Colombo Plogging Race


1. What is Plogging?

A Swedish trend of responsible citizenry of picking up whatever trash you see while you jog or walk on the road, beach etc.

2. How did the idea for the Colombo Plogging Race come about?


We had been thinking about something similar and we got a proposal from an individual who wanted to do it with Ananta. We jumped on the idea because all of Ananta's energy goes into community based projects to engage individuals with the waste issue. We believe change happens one by one, until it snowballs into lasting change.

3. Who was involved in the organization of this event?

Was it easy? It was Ananta Sustainables team of 3, one employee from FOX who drove the fox airtime and securing a location, and the individual that initially approached us.

4. How did you pick a location for the race?


We wanted somewhere accessible, and heavily populated, but also a place people could come hang out and enjoy themselves while they were at it. If we want cleaning up after ourselves in this nature, and custodianship of our beaches and natural environment to become popular it has to at the very least be enjoyable!

5. How did the Colombo Plogging Race go? Was it successful?

It was a grand success! 55 participants collected 1350+ kilograms of trash!!!! With many people requesting we do it even once a month!

6. What did you do with all of the trash collected?


We organized for the DMC to collect it, and verified the recyclers they were sending the segregated trash to were legitimate.

7. Do you think it fostered some long term changes (behavior changes) in the participants and the community?

A lot of us don't throw our trash everywhere, but we don't think about segregation and our consumption. This race incentivized segregation, because we had winners for each category of waste [Plastic, Metal, Glass, Landfiill- which is everything else that cannot be recycled because it's mixed material!] We had a lot of people say they never thought about where all their trash ends up, and how many categories of trash we generate!

8. Any future plans?


Another Plogging Race in another location? Yes! We need to keep the ball rolling! We haven't planned it yet, but we hope to have one soon!


Maker of the month - Ruwangi

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1. When did you start painting and designing?

I've been drawing since a very young age, coming from a family of artists, my grandparents and uncle, I've grown up around their skills and they have taught me so much. Though I only realized my passion for painting after completing my degree in Graphic Design, and feeling like I wanted to do more with my hands rather than in front of a computer.

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2. What is your favorite medium?

I use acrylic paints very regularly, though I am very interested in trying my hand at oil paints soon!

3. Could you walk us through your process of creating a piece of work?

With any kind of work, you need to find inspiration first. I draw a lot from things I see in nature, and my own emotions, and I'm also influenced by other artists I follow online, where I try to see if I could push myself to do something of similar standard to what I see them doing. I first make a draft of my ideas on photoshop, or a sketch on paper. Then roughly draw an outline on the wall/canvas and start painting.

4. What inspired you to begin working in this field?

Art is a way of expressing myself, and I feel like I can connect with a paintbrush or pencil, through which i can connect with people.

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5. In your experience, what is is it like to be a visual artist in Sri Lanka?

I feel like theres two sides to it, one being that since Colombo has a small close knit art-community, it is fairly easy for your work to be seen or heard, but at the same time, I feel that this limits potential.

6. What are some of your favorite works you have done?

I can't really say which one is my favourite. But the very first mural I ever did, for Cinnamon Red, was very memorable, as well as painting the 30ft mural for MAS. I have a continuing comic series, called the Space Motel, which I put a lot of myself into, that I enjoy doing.

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7. What next for you?

Honestly I have no idea, I was never very good at planning ahead, but hopefully I'd love to transition into doing more serious paintings full time, kind of re-evaluate my style and experiment more.


PLUS NINE FOUR – An Interview with Shana


How does it feel to open up your third café in Colombo and how different was it from the other two cafés? 

PLUS NINE FOUR has been in the making for the past 6-8 months so it feels great to finally have it open to the public! There were plenty of times I thought it wasn’t going to happen but I can safely say the blood, sweat and tears were worth it. I feel that PLUS NINE FOUR is definitely more an extension of us (mum and I) and our personalities than our other two cafes. We’ve learnt a lot in the past two years opening up Café Kumbuk and Kumbuk Kitchen and we put that to great use this time around.

