Sinhala and Tamil New Year Part 02: Delicious snacks from “Avurudu kema mesaya,” or “New Year Feast”

A collage of pictures of “Avurudu kema mesaya,” or New Year Feast prepared for Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka.

If you read my previous post about the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, you know my favorite thing about our new year is the special New Year Feast. After 12 hours of fasting that precedes the dawn of the new year, trust me when I say that everyone who is celebrating the Sinhala and Tamil New Year is looking forward to this magnificent, mouth-watering assortment of delicious foods that we call “Avurudu Kema Mesaya” in Sinhala. Today I will tell you about some of the most delicious sweets that we prepare for the new year. If you visit Sri Lanka around the time of this joyful celebration, which falls in April every year, don’t forget to try the real, authentic Sri Lankan taste through these delightful snacks.

If you didn’t get the chance to read the post about “Sinhala and Tamil New Year: The Happiest Time in Sri Lanka,” I recommend you read it before reading this article. This article is a continuation of that.

Milk rice (Kiri Bath) - Centerpiece of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year feast

Milk rice, or “Kiri bath” in Sinhala, is the centerpiece of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year feasts. It is always the first meal that is prepared after the dawn of the new year. It is customary to first boil milk until it overflows in a newly bought clay pot, and then make the milk rice. The overflowing of milk, or “Kiri Ithiraweema” in Sinhala, is thought to bring prosperity in the upcoming new year.

Kiribath is a simple meal that requires just three main ingredients. Rice, coconut milk, and a pinch of salt. The rice is cooked with coconut milk until it turns into a porridge with a semi-solid consistency. It is then spread out onto a tray and divided into diamond- or square-shaped pieces.

Milk rice (Kiribath)_One of the snacks in “Avurudu kema mesaya,” or New Year Feast prepared for Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka.
Kiribath with Lunu miris

The simplicity of the preparation process doesn’t do justice to its cultural value in Sri Lanka. Kiribath is a symbol of prosperity and celebration. It is prepared not only for the New Year celebration but for any auspicious and joyful occasion. To be honest, since it’s so easy to make, we make it for breakfast often. No matter how many times we eat milk or rice, we never get tired of it.

Milk rice goes very well with the simple Sri Lankan chili paste called “Lunu Miris.” It is also very simple to make. Some onions, chili flakes, and a pinch of salt are blended together, and at the end, some lemon juice is added. Well! Traditionally, we make Lunu Miris with a mortar and pestle. Nowadays, almost everyone uses the blender. But it is said that if you want to get the real, authentic taste, you should make it like in the old days. with a mortar and pestle.

The combination of the spicy, salty Lunu Miris and the creamy, milky Kiri bath is a match made in heaven. But I must warn you not to eat too much Lunu Miris at once. If you do so, it will definitely make you cry.

”Don’t say I didn’t; say I didn’t warn you” (Taylor Swift-Blank Space (Taylor’s version)).

Kavum (Oil cakes)

The next main item in the New Year feast is oil cakes, or “Kavum” in Sinhala. Kavum and Kiribath always come together. Similar to Kiribath, Kavum also has huge cultural importance and is prepared for every celebration. Unlike Kiribath, which we prepare even for breakfast, Kavum is only prepared for special occasions.

Kavum is a sweetmeat made by deep-frying a batter. The basis of the batter, or dough, is always the same. It consists of rice and wheat flour, honey, treacle or sugar syrup, and a pinch of salt. There are many types of Kavum made by making small additions to this basic batter.

Mung kavum, Konda kavum, Kokis, Peni walalu (Undu wel)_Some of the sweets in “Avurudu kema mesaya,” or New Year Feast prepared for Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka
From top right in clockwise direction, here we have Konda kavum, Kokis, Undu wel and Mung kavum

Making kavum takes a lot of work. So it is always better to have help in the kitchen. When we make kavum at home, my mother assigns tasks to each of us so we can make oil cakes faster. I never felt it was a chore. The preparation of sweets for the New Year is part of the fun, just as is enjoying the sweets.

Konda Kavum: The King of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year Feast

Konda Kavum means oil cakes with a hair bun. There is a bump on the oil cake that resembles the hair bun of ladies (or gents), which gave the name to the oil cake. This is one of the hardest types of oil cakes to make.

The batter itself is simple and made from rice flour and treacle. But it is the molding of the batter with the help of the oil spoon (“thel handa”) and stick (“kura”) after it is poured into the wok with hot oil that brings the perfect Konda Kevuma to life. And trust me when I say that this process needs practice and patience. So Konda Kavum is not the first choice of oil cakes to make for the New Year if someone is starting in the kitchen.

