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What is Pani Walalu
“Pani Walalu/ Undu Walalu” is a traditional new year’s treat from Sri Lanka, and is made from roasted urad dal (black gram), jaggery (unrefined cane sugar), coconut milk, and spices. Although there are only a few ingredients required for this dish, you must plan ahead because the beans must first be soaked before being mashed into a paste, which must then undergo a lengthy fermentation process. The name “pani walalu” literally translates to “coconut oil cake,” as it is made by frying balls of dough in coconut oil.
To make pani walalu, the dough is poured as coils and then deep-fried in oil until they are golden brown and crispy. The fried ones are then removed from the oil and immediately placed into a hot syrup made from treacle, sugar, and water. The balls soak in the syrup for a few minutes, absorbing the sweet flavors and becoming soft and sticky.
Pani walalu is often served during special occasions and festivals in Sri Lanka, such as weddings, religious ceremonies, and the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. It is a popular sweet snack that is enjoyed by both children and adults alike. The combination of the crispy fried dough and the sweet, sticky syrup makes for a delicious and satisfying treat.
History of Pani Walalu
The history of pani walalu traced back to the ancient times in Sri Lanka, when coconut trees were abundant and widely used in cooking. It is believed that pani walalu was first made by the Sinhalese people, who are the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka. The snack was originally made as an offering to the gods during religious ceremonies and festivals.
Ingredients for Pani Walalu
- Rice flour
- Coconut milk
- Cardamom powder
- Oil for deep frying
Optional ingredients for flavoring and texture
Coconut flakes or grated coconut (1/4 cup)
Crushed peanuts or cashews (1/4 cup)
Jaggery is an unrefined cane sugar that is commonly used in Sri Lankan cuisine. If you cannot find jaggery, you can substitute it with brown sugar or palm sugar.
- 1 cup Urad Dal/Undu
- 1/4 cup Rice Flour
- 1/4 cup All purpose flour/bread flour
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- Thick coconut milk as needed
- 2 cup Dark brown sugar or honey
- 1/2 cup Water
- 2 Pinches salt
- Oil for deep frying
- Soak Urad dal/Undu overnight. (or 8-10 hours)
- Then, drain water and grind urad dal with coconut milk into a smooth paste.
- Mix the ground urad dal with rice flour and all-purpose flour.
- Cover with plastic wrap. Let the batter ferments for 12 hours or if you live in a colder area this could take more than 12 hours.
- Then transfer the mixture to a piping bag.
- Make the sugar syrup by heating dark brown sugar, water, and salt in a saucepan. You can substitute dark brown sugar with white sugar or jaggery or even use treacle as a substitute for syrup.
- Heat enough oil to deep fry in a frying pan.
- Put the batter into the oil as the shape of coil. Keep the piping bag closer to the surface of the oil so it's easier to get the right shape.
- Fry them until golden brown. When it’s golden brown immediately transfer to the warm syrup. Do not crowd the pan and soak one Pani Walalu at a time in the sugar syrup.
- Leave the Pani Walalu in syrup for a few seconds until it absorbs the syrup and transfer into a clean plate.