The first time I had halapa was during a train ride from Peradeniya to Colombo. An elderly woman with a basket got onto the train at one of the stations and I noticed that a lot of people were buying her food. I was curious and decided to try out the snack she had made as I did not recognize it. It turned out to be halapa and I was intrigued. It became quite a ritual during my undergraduate years to buy this particular woman’s halapa during my travel home.
I didn’t come across halapa again till many years later when I visited some remote villages in Hambantota district and was served halapa that people had made in their homes. Hence, the reason why I have placed this snack as a specialty of Hambantota besides the fact that kurakkan is primarily grown in Hambantota district and the northern province.
I decided to try my hand at making this snack today and after searching the web, found a recipe for it on srilankanmenu.blogspot.com that I have slightly adapted here according to my taste. While I have used banana leaves, I would recommend using kanda leaves, if you can get hold of it because it adds a unique flavour and texture to the halapa.
Preparation time – ½ hour
Cooking time – 15 mins
Makes 12 mini halapa
- Kurakkan flour – 1 cup
- Coconut – ½ cup, freshly scraped
- Coconut treacle or kithul pani/ treacle – 4 tbsp
- Salt, to taste
- Banana or Kanda leaves
- Lightly heat the freshly scraped coconut in a saucepan and add the coconut treacle. Stir, while the mixture thickens. Remove from stove and allow it to cool.
- Add a pinch or two of salt to the kurakkan flour. Stir in the warm water and make the dough.
- Cut the banana leaf into 12 smaller pieces or use the kanda leaves.
- Taking a ball of the dough, spread it on a piece of banana leaf. Take a pinch of the coconut mixture and place it in the center and spread it lightly over the dough. Fold the leaf in half and ensure the edges are folded.
- Steam the halapa for 15 mins.
- Serve warm with tea.