Konda Kavum_One of the sweets in “Avurudu kema mesaya,” or New Year Feast prepared for Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka.
Konda kavum

Making konda kavum is a work of art. You can’t rush it. It is necessary to have the right skills.

To get the bump right, the batter should be of the right consistency, there should be the correct movement of the “kura,” the correct splashing of oil on the oil cake, and the correct amount of fire to get the optimal heat of the oil. And also, the shape of the wok that you use to make the Konda Kavum plays a role in this too.

Since it’s a lot of work, Sri Lankans found a shortcut to make konda kavum. Nowadays, many people use a mold to shape the oil cake. Even though it is easy and time-saving, I must say it takes all the fun out of the preparation of konda kavum. It doesn’t give that feeling of accomplishment when you mold the oil cake by yourself. Wouldn’t you agree?

My father makes really good Konda Kavum. He’s a pro. Everyone in our village knows how good he makes them. So when people visit our home during the New Year period, the first thing they ask is whether he made Konda Kavum this year.

Mung Kavum

When mung flour is added to the basic oil cake batter, we can make mung kavum. When making mung kavum, a dough is made by mixing the rice flour, mung flour, treacle, and a pinch of salt. In the next step, we spread the dough on a flat surface. Then we cut diamond-shaped pieces from the batter. After that, these pieces are coated with a batter made with wheat flour, water, a pinch of salt, and some turmeric, and then they are deep-fried.

Mung Kavum_One of the sweets in “Avurudu kema mesaya,” or New Year Feast prepared for Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka.
Mung kavum

Mung guli

When Mung Kavum dough is made into balls, coated with batter, and fried, it is called Mung Guli. They taste like Mung Kavum. Only the shape is different.

Mung Kavum vs. Konda Kavum

Mung Kavum is a type of oil cake that is easy to make and gives a lot of Kavum at the end. You can cook a lot of Mung Kavum with a little effort compared to Konda Kavum, which takes skill to make, is time-consuming, and gives a smaller amount of oil cakes at the end. The effort doesn’t match the quantity. But if made correctly, there is nothing that can be compared to a Konda Kavum. It is a piece of art that is both aesthetically pleasing to the eye and super tasty when you bite into it. In Sri Lanka, we consider Konda Kavum to be the king of all oil cakes.

Athirasa Kavum

This is a coin-shaped oil cake. Athirasa literally means “extremely tasty” when translated to English. It is actually very tasty, just as the name suggests.

The dough is made from rice flour and wheat flour combined. The additives, like cumin and sesame seeds, are mixed with the flour. And then a handsome amount of treacle or sugar syrup is used to bring all the dry ingredients together until we get a nice, thick dough. Small balls of dough are taken and flattened on an oiled surface. Then they are deep-fried until golden brown.

My mother says we shouldn’t eat oil cakes as soon as they are made. First, they have to be stored in a paper-lined clay pot so that all the extra oil is drained out. According to her, on the second or third day, oil cakes taste best after all the oil has drained out.

Handi kavum

Out of all the oil cakes, this is the easiest and most fail-proof type. So, it is the obvious choice for all the ladies (or gents) who are new to the kitchen.

For Handi Kavum, the batter can be easily made in the blender by mixing rice flour, wheat flour, sugar, coconut milk, and water. Then the batter is taken by spoon and poured into hot oil little by little.

Handi Kavum_One of the sweets in “Avurudu kema mesaya,” or New Year Feast prepared for Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka.
Handi kavum

The name “Handi Kavum” means oil cakes made with a spoon. The name is derived from the fact that the batter is poured into oil with the help of a spoon.

This is a tasty oil cake that is also easy to make. So you will find this often at the Sinhala and Tamil New Year feasts.

I remember when I was little, my sister made Handi Kavum for the first time. And it was so good that all the oil cakes were finished by the next day. There were none left, even to share with our neighbors. She was a newbie in the kitchen back then. But she nailed Handi Kavum on her first try. So if you want to try making Sri Lankan oil cakes yourself, I suggest you start with Handi Kavum too. And there are so many YouTube videos that will help you with the recipe and the process of making Handi Kavum. Give it a try.

Pani Walalu (Undu wel)

This is one of my favorite sweets at the Sinhala and Tamil New Year feasts. These sweet, honey-filled coils fill everyone who tastes them with joy and happiness.

Pani walalu is also known as “undu wel” because the batter for making pani walalu is made from Urud dhal and rice flour. Urud-dhal is called “Undu” in Sinhala.

