One way to truly experience the authenticity of life in Sri Lanka would be to hit the markets. When in Jaffna it mostly feels as though you are in a different part of the world altogether. The air is warm but still refreshing, the sun is warm and humid, but despite the unease, you can’t help wanting to explore the region. Heading towards the market is the best way to mingle with the locals and find how things are done in town.
What’s so special about the markets in Jaffna you may ask? The local residents seem to have put the abundant Palmyrah trees to good use and come up with various food items and other trinkets. You’ll find it interesting that this tree is a palm tree much like the coconut tree, and yet oodles of food items are produced from it. The fruit, the flour, a type of jaggery, the list goes on. Jaggery is a truly wonderful sweet treat to munch on with a hot cup of plain tea. You’ll even find pieces of sweet roots to bite on as a snack. Might seem bizarre for the first timer but it definitely is another worldly experience filled with enticing encounters. Buttermilk fried chillies are found here…sacks and sacks of it! The aroma is sure to entice your taste buds. If you are wondering what they really are, its red chillies coated in curd and fried to perfection.
Furthermore, there are all sorts of traditional sweets that belong to the area alone. If you are a fan of sweets, then try some laddus or peanut candy called pani caju in the local language is a must-try! Walk a little further and the smell of fish will infiltrate your nostrils. Although, not a very pleasant smell, the dried fish sold in these markets are absolutely yummy once cooked. You’ll even find dried prawns coloured in an enticing orange hue! But that’s not all. The fresh vegetables here as well are grown in Jaffna and would be delicious in a dish.
At first glance, it may not seem like it, but the Jaffna market is one of the most unique markets on the island. This is because the people here tend to strictly stick to their culture and the western approach to things haven’t reached this area as of yet. So, take delight in bargaining with the local vendors and walking through stalls in the heat of the day for a delightful exploration experience – at the true north of Sri Lanka!