Tambili—The “King” of Coconuts
BY AWAKE! WRITER IN SRI LANKA
TAMBILI, often referred to in English as king coconut, is the Sinhala name for the fruit of the aurantiaca coconut palm. The aurantiaca is a very attractive palm, which after six to eight years produces large bright-orange nuts in clusters year-round. The tambili nut is about a foot [30cm] long and weighs about three pounds [1.5 kg]. It can be found in abundance all across the tropical island of Sri Lanka. In fact, in the Sinhala language, the word tambili refers not only to the nut but also to its distinctive bright-orange color.
But how is a drink obtained from a tambili? The tambili is plucked as a young fruit. Then the top of the husk covering the nut is sliced away and the nut is pierced. Up to a quart of almost clear tambili water can then be drawn from inside the nut. It is delicious, sweet, and nutritious. Sri Lankan hospitality will often include serving tambili water to a tired and thirsty visitor.
When you are traveling on the island of Sri Lanka, you will find roadside stalls selling tambili everywhere, and the price is quite low. The vendor will expertly cut the top from the nut, insert a straw and, voilà, you will have a hygienic, refreshing, healthful drink. If you are an adventurous visitor, you may wish to try drinking from a tambili local style, by throwing back your head and pouring the water straight from the nut, but if you are not an expert, you may spill more than you drink!
The health benefits of tambili are well-known to any Sri Lankan. It is said that tambili water will expel heat from the body and soothe the digestive system. The water contains quite a few minerals, some carbohydrates, fats, calcium, vitamin C, phosphorus, iron, and a little protein. The electrolytic balance of the mixture makes it an ideal hydration drink for those suffering from heat exhaustion, gastric upset, or cholera. While water sources cannot always be guaranteed to be clean, tambili is a natural, hermetically sealed source of a pure beverage that is also good for you.
If you come to visit the lush shores of tropical Sri Lanka, we are sure that you will appreciate the vivid hues of the tambili palm adorning many a tropical garden or golden beach and also enjoy its refreshing drink.