Obviously the name PLUS NINE FOUR is something different and its confusing for people as to why we didn’t want to have it under the Kumbuk umbrella. Seeing as we are in partnership with Soul Coffee on this project we wanted to choose something a little different and quirky and ultimately diversify the brand. PLUS NINE FOUR focuses mainly on locally sourced coffee and come June we’ll be adding some simple and delicious hot food to the menu. The space itself is quaint and lovely with a secret garden vibe to it that we love so much (except in Monsoon season).


What makes Plus Nine Four stand apart from the other two spaces that belong to the Kumbuk family? 

Its got its own flavor and feel to it, in terms of design, atmosphere, food and drink offering. Most people who have come across PLUS NINE FOUR in its early days had no idea it was linked to Café Kumbuk which is kind of the reaction we were after. Kumbuk will always be our first love but there’s always room for something different.

Soul Coffee has been making its name around the Island as one the best coffee brands in our country. How did this partnership come about and what makes their coffee so special? 

We’ve been working with Soul Coffee for over two years now. We partnered with them to provide coffee to both Kumbuk cafes and we instantly hit it off! Rinosh is a good friend, great landlord and he knows his coffee so we are super happy to be in partnership with him and his team. I love the fact that Soul Coffee is grown and roasted here in Sri Lanka. They work with small holder farms and plantations to source select coffee beans. The coffee is grown without using any environment – devastating monoculture practices and they follow ethical farming standards. They’re also fellow Good Market approved vendors so that helps. Drop by the café and taste the goodness for yourself!


Did you do the interior and design of the space by yourself or was there someone behind the creation of the space? 

I worked with Avisha de Saram Interiors to conceptualize the space and then liaised with various different makers to fabricate the various different pieces you see in the café. We wanted to go for something quite airy and cozy. I love the fact that all our cafes are open plan and don’t depend on AC to keep them cool. Big shout out here goes to Robert from Idea Hub who made the most incredible coffee counter for us – not easy considering the odd slanted walls we had to work with!

Hot food started at PLUS NINE FOUR in June. Can we expect to see a larger menu soon or will it be limited to the items on the menu now? 

The PLUS NINE FOUR hot food menu is small but delicious! We’ve focused on finding special gourmet ingredients from small scale suppliers to create simple yet sophisticated dishes. Our topped toasts are incredibly popular, using bread from, we hope to expand this range over time. We’ve got a fantastic kiri toffee brioche French toast and soon we’ll be releasing our ash plantation burger and lamb naan. The food should be tasty and simple!


From what you've experience so far, how has the new space been received by the community of Colombo? 

I think those that have visited dig it! They like the chilled vibes, the coffee and most importantly the space itself. I think there’s plenty of room in Colombo for more cafes and we are glad to be offering something new to the community of Colombo.

What is your favorite drink and dessert on the menu? 

Favourite drink has got to be the Passionfruit and Mint Iced Tea – super refreshing in the heat and goes easy on the sugar! As for dessert – it has to be the chocolate coffee ice cream tart. Our pastry chef Pulina has done a fantastic job getting our dessert menu going and we can’t wait to see what else he’s got up his sleeves.


Maker of the Month – Ninalu by Luka

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1. Can you please share some details about you and your life? 

My professional background is in photography which has been which has been very useful for my brand Ninalu and definitely has some aesthetic impact as well.
I have German and Sri Lankan family background which I’m bringing together in my work. I’m interested in minimal aesthetics and what nature has to offer.

2. How did Ninalu begin and what inspired you to start it? 

As I always liked collecting things I find outside, giving something ordinary & simple more attention as well as using my hands to create something - it all came together when I had the impulse to make myself a necklace.

3. Can you tell us how you draw inspiration from your two homes of Berlin, Germany and Sri Lanka? 

I love being in nature and discovering the details in our surrounding which influences me a lot. I'm intrigued bringing together minimal German aesthetics and environmental aspects.

4. Where do you source your materials from? 

The materials I use have different sources, all the silver is recycled sterling silver with the guarantee of no child labor involved.

