Traditional Sri Lankan Cooking Tools

Once upon a time… a day in Grandmas Kitchen…

Every day grandma gets up at 5Pm. She likes the glory of morning hours. She enjoys spending time in the garden, tending to her vegetable beds. She picks some fresh vegetables and herbs for the days cooking. She loves to put plenty of spices such as cumin, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, pepper and chilies. Like in many traditional rural homes, their kitchen is in the far corner of the huge house towards the rear side of “Mada Midula”.That’s the place where culinary magic starts happening…

Until 70’s, electrical equipment other than a refrigerator or an oven, were non existent in most rural kitchens. Cooking has never been a rush job back then. Now we live in an era of “isolated” families. Most families consist of a mother, a father and one or two kids. And at least 1 meal a day is bought from fast food outlets. Back then the scenario is quite different. All the ladies in the household join in cooking preparations. It’s an art to them, interesting discussions take place accomplishing the part that social media fulfills nowadays.

Grandma’s son, his wife and children and grandmas two unmarried sisters live in the huge house. Her married sister who lives close by, sometime come and join. There are a few cooking tools that they can’t do without. There are many tools in her kitchen made of bamboo, clay and a few metal items. Unlike in modern day’s pantries, her kitchen is free of loads of plastic stuff.

Traditional Sri Lankan cooking tools….


Mirisgala (chillie stone) is a grinding stone, a flat granite slab used for grinding chilies and other spices with a smaller tube shaped stone used somewhat like a rolling pin. It is a necessity for making very tasty Pol Sambol.

Wangediya and Mall Gala – A granite chalice-shaped mortar of varying sizes, in which, generally, soaked rice is pounded to make “hal piti” (rice flour). Pounding is accomplished with a lengthy, uniform pole called molgaha, made from the kitul palm tree. During the Aluth Avurudda (New Year) in April, the gal vangediya play a significant role in the pre-preparation  of special food.

Kulla – The kulla is a shallow basket, open at one end but the rest with a fencing lip, made of artistically woven cane, which, is used to separate the rice from the freshly harvested husks, known as vee. The method employed is to toss the rice in the air from the kulla so the chaff is dispersed, while the rice falls back into the enclosed part of the basket.

Nabiliya – A bowl-shaped utensil, traditionally made from terracotta is used for cleaning rice prior to cooking. It has a functional design with a pattern of sweeping grooves descending to the bottom.

Hiramanaya – With the amount of coconut used in Sri Lankan cooking, the Hiramanaya is really essential. The coconut is opened with a hatchet, its water drained into the ground or a drinking glass. Hiramanaya spins to work out the tough, mature coconut meat into soft, snowy flakes.

Kurahan Gala – The kurahan gala or grinding stone is a beautifully-shaped rock with a handle on the side and hole in the centre, placed upon a heavy round rock slab with a stick generally made of kithul wood stuck in the centre. The grain is placed in the hole in the middle and ground by turning the slab on top.