Sri Lankan rice flakes or “Habala Pethi” in Sinhalese is a great source of most of the essential nutrients. Ceylonese people have been enjoying number of tasty dishes made out of it since ancient times. Among those dishes sweet rice flakes balls are what must be holding the crown. Before I get on to its recipe, let me tell you the true traditional methods of producing these flakes. First, they take raw rice seeds (with rice hulls) and steam or boil. Then, the cooked seeds are stir-roasted in a cooking pot under controlled heat. This is normally done by well experienced hands. After, these seeds are pounded in a mortar until they turn to flakes. Then, the separated hulls are removed using a winnowing basket (Kullen polanawa) and the flakes are sundried accordingly. However, Ceylonese folks had an easier way to produce them as well. Back in old days, even still in countryside, they never threw away the leftover cooked rice. Instead, they sundried them for later use. Mothers made tasty foods like rice flakes and sweet rice balls (Aggala) out of these. They, took semi-sundried steamed rice and pounded with a pestle and mortar to make flakes. Then, once again, sundried until they reach the expected quality. Today, rice flakes are made with advanced machinery and we don’t have to worry about working hard to make them.
How to make Sweet Rice Flakes Balls
- 200g of rice flakes (Habala Pethi)
- ¾ cup of small pieces of jagary or ½ – ¾ cups of sugar (Adjust to your taste)
- 1 ½ cups of craped fresh coconut
- ½ tsp of table salt
- Water as needs
- A Pestle and mortar(optional)
First, soak the flakes in lukewarm water for about 15 minutes and squeeze off the water with your hands. Then, add coconut, sugar and salt to flakes and hand mix thoroughly in a squeezing like motion. Add water only if you feel like it’s too dry to make balls out of the mixture. Normally, it is not necessary to add more water. Finally, make balls with your hands. Remember to adjust sugar and salt to your taste. I normally add around ½ a cup of sugar at first and then adjust to my taste.
Traditionally, all these ingredients were combined with a pestle and mortar. Use a mortar only if you are using jaggery. Frankly, I don’t recommend you to use a mortar if you are using sugar, just hand mix and it will work like magic. Anyways, you don’t need a mortar at all to make this. You can scrape the jaggery and hand mix same as with sugar.