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5. What have been the most challenging and interesting parts of your journey with Ninalu? 

Since I started I have been facing new issues to solve on a daily basis which I really love.
This can be in all different fields, from design solutions, finding a balance between environmental/moral responsibilities and making a living, to something basic like paperwork.
And the most interesting part is that they all influence and add to each other. It's all about not giving up and continuing.

6. Where can our readers purchase your products?

The best is to send an email or message as my online stock isn’t based in Sri Lanka. But you can have a look at my online shop and Etsy. Otherwise at Prana Lounge in Colombo :)



Hi! My name is Minal Wickrematunge. I am an interior designer / visual artist based in Colombo Sri Lanka!

How did you get started?

My journey into the creative world was a long and winding one! I initially completed a degree in Business Management in Singapore and joined a corporate upon returning back home. After three years of working I realised I wanted to pursue a career in design because I realised I couldn’t stop doodling. I’d literally be doodling under the table at work, and then I realised maybe I should be doing something with this. I then enrolled in design college and just completed my degree in Interior Design at Academy of Design a year ago.

Who and what inspires you right now?

Its hard for me to pin point one person that inspires me. Instead I think its honest, often deep, conversations that inspire me to conceptualise something. But right now I’m inspired by strong female forces and energy. I’m inspired by anyone who embraces that femme energy within, irrespective of gender.

What was a challenging aspect to getting started?

I am my worst critic. I’m still so hard on myself and often its my own self censorship or second guessing that gets in my way. This is something that hindered my progress in the very beginning and even today.

Where can others find your work?

You can find me on instagram @minalnaomidesigns or check my website out at

A Gap Year At Café Kumbuk

If school was a tough 13 years and you thought you needed a bit of a break before you nosedived into another 4 years of college right away, you probably relate better to this. I had decided to take a gap year in advance, but when I finally graduated, I had no clue what I wanted to do during that year! My rationale behind taking a break was so that I could explore my strengths and weaknesses better; to take an informed decision of what I wanted to study in university. What started off as merely a part-time job at Café Kumbuk, which started on the day I graduated coincidentally, transformed into an experience that proffered so much more than I expected.

It definitely taught me a thing or two about timing!

If you were never a morning person, finally having finished school you badly want to sleep in till noon, but having a job (or rather keeping your job) means you have to make it to those 7:30am shifts religiously – even on weekends! In fact, this can help you become as close to being a morning person as your body would allow which becomes helpful when you have to wake up for early classes or just to revise before an exam. Timing also meant that you show up to the time you commit. This is understandably not always possible due to the precipitous traffic on the roads, but it is always best to keep your co-workers informed of any delays ahead of time.

Confidence is always a good thing to pick up.

Working in client servicing – that is being the first face that a customer sees when they walk into the establishment – meant that you had to be presentable and confident to engage and interact. This makes the customers’ experience better, but can be an introvert’s nightmare! Kumbuk encouraged us to go beyond the general niceties and engage with clients a tad more; this often meant that guests were comfortable enough to share stories, ask for directions, get a local’s tips on navigating the island etc. while I would improve on my communication. This is a very handy skill to pick up for when you venture out into an unknown country and have to mingle with people from so many different backgrounds. It makes your overall settling in experience a lot easier. Same goes for when you actually go to work after your degree!

You start to realise the importance of completing those chores that you kept avoiding!

Part of the job meant that you have to clean floors, do the dishes and dust off everyday things in the café – a job that you can conveniently avoided at home! Although this seems so trivial and might not be likeable, it goes a long way when you have to move out and live on your own. Prolonged engagement helps you identify when things need cleaning. It was almost intuitive when the shelves needed cleaning or the floor needed a quick sweep. Likewise, you know when your fridge back in college needs to be cleaned out. It also keeps you organised so that you don’t drown yourself in a clutter of physical things as if the studies weren’t tough enough!

The connections you make can go a long way…

The people you meet: your employers, your colleagues, your clients – they are all important connections you make. Technically known as networking, this can help in so many unimaginable ways! Having to work with people day in and day out means you build a lot of friendships and have a lifetime of memories. If you also follow a good work ethic and impress your employers, you will always have a glowing reference when you need one for that dream job!

