Jaffna Odiyal Kool, Sri Lankan Seafood Stew
Image Credit: Jaffna Kool, cjkit_chen@Instagram

Each culture in this world has its own uniqueness. They always contrast each other in many ways, whether a celebration or a feast. It is rightly said that exploring its culinary route is the best way to get familiar with a new culture. Let's spotlight one of the most celebrated culinary fares from the magnificent land of Sri Lanka, the exotic Odiyal Kool. When you mention this name to the natives of this country, you will see an instant spark in their eyes. It is also referred to as Jaffna Kool. A common claim is that Odiyal Kool is a Jaffna rendition of French bouillabaisse. For the unversed, Jaffna is the capital of Sri Lankan's northern province. 

Due to the time-to-time influence of various foreign cooking, most Sri Lankan dishes offer a unique fusion of flavour and taste. Odiyal Kool is an example of it, a hearty stew or one-pot meal. As mentioned before, Jaffna kool is believed to have a French connection, if not in its entirety, at least in getting inspired from the recipe. 

An assorted seafood and vegetables stew, Image Source: cjkit_chen@Instagram

The moniker comes from the fact that this spicy and tangy seafood stew is one of Jaffna's hallmark meals. Seafood, including prawns, crayfish, crabs, and several kinds of fish, are mixed with a tamarind-based stew in this dish. Given that it contains a variety of veggies and spices, it scores excellent grades for nutrition. Traditionally, odiyal, a flour derived from palmyra tuber, thicken it. Usually, special events and family social affairs are when Jaffna kool is served. The base for this kool is 'Odiyal', typically a healthy and nutritious root produced by boiling palm roots and then sun-drying them. The taste and the look of the dish make it fairly tempting. If Odiyal flour is not available, corn flour can be a good alternative.


  • Odiyal or Odiyal flour (palmyra) – 1 cup
  • Chopped mixed vegetables (eggplant, jackfruit seeds, yard-long beans, small green drumstick leaves, manioc, ash plantain) – 100gm each
  • Chopped mixed seafood (prawns, crab meat, squids etc.) – 100gm each, 
  • Boiled rice – ½ cup
  • Dried red chillies – 5- 10 (as per preference)
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tbsp (as per preference)
  • Pepper powder – 1tbsp (as per preference)
  • Tamarind extract – ½ cup
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Water – 2 litres

The hearty Odiyal kool, Image Source: cjkit_chen@Instagram


  • Grind the Odiyal into flour or use ready-made Odiyal flour.
  • Dry grind the cumin seeds, red chillies and pepper and set aside.
  • Boil the vegetables in a pot with half a litre of water.
  • Boil the seafood in a separate pot with half a litre of water.
  • Once the vegetables and seafood are cooked, pour them into a big vessel, place on the flame and add a litre of water.
  • Let it simmer for a 2-5 minutes, and season it with tamarind extract 
  • Once this stew of veggies and seafood starts to boil, slowly and carefully blend the odiyal flour and keep stirring it gently to avoid forming lumps. Let them all cook for some time.
  • Now blend in the cooked rice and season with turmeric powder, ground spice blend and salt to taste
  • Keeping the flame low to medium, cook for another 3-5 minutes
  •  More water can be added depending on individual preference.
  •  Remove from the flame and serve hot in medium-sized bowls.

Try this easy yet hearty recipe of Odiyal Kool and let us know if it is really Jaffna's version of French Bouillabaisse.