When making pani walalu, the batter is poured into hot oil in the shape of a coil. Once the coil is golden brown, it is transferred to a pot of treacle or sugar syrup. The coil will soak up the syrup, and the delicious sweetness will enter the pores of the coil and transform it into a pani walalu.

Peni walalu (Undu wel)_One of the sweets in “Avurudu kema mesaya,” or New Year Feast prepared for Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka.
Pani walalu (Undu wel)


Not all the sweets in Avurudu Kema Mesaya are deep-fried. Aluwa is a delicious sweet made from just roasted rice flour and sugar syrup. We add cashew, vanilla, and sometimes a little bit of butter to make it tastier. All of the ingredients are mixed into a dough and then flattened on a flat surface coated with roasted rice flour. In the final step, some more roasted rice flour is sprinkled on top of the flattened dough, and then it is cut into diamond-shaped pieces.

I made aluwa and gave some to my friends to taste. And they still talk about how tasty it is. You wouldn’t believe the combination of these ingredients would result in such a delicious treat until you tried a piece of aluwa.

Weli Thalapa

Welithalapa is another one of my favorites. It is prepared with rice flour that has been made into small grains, just like sand. Which gives the name for the sweet. “Weli” in Sinhala means sand.

These rice flour grains are steamed, added to a sugar syrup, and then cooked until they reach the correct consistency. Then the mixture is spread onto a tray, and square or diamond-shaped pieces are cut from it. We add spices like cardamom to the sugar syrup, which gives it a distinctive taste.

I told you before that my father is a pro when it comes to making Konda Kavum. Just like that, my mother is so popular in our village for her legendary Weli Thalapa. They are so tasty that if there is an almsgiving in the village, the organizers always ask my mom to make Weli thalapa.

Almsgiving is a religious event where we give offerings to Lord Buddha and monks and get blessings. Usually, everyone in the village participates in it in some way. (Whether it will be by preparing some dishes, some sweets, donating money, and so on.)

A collage of pictures of “Avurudu kema mesaya,” or New Year Feast prepared for Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka. In the middle there is a happy Sri Lankan family next to the feast. On the top there is a picture of Asian Koel and the sun, which are common symbols to denote Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka.
The New year Feast brings happiness to everyone in the family


Aggala is a ball-shaped sweetmeat in the New Year’s feast that is both sweet and hot at the same time. To make Aggala, first we have to roast rice and grind it with some pepper seeds into a powder. After that, it is mixed with sugar syrup and made into balls. Finally, the balls are coated with some more roasted rice flour. The sugar syrup should be made with brown sugar or with jaggery to get a darker color. Or we can caramelize some sugar and add it to the syrup if we are using white sugar.

Sometimes we like to add some shredded coconut to the sugar syrup. That adds more flavor and makes the Aggala softer.

The sugar syrup has to be lukewarm when mixing with the dry ingredients. If we mix hot syrup, the Aggala becomes super hard and stony. You’ll break your teeth trying to bite it.


Dodol is a jelly-like, dark-colored candy that is made from rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, spices, and cashews. All the dry and wet ingredients (except cashews) are mixed to form a batter, and then it is heated under medium heat while constantly mixing with a flat spoon called “paththa” in Sinhala.

Making dodol is a time-consuming job that requires a lot of labor. Usually, it is a group activity. When one person is tired of stirring the mixture, another person starts to do it. When the mixture thickens, the force needed to stir the mixture increases, and on top of that, the intensity of mixing has to increase to avoid the mixture getting stuck to the pot. When the mixture reaches the correct consistency, cashew is added, and then it is transferred to a greased tray and flattened. After cooling down, we can cut it into pieces.

When you taste a piece of dodol, you will understand why Sri Lankans go through all this trouble to make this sweet. It is totally worth all the work that is necessary in preparation because Dodol is like a piece of heaven on earth. It really is that good. Trust me.


Aasmi is another aesthetically pleasing sweet that you will see in our New Year feast. The white noodle looking sweet with bright pink or green sugar syrup on top is Aasmi.

Making Aasmi is also time-consuming work that requires practice. For Aasmi, the batter has to be silky. We add different ingredients to make it so. In my home, we add the leaves of the “Kudu Dawula Tree (Neolitsea fuscata)”.

Did you know?

Kudu Dawula Tree (Neolitsea fuscata) leaves look similar to cinnamon leaves. But they are not the same.

First, we make a paste of Kudu Dawula leaves with a mortar and pestle. Then we strain it and add it to the batter, which is made with rice flour and coconut milk. Then the silky batter is sprinkled like continuous threads with the help of fingers into hot oil to make the noodle-looking base of Aasmi.