These are just a few takeaways that my time at Kumbuk offered me, not to mention the extensive technical knowledge on the administration and function of a café that I learnt. Admittedly, I had some cool mentors who invested their time in me as well, but if you really want to make the most of a gap year, you can regardless of where you are! You really don’t realise the importance of all the knowledge and skill you gain until you get to college. When you eventually do, you’ll realise you’re a step ahead and that’s a good place to be.  

By Ashan Wijesinghe



Although fairly novel in Sri Lanka, communal dining or the concept of sharing a table at an establishment is currently trending in many parts of the world. A practice that was most common during the French Revolution has received a facelift lately with many budding eateries following suit; however, it has earned a fair amount of criticism. Café Kumbuk’s communal table has received both criticism and praise; but to us it is the absolute heart of the café.

When conceptualizing the café, we had a few main concerns – we didn’t just want to create a café, we wanted to come up with a space where people could vibe and connect with each other. This was a mammoth task considering the square footage we were working with and the one solution that was almost obvious was a communal table. Although hunting for a specimen to fit our milieu was a nightmare, we stumbled upon the best fit for us at an antique warehouse. We had to fill it in and do a little DIY before we could place it in the café, but it fits right into our cosy space, so it was worth it. This dining situation not only livens up the environment and gives Kumbuk its distinct look, but is also economical for a small business like ours. We have been able to do more covers in the same space with the presence of the large table. These same numbers would have been highly unlikely had we placed several smaller tables down the middle instead.

Although communal dining has been at the brunt of many smear campaigns by many fine dining aficionados, we were determined to build our community café around this very table. The communal table has been a hotspot for interactions since day one; friendships have transpired between our regulars seated around the table; travellers in passing have had many an exchange with their fellow patrons around the same table too. In a culture that focuses more on the food theatrics (stemming from Benihanas, that coincidentally also started the communal dining experience in the 80s) than the dining experience itself, the negativity regarding communal dining is at a minimal. It is especially true of cafes and casual dining spots. After all, I would rather share a table and experience the food than wait an unascertained amount of time for a table.

Although mostly positive, we do get a fair share of puzzled or disgruntled looks when guests have been seated at the long table. We’ve come to realize that more than being displeased at having to share a table, it is the intimidation of having another party staring at you while you silently chomp away that makes people shy away from it. As a rule of thumb, remember that regular dinner party etiquette applies – acknowledge each other with a simple Hello or a nod of your head, take cues from their body language and dive in! You might pick up a few nifty tips and tricks in exploring the island, food and music! Sometimes a communal table can also be a great workstation to set up laptop and get alone time together. With the foodie culture rapidly developing, people also enjoy meeting and getting to know others like themselves that enjoy fine foods, good coffee and a pleasing aesthetic. In these instances the communal tables have brought about many networking opportunities for such individuals too. However, if you’re still not phased by this new and modern gimmick that restaurants are using these days, give it a shot – unless you’ve experienced it, you might not be able to acknowledge it and give it the recognition it deserves. Luckily for you, Café Kumbuk is a chilled out spot to trial this out for the first time!

The Movement


We’ve heard and seen a lot of The Movement over the past few months and almost everyone we know seem to have gone there at least once. Give us a bit of background on The Movement.

Well we've all been really interested in working out since we left high school, and sports weren't really an option in university. We were quite unsuccessful at working out and never really made any substantial 'gains' for years because we didn't have the basics of eating and lifting down. Once we figured that out we made much more consistent progress, and wanted to pass that on. We always wanted to do something in this space and we started talking about it seriously last year. Thankfully it has worked out great so far!

Have you guys always had a penchant for working in the Fitness Industry? What inspired you to get into training?

