Ultimate Food Guide to Sri Lanka
What are the most popular food and drinks to try when you travel to Sri Lanka?
Sri Lankan food culture has been shaped by its history and influences from neighbouring countries. It is mainly influenced by Indian (especially Southern Indian), Indonesian and Dutch cuisines. This is a country were rice, coconut and spices are the staples.
The idea of curry for breakfast may take a couple of days to warm to, but once you embrace it you may find it tricky going back to jam on toast or soggy cornflakes. Sri Lankan curries vary greatly depending on where you are, but expect to see chicken and fish curries, a soupy mix of coconut and potato, hard-boiled eggs in a mild coconut sauce, thick orange dahl, and an array of spicy, coconutty sambals. The most famous and common curries are fish ambul thiyal (sour fish curry), Parippu (dhal - red lentil curry) and Polos (green jackfruit curry). Load up your plate or your hopper with different curries, part meat, part vegetable and part cold salad dishes – and enjoy.
Kiribath (Milk Rice)
One of the tastiest breakfast dishes in Sri Lanka is milk rice. A bit like a savoury rice pudding, kiribath is made by boiling white or brown kakulu rice (a type of Sri Lankan rice) with water and coconut milk until it becomes glutinous and sticky. It’s pressed into a tray and cooled, then sliced into squares and served with a chilli and onion sambol, called Lunu Miris. Want to enjoy it the way the locals do? We recommends trying it with spicy chicken or fish curry
When it comes to Sri Lankan must eats, hoppers are at the top of the list for almost all food-loving travellers. A batter of rice flour and coconut milk is poured into a bowl-shaped hopper pan, which allows a crispy thin outer layer and a slightly thicker centre. Now comes the fun yum part: loading up your hopper with accompaniments. Have it with an egg, curry and sambol, or with treacle and banana for a sweet treat.
Indiappa (String Hoppers)
Another (very yummy) breakfast staple is string hoppers. A soft dough is made by mixing together rice flour and water, which is placed into a string hopper press and squeezed onto mats to make the noodle-like string hoppers. The long stringy noodles are steamed until voila, you’ve got a small mound of string hoppers. You can eat them with a variety of curries – a few of our favourites include spicy chicken or fish, young jackfruit curry (polos curry), and potato curry. Locals usually mix in some Pol Sambol, a traditional Sri Lankan condiment made with freshly grated coconut, chilli and red onion, and it’s DELICIOUS.
Pani Pol (Sri Lankan Pancakes)
You’ve probably gathered by now that most Sri Lankan breakfasts pack a pretty spicy little punch, but this one’s perfect for the sweet-toothed traveller. A batter made from wheat flour, coconut milk, egg and turmeric is poured onto a hot pan and topped with fresh grated coconut, jaggery (a type of cane sugar) and spices. The pancake is then rolled into a neat little parcel, and is best enjoyed with a hot cup of tea.
Lamprais was a significant