Its sweet aroma will overwhelm your nostrils. Its flavour is exotic, virtually indescribable. After you have tasted ‘Waraka’, there is no going back, you will keep wanting more!
Waraka is the ripened jak fruit, the world’s largest fruit. The fruit itself is closely knit with Sri Lankan cuisine. Before it’s ripe, the fruit is cooked and relished as either Polos – the meat substitute or the delicious Kos. Yet, for many, the long-wait till the fruit has earned the title ‘Waraka’ is worth it.
During the period when the fruit has ripened, the sugary fragrance of Waraka can be sniffed out from a mile away. The golden yellow pods are thick, juicy and honeyed, probably why it is called ‘Peni Waraka’ in Sinhalese. The flavour of the fruit fills the mouth and overpowers the taste buds. Sri Lankans are absolutely crazy about this flavour, so much so that it’s now being infused in contemporary desserts such as Waraka Fritters (batter fried) with ice cream. Waraka smoothies are yummy and will give you an energy boost during the day.
Waraka is not just a tasty fruit. It’s filled with vitamins and minerals. Grandmothers say that eating Waraka will keep your skin wrinkle free, while its nutrients will boost your immune system and sooth the digestive system. Waela is another variety of the fruit that looks the same from outside, but is softer and tastes different to Waraka.
How you eat it!
Waraka is usually eaten straight from the fruit, but care is taken to remove the stringy rags; a very sticky process. The raw rags used to be thrown away, but now it is also deep fried and eaten as ‘jak fruit rag chips’. After the Waraka pods are cleaned, all you have to do is sit and enjoy.
For some added ‘oomph’ to your experience, garnish your bowlful of Waraka with a dose of pepper and a pinch of salt.