January 26, 2023

Kumbuk Heritage Breakfast

If you’re curious about authentic local fare, you’ve arrived at the perfect island. Cape Weligama’s al-fresco village style breakfast at Kumbuk offers a taste bud-teasing spectrum of savoury, spicy, and sweet flavours. 

It’s a bright and beautiful morning as I walk along the cobblestone pathways leading towards the east side of the resort and come across the Cove Pool, beside which Kumbuk lays. Designed to look and feel like a village, it is here guests experience the heritage breakfast. 

The server calls out a friendly ‘Ayubowan’ welcoming me. I smile and reciprocate the greeting, picking a spot beneath a large tree that faces the pool and Indian Ocean beyond. As is tradition, the first question posed is a choice between ‘yaara the’ or ‘kiri kopi’ to begin the experience. The name yaara the, originated from the unique way in which the tea is poured; from a higher angle to a glass which makes the tea form a froth. This type of tea was thought to have developed from Kerala; however the popularity of the milky frothy tea gradually spread to countries like ours and now is a nation favourite. Kiri kopi on the other hand is made of Sri Lankan finely ground coffee, brewed with boiling water and finished off with condensed milk. 

The sea breeze occasionally swings by, filling the air with a salty ting. The sun peeks through the shady trees. There’s bird chatter from somewhere above. I’ve picked the frothy tea and patiently wait as the server walks up beside me to begin the pour. There’s an art to it I suppose; a unique skill to pulling the top flask containing the hot tea, and then angling from a distance to pour it into the glass. He’d do it just once, and perhaps twice or thrice depending on how frothy the guests would prefer it. Quite theatrical I must add. One pull and pour and a few sips later, I’m in tea heaven. 

A bread basket is then placed. There’s an assortment of three types of bread – kimbula banis, pani pol paan and seeni banis. Kimbula banis takes the shape of a crescent bun which is sprinkled with finely ground white sugar. The bun was originally called viyaana (or viyan roll), suggesting that it has its origins in Vienna, and was introduced to Sri Lanka during the colonial times. Over time however the name changed after the children thought it’s shape took after that of a crocodile, hence the name kimbula which means crocodile in Sinhalese. A pani pol paan is a bread filled with grated coconut and kithul treacle (the liquid version of jaggery). The seeni banis is a hot bun yet again sprinkled with sugar and ideally consumed with a hot cup of tea or coffee. 

Next comes the kola kanda, a green porridge made using brown rice, coconut, garlic and gotu kola (pennywort). This porridge has numerous health and nutritional benefits as it promotes healing, cools the body and improves memory. I’m also served a bowl of habala pethi that almost looks like a type of cereal, made by pressurising or beating parboiled rice which is rich in iron. This gives it its flattened look and is easily digestible.  

My tummy was on the verge of filling up but the mains arrived a couple of minutes after I’d had a spoonful of the cereal. The serving includes a plate of kurakkan pittu which is made of bran flour and grated coconut steamed together in a cylindrical shaped mould. The mung kiribath is made of green gram (a type of lentil) and rice cooked in creamy coconut milk. The final item is pol roti (coconut roti) served with fish ambulthiyal, potato white curry and dhal. Ambulthiyal originates from Southern Sri Lanka and is made using tuna. The tuna is marinated with gamboge and black pepper to bring out a unique flavour and then cooked in a clay pot with a banana leaf at the bottom, which has been recognised as an ancient traditional cooking method in our island. 

I’d recommend taking your time enjoying the heritage breakfast. This is one meal you’d not want to rush. This is also one meal you’d not want to miss out on a single serving of the different types of food; each quite different from the other, combined to create a truly Sri Lankan breakfast experience. 

The hearty and wholesome meal is topped with a cup of ginger tea known to ease digestion and increase absorption of food.