kokis and oil cake: taste + technique

kokis and oil cake

Kokis are a Sri Lankan treat made especially to celebrate the new year (celebrated on April 13/14.) They are one of the only Sri Lankan treats I actually enjoy–and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or to put any of them down. Millions of people enjoy love cake or the oil cakes you see in the forefront of this picture. I’ve just never been a fan of spice cakes. But I do love that these cakes are made in oil and not baked!

Oil cakes are made from a batter of oil and spices, and fried by adding a batter-dipped stick into hot oil. Then more batter is added around it as it fries. The stick is swizzed out while the cake sits in the oil to continue cooking. Kokis are made by seasoning an intricately cut metal mould in very hot oil, then dipping the mold in a rice flour, coconut and turmeric batter to coat everything except the top of the mould. The mould is then placed back in the hot oil and the batter is wiggled off of it after a few seconds–which is why you have to make sure the batter doesn’t get on the top of the mould or the kokis couldn’t slide off. I am fascinated by these techniques. The wheel and star moulds are most traditional, and the tear drop-shaped mould represents Sri Lanka, since that is the shape of the island! I’m sure there are auspicious reasons to eat kokis during new year celebrations. I like them any time because they are fried, crunchy and are possibly the best beer snack ever. (Hi Mom and Dad!)