A Man's Quest for Culinary Truths

Mar 02, 2011
*Special to asia!

Social entrepreneur Dr. Darin Gunesekera’s latest mission is the branding of Sri Lankan cinnamon internationally.

Website Infolanka says the Sri Lanka cultivator harvests his main crop in the wet season, cutting the shoots close to the ground. The shoots are first scraped with a semicircular blade, then rubbed with a brass rod to loosen the bark. The bark is then split with a knife and peeled.

The peels are telescoped one into another forming a “quill” about 107 cm long and filled with trimmings of the same quality bark to maintain the cylindrical shape. After four or five days of drying, the quills are rolled on a board to tighten the filling and then left to dry in the sun.

Finally, they are bleached with sulphur dioxide and sorted into grades. A well-made cinnamon quill is a slim cane of uniform thickness, colour and quality, with edges neatly joined in a straight line end to end and looking like a tight roll of golden-brown, multi-ply paper. Chips are sold as medium-quality cinnamon for grinding into cinnamon powder, sold on its own or as “pudding spice” mixed with nutmeg, clove, cardamom, mace and allspice.

Cinnamon oil is used in food, liqueur, perfume and drugs.

Cinnamon goes into recipes for curries such as kormas and rendangs, and in the soup stock for the Vietnamese noodle dish pho. It is sprinkled on coffee, and lends its flavour to Western favourites such as gingerbread.

Click below to see a slideshow of cinnamon production then and now.


vivienne khooOnce a lifestyle editor at a website, a newspaper journalist and a food editor, Vivienne Khoo writes about luxury hotels, food and travel whenever she is not sub-editing. The perfume industry and essential oils are her pet topics at the moment.

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