s no surprise that you’ll find sweetmeats of many persuasions. We were intrigued by these laddoo-like mini-globes made of kadalaimaa or sweet, roasted gram flour, scented with cardamom. One chatty vendor informed us that these are especially nutritious.

Considered a symbol of the arid Northern Province, every part of the odiyal or palmyrah tree finds use in the region. The pulp is sweetened and dried to make panaddu, a uniquely Jaffna snack that is sticky, stretchy and bitter-sweet. You will also find odiyal flour (the base for Jaffna kool), odiyal chips and even colourful utensils and bags made of palmyrah fibre.

Although they are available all over town, the market is the best place to stock up on Jaffna’s luridly coloured and exuberantly sweet fruit cordials. One vendor who also turned out to be a persuasive salesman also sold us a bottle of Rosetto, a wine that is made by nuns of the Rosarian convent in Atchuvely, about 20 km from Jaffna. We went on a mission wild goose chase to find the source of the wine, but that’s a story we’ll save for an upcoming post.

We rounded up our walk with a pit stop (and unforeseen shopping spree) at one of the many dried fish shops that line the road that leads to the market. With large, dried fish hanging from hooks in the ceiling and stacks of smaller fish heaped into cartons, it’s impossible to miss the sight — or stench — of this line of shops. Most of the dried fish is meant for export, we were informed by a vendor. Apart from paraw, sprats and other names we couldn’t quite catch, you can also buy beautifully orange dried prawns (pictured below). 

If you’re the sort of person who obsessively checks to-dos off a list when visiting a new city, this may not be the outing for you. But if, like me, you’d rather soak in its flavours slowly, it’s just the ticket. 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp

Highlights.

Latest.

KAMU.

Satisfy your Kottu cravings at KottuLabs

Located in Nawala down a little lane, Kottulabs is home to the widest and most

Highlights Kamu

A flavorful journey to the North East by Paadum Meen

An ecstatically beautiful place located down Frankfort place, Bambalapitiya has caught a significant eye for

Highlights Kamu

Hummus Festival 2022 – Graze Kitchen by Hilton

By Shamrina Carim The stunning atmosphere Walking into this masterpiece designed by an excellent interior

Kamu

A Luxury European Dining experience at 1864 Limited Edition

Ambience Intimate dining area for couples and friends Comfy lounge areas to sit and catch

Highlights Kamu

Pizza Hut – My Box Birizza Fever- review

By Sumaiya Jaleel Hurrah! Welcome back to your scrumptious feast. Pizza Hut has brought back

Highlights Kamu

The Hottest Food Fest of the Year: Eat Street Colombo

By Janani Vithanage After a 2 year (Covid induced break), Sri Lanka’s biggest, best food

Highlights Kamu

Trending.

Tom Cruise Returns As The Iconic Fighter Pilot In Top Gun: Maverick

Scope Cinemas Premieres Top Gun: Maverick Starring Tom Cruise Colombo, Sri Lanka - 26 May

Trending

Things you Should Know About Monkeypox

By Janani Vithanage As Sri Lanka navigates what seems like the worst financial crisis she’s

Highlights Trending

 Unique Burger Promotion at Hilton Colombo

Hilton Colombo is presenting five unique burgers at Café Kai, LAB and SunsetBlu from 28th

Trending

Ramada by Wyndham Colomb Wins 2022 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Award 

Ramada by Wyndham Colombo is recognized with the 2022 Tripadvisor Travelers' Choice Award for the

Trending

‘Encounters’: The Second Exhibition by the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Sri Lanka

-  A walk through history that gives you a feel of déjà vu, especially when

Trending

Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo’s ColomBar moves to newly refurbished location

04 May2022, Colombo: Colombo’s iconic and stylish destination bar, ColomBar, has been re-located to its

Trending

Yamu Guide.

7 Restaurants to dine in June 2022

Here is a mix of aesthetically pleasing restaurants that are known for their Instagrammable background

Highlights Yamu Guide

The Embazzy – a relaxing luncheon spot

By Hiruni Herath Service and Ambience Stepping into The Embazzy, it’s clear that the restaurant

Highlights Yamu Guide

What to expect at a Yala National Park Safari

Covering an extensive area of Southern and Uva Provinces, Yala is the second largest national

Yamu Guide

Everything you need at Online Kade

Located in the heart of Rajagiriya Online Kade also has a branch in Colombo 04

Yamu Guide

5 Co-working spaces in Colombo

By Tashia Ranasinghe Here are some more interesting places for all the digital nomads out

Highlights Yamu Guide

7 Buffets to Indulge In this Easter 2022

By Janani Vithanage As the youth of our nation make their voices heard, the birth

Yamu Guide