Well I wouldn’t say we have. One of us is a barrister; the other is an engineer and one a mathematician, by degree at least. I don't think we seriously considered working in the fitness space until well after graduating from university, mainly because we didn't have the credibility that comes from training for 10 years and all the trial and error that goes with it. What inspired us was just that. How difficult it is to get this right: in terms of making body progress. We've all been there- too skinny, working out every day and not seeing any results. Once we realized it was a lifestyle that included eating right, sleeping well and lifting with correct form - our bodies changed. That inspired us to help other people shorten this learning curve; one that most people give up on before they see results. We also wanted to help people achieve bodies they felt comfortable with in Sri Lanka WITHOUT unhealthy crash dieting, which we see a lot of, and is terrible for your body and health. The key to this is communication. Telling people the why? of something as opposed to just to the what? and the how?  We feel like we're in a good place to express this to people.

What would you say is the mission of The Movement?

Results! Not just in appearance but strength and endurance too; in a group setting that is fun, motivating and sustainable. Like I said you may see results from crash dieting to a 1000 calories a day but that is not sustainable. You will falter eventually and feel bad about yourself. We want you to see slow results, but consistently. We want you to feel good while your body is changing, and not constantly feel depleted. Fitness and aesthetics is a lifelong process, it isn't just for 3 months. You are always improving and changing, so thinking about it in a narrow sense and burning out fast seems futile to us. We want to make this a part of your lifestyle.

You guys follow an alternating mix of cardio and weights training at The Movement, would you say that this is the most effective for a modern day busybody lifestyle?

For sure! We do tweak it for different body types and goals though. For example if someone is trying to gain weight they won't do as much cardio. But in general a combination of both is best for appearance and fitness levels. People sometime don't realise that lifting weights at a high intensity is more cardio than actual cardio like running. Weight training has so many minor and ignored benefits like keeping our skin tight, or improving circulation. Also working out in short intense bursts is obviously the most time effective way to train, and because our work outs always change, hopefully that stops boredom from setting in. I can’t stress this enough - you have to enjoy your work outs  to see tangible result! Same with your diet. 

What else would you say apart from exercise and working out regularly that contributes to getting fit?

Your diet of course! I'm sure you've read that it's more about diet than what you do in the gym. That is 100% true. We have the different struggle to most. We find it hard to gain weight, so we have to keep eating food even when we don't feel like it sometimes or are pressed for time. There is always that pressure to have your fifth meal, you know. In the same way if you are looking to lose weight and tone up you really have to strike the right macro nutrient balance between consuming enough protein to help your body repair, healthy fats; and carbs, and being in a healthy caloric deficit at the same time. To be honest, it’s much easier to eat healthy now in Colombo, great healthier restaurants coming up.

After a late night or a long day at work, it takes a lot of willpower to get myself to the gym, how do you stay motivated?

First have a coffee. Second, think about how much worse you'll feel knowing you didn’t work out. There is a crazy feeling of satisfaction knowing you made it to the gym even though you didn’t feel like it and killed your workout. We've all had that endorphin rush post work out, and you’ll end up having a really productive day. We all have a body goal. Keep that in mind and work towards it constantly. What would –your insert body goal name– do? They'd go work out!

Do you thing age is a limiting factor when it comes to getting in an intense and effective workout? Is The Movement geared towards a specific age group?

Age can be a limiting factor if you have injuries or certain conditions. But if you are a healthy older person there is no reason why you can’t do our work outs or any work outs. Obviously we will try and tailor our circuits a little better when there are older people in the class. There are certain exercises (mainly our more intense cardio) that may be unsuitable for older people, but you will be surprised how ridiculously fast some of them progress. One of our oldest clients couldn't do a squat when she first joined but now that she is much stronger and slimmer; she squats deeper, and breezes through the workout that 21 year olds can't complete. It's just a question of sticking with it and being safe and measured in your approach. Obviously don't go straight into doing 60 seconds of burpees on your first day, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try a couple. Once the pounds melt off you'll see how much better your knees and achy joints feel!

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who’s not happy with their body shape or size?

Make a change. Don't plan it. Don't procrastinate on it. Just do it today!! In this day and age of the internet every bit of motivation and information is at your finger tips. You have no excuse.  

