Hub of the spice, rice and tea trade
Spice and rice
The first thing you notice is the smell of spices. It’s that not-entirely-unpleasant-if-potentially-addictive mix of smoke, dust and spice that will stay with you as a memory of place. Want some premium dates, Sri Lankan coffee, tea? This is also your chance to try different types of rice or teas with the selection arrayed in little bowls. And don’t leave without stocking up on Sri Lankas’s most iconic spice: cinnamon.
Old Moor Street is the hub of the area’s spice, rice and commodity trade. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Over 300 million rupees of business takes place here daily. The shops may look unassuming but it is a highly sophisticated trading network. “Everything in Pettah operates on trust. It may look like chaos but it has an ingrained and intangible system that holds it all together. The system works like a well-oiled machine. Everything is so close, everyone knows each other.” says Sellakumar Kandasamy, a commodity trader. “I find it amazing that even today, the Natamis transport very valuable goods from place to place, just relying on someone’s word.”
Stop for a tea and a snack like a coconut pancake at Latheef’s little roadside table which has been doing a brisk business for over 30 years. It is located about 150 meters into Old Moor street next to Ambal Lodge.