Did you know?

The batter has to be silky, because when we pour the batter into hot oil using our fingers, it won’t stick to them and easily gets poured like strings when it’s silky.

After frying this base part, it has to be stored for a day or two and again fried in hot oil to make it crunchy. After that, colored sugar syrup is poured on top to finalize the Aasmi.

Aasmi_One of the sweets in “Avurudu kema mesaya,” or New Year Feast prepared for Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka.

Aasmi will fill your tummy even though it looks like it won’t. So I suggest you try all the other sweets in the New Year feast first and finally try Aasmi. Otherwise, if you try Aasmi first, you’ll be full before trying the other delicious treats in the New Year feast.


Kokis is a crunchy, salty snack that is not sweet like the other foods in the New Year’s feast. It is made from a batter made with rice flour, coconut milk,eggs, turmeric, and a pinch of salt. If you add some sesame seeds and chopped curry leaves, the taste increases 100 times more.

A special Kokis mold is dipped in the thick batter, and then it is deep-fried in hot oil. The batter falls off the mold when it is cooked.

It is believed Kokis comes from the Dutch influence on the country when it was colonized by them.

If you don’t like sweets very much, you will love Kokis. I can munch kokis all day long. It’s so tasty that you won’t feel time passing.

Kokis_One of the sweets in “Avurudu kema mesaya,” or New Year Feast prepared for Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka.

Naran kavum

Naran Kavum is a delicacy made by deep-frying a ball of sweetened coconut meat coated in a batter that is similar to the one that we use to coat Mung Kavum. The filling of sweetened coconut (Peni pol) is made by adding coconut shreddings to sugar syrup. Spices like cardamom and cloves are added to sweetened coconut to increase its flavor and aroma profile.

The final product is crunchy on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside. When you bite into Naran Kavum, you will feel the blend of all the sweetness and spices that perfectly combine together to take you on a flavorful journey to heaven and back.

Mung Guli and Naran Kevum look the same. But they are totally different kinds of sweets, each with their own unique taste profiles.

Uda Belum

This is a sweet that is made in the southern part of Sri Lanka. Uda Belum crumbles in your mouth and dissolves as soon as you bite into it.

It has a puffed-up, balloon-shaped pocket and a filling inside it.

The filling is not solid but has a sandy, crumbly texture.

Fun facts:

“Uda Belum” in Sinhala means “Look up.” It’s because you have to look up while eating “uda belum” so that you won’t drop crumbles on the floor. This sweet will crumble and fall to the ground if you try eating it while looking down.


Cake is definitely not a traditional Sri Lankan sweet. But it is something that will always be present at our New Year feast. Even when someone doesn’t have any time to prepare traditional Sri Lankan sweets, he will at least buy a cake to celebrate the New Year.

“Avurudu kema mesaya,” or New Year Feast prepared for Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka.
It's really hard to decide from which sweet to start eating, right?


The New Year’s feast will be incomplete without a bunch of bananas. Bananas go well with any of the sweets in the feast. You really can’t go wrong if you try eating any sweet with bananas.

Did you know?

In Sri Lanka, we bury raw bananas and smoke them to speed up the ripening process. I remember when I was little, my father used to do this. We dig a pit and cover the bottom of it with a bunch of leaves from a special kind of tree. Then we place the bananas on top of the leaves and cover the bananas with more leaves. Then the top of the pit is covered with a wooden or thin metal plank, and the pit is sealed with soil. On the side of the pit, we dig a small tunnel towards the pit. Through the opening of that tunnel, we smoke bananas at least twice a day. Every day, we check whether the bananas have ripened through the opening of the tunnel. When they are ripened, we take them out. Oh! The joyful feeling I get when we dig the bananas out to find out that all of them are beaming with bright yellow color is so precious. It’s like finding a hidden treasure. 

As I mentioned in the beginning, “Avurudu kema mesaya,” or the New Year feast, is the best part of the New Year for me. So I got lost in all my childhood memories of New Year feasts I got to enjoy while writing this article. I used to count days until the New Year as a kid, just to enjoy all the food that the New Year brings. I hope you enjoyed reading about these new-year foods as much as I enjoyed writing about them. If you get a chance, please try these sweets. If you have already tried them, let me know which sweet is your favorite in the comment section.

Did you read the post about “The Best Food to Try in Sri Lanka”? If you missed it, follow the above link to embark on a tasteful journey into delicious Sri Lankan cuisine.

I will meet you with another interesting post next week.

Until then, I say goodbye!

නැවත හමුවෙමු😉 (Newatha hamuwemu = Let’s meet again)

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