In the wake of the Boxing Day Tsunami


Christmas was still fresh in the air and families were gathered together when news of an oil tanker about to topple off the coast of Colombo perked concerns nationwide. Not too long after this news, the waves of the Boxing Day Tsunami hit the nation’s coasts destroying absolutely everything it came into contact with. The Eastern and the Southern coasts were completely washed off while the North and West suffered considerable damage. The families in the east that had lost everything due to the prevalent civil conflict at the time lost what little they had for a second time when the ocean went against them. All in all, the Boxing Day Tsunami shook the entire world, killing nearly 225,000 people and displacing another 1.74million. The Humanitarian response reached an astonishing US$14billion pledged by superpowers and other countries alike to help restore the damaged nations – one of the few times, the world stood as one.

The devastation in Sri Lanka with a loss of 35,000+ lives and displacing 515,000 others was only second to Indonesia, closest to the epicenter of the earthquake. Nonetheless, it was a dire time and a somber welcome to the New Year ensued. Many organizations, governments and individuals then started the long and arduous process of rebuilding and rehabilitating the displaced. Among the many projects that followed, AMI Tsunami Children’s House Foundation was established in 2006, by Premela Wijemanne, a veteran Montessori teacher who owned and ran her own Montessori in Kansas, USA. With the idea of creating a safe space and providing quality education and care to the orphaned children, Amitsu has grown ever since.

Home to 22 children currently between the ages of 4 – 15, Amitsu sees to their education, healthcare and general wellbeing. Spread over a compound of 4 acres, the home has separate dormitory facilities, kitchen, matron quarters and ample space for the children to utilize. The compound also houses an in-house Montessori to educate the youngest, a sustainable vegetable patch, a jungle gym and a large playground for sports. Café Kumbuk has been supporting the Wijemanne family in this noble task from a very long time – even before the café’s inception. This year too, Café Kumbuk is organizing a fun evening for the kids in light of the Christmas season; a time for good food, enjoyable company and exciting presents.


We have made it our goal this year to provide these little children with Christmas presents to celebrate the season of giving and would like for our lovely patrons to be able to help in the process. We are looking for donors to take up the responsibility to sponsor a child’s gift – that means you can buy them anything you please and pack it with love. You can get more information from our flagship café, where you will also find that we’ve replaced the décor at the front shelves with photos of the Amitsu kids. Help us help these children celebrate the season while also commemorate 13 years since the waves of the Boxing Day Tsunami.

By Ashan Wijesinghe



If you visit the café regularly or follow us on social media, you’re probably aware that Kumbuk does an interesting range of delectable Homemade Products. With Christmas around the corner, the list has grown longer; and this year we took it upon ourselves to create enjoyable gift hampers made from the best of local produce and packed with lots of love and care. If you’ve been contemplating getting one for your loved ones or have been gifted one, here’s a little guide on how to use it.


The Kumbuk Seasonal Gift Hamper undoubtedly packs Christmas in a box; with cinnamon pancake mix, brandy butter, poultry rub, mulled wine mix and cranberry and sour cherry chutney – this couldn’t be more true. The poultry rub has all the necessary ingredients to flavor your Christmas Roast, and most importantly that bottle is enough for 2-3 turkeys so you might as well have Christmas Roast for the next few days too! The cranberry and sour cherry chutney too has a spot at your Christmas Roast Lunch, it is divine served over a well seasoned turkey. The mulled wine mix smells like Christmas in a bottle and is great to entertain your guests, day or night. Empty the contents into a saucepan add one bottle of wine, bring to a simmer, serve warm and enjoy in good company. The brandy butter – a strikingly British treat – is generally served over warm Christmas pudding, it melts and oozes into the pud to bring out the exquisite flavours with just a tinge of alcohol. If you’re feeling especially festive you could even set it on fire while it melts.

We love our Christmases so it might seem like we get carried away with all things Christmas in December, but we actually have a decent lot of other products still available all year round. We’ve got our granolas bottled up – all you gotta do is top it with fruits and milk of choice and dig in. We’ve also got pancake mixes that can be easily made at home and a range of flavoured salts and sugars. Many people ask us how to use these salts and sugars. In the case of the salts, it works perfectly as seasoning on meat (especially rosemary and garlic salt) or just add some of the salt into your everyday foods to make it interesting. Similarly use the sugars to sweeten everyday drinks like tea/coffee (lavender sugar adds an interesting flavor to black tea while hazelnut sugar accentuates the flavours of coffee).  Alternatively, sprinkle them over bakes and enjoy!


If you ask what my favourite among the lot is, it would be the Spiced Feta. It’s particularly useful around the household in flavouring salads; smash the feta over the salad and drizzle some of the infused olive oil to give your greens a bit more flavor. Top it off with some balsamic vinegar and your salads will be a lot more tempting. Alternatively you could make an interesting dip out of it to go with your chips or to go on top of toast. The superseeds mix is another list topper; it’s easy to make and can be breakfast or dessert! Just add warm water, mix it well, leave it over night and dig in when peckish.


In keeping with the ethos of Café Kumbuk, we strive to make most of our products with locally sourced produced, but are always fresh and with zero chemical additives – we even avoid refined sugars or use palm sugar substitutes. We also have a strict no plastics rule so most of our packaging is recyclable or reusable around the household. If you haven’t tried our products yet, swing by the café and grab some or place your order via email Celebrate this season of giving by gifting gourmet treats, or a carefully curated box of treats – we are taking Hamper orders until the 13th of Christmas so be sure to get yours in right away!

By Ashan Wijesinghe

What a Sloppy Joe!

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The Jackfruit Sloppy Joe introduced to the Kumbuk Kitchen menu earlier this year has won hearts far and wide with its delectable flavours and adaptability to almost any palate. The young jackfruit or polos as we know it got a facelift with this new dish that enjoyed a brief cameo at Café Kumbuk as well. An ideal meat substitute for vegan and vegetarian diets, Jackfruit is loaded with nutrients, minerals and vitamins; amma (mother) certainly approves!

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The jackfruit at its different stages is used for a variety of sweet and savoury dishes in Sri Lankan cuisine. Young jackfruit (polos) is prepared in thick, dark gravy accompanied by steamed rice, a good dhal curry and a greens mix. Ripe jackfruit (kos) is cooked in coconut cream to a thick consistency and enjoyed with dried fish and rice. The seeds of the ripe jackfruit are also toasted and tossed with coconut and jaggery to make a local version of protein balls that are enjoyed by the young and old alike. Slightly overripe jackfruit (varaka) has a sweet, tropical flavor that is enjoyed on its own as a snack or after a meal. With easy access to a fruit that is so versatile, we couldn’t resist giving it our own Kumbuk twist!

To make KK’s Sloppy Joe, young jackfruit is par boiled with local spices, seeded and pulled just like you would meat. The pulled jackfruit is then mixed in an Asian inspired BBQ sauce (a combination of tomato, apple juice, pineapple juice, onion and lemongrass) and topped with a generous serving of bell pepper ketchup and gooey cheese! We serve it on a vegan bun so all you gotta do is ask them to hold off on the cheese if you’re vegan.

Among its many health benefits, jackfruit is loaded with essential vitamins (A, C, E, K & B6), minerals (copper, manganese, magnesium), antioxidants and folic acid. This means that jackfruit has the ability to improve blood production, regulate blood glucose, reduce chances of cancer and improve bone health, eyesight and immunity in general. The seeds especially, have the ability to detoxify your system resulting in healthy skin and hair. Another reason jackfruit deserves a dietary medal of honour is because it is one of few fruits that has absolutely no saturated or trans fats (this however, does not mean that it does not have calories or sugar)! It is also super easy to grow in our climate, and thrives, given the right attention and care.

If you’re jackfruit crazed or looking for a good vegan burger, head on over to Kumbuk Kitchen on Reid Avenue (across the road from the Colombo Racecourse) to grab a good one! We’d encourage you to savour fresh Jackfruit as much as possible while you’re here; you won’t be allowed to take it home because fresh jackfruit is banned from airports!

By Ashan Wijesinghe