Kekulu (sometimes spelt ‘Kakulu’) is the same grain as Nadu, but in contrast to Nadu Haal it’s never preboiled (nor parboiled) prior to the milling process. To put it in other words: Botanically, Kekulu and Nadu do not differ at all, paddy fields for growing Kekulu Haal and Nadu Haal are one and the same. Only after harvesting, Kekula and Nadu differ due to diverse methods of processing.
Brown Kekulu in particular – neither preboiled nor milled – is considered to be one of the most nutritious rice varieties in Sri Lanka. But usually Kekulu is not raw but peeled. Most Kekulu is white or red rice. This may come as a surprise to some readers, because many guidebooks confuse Kekulu Rice with Brown Rice. The reason for this common mistake may be a rather simple one: ‘kaekulu’ translates to ‘rough’ or ‘raw’. However, concerning rice labels this Sinhala term actually refers to the lack of preboiling, not to a lack of milling! To put it in another way: Kekulu is commonly polished or even double-polished.
In general, Kekulu rice plays an important role in Sri Lanka’s diet. Remarkably, White and Red Kekulu varieties together amount to more than 40% of the rice purchased in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s common Kekulu Haal has a neutral flavour. Kekulu can also be used for Kiribath, the island’s traditional rice pudding, which consists of sweetened rice boiled in coconut milk.
Particularly Rathu Kekulu Haal (red not-preboiled rice) is very popular among rural people in the south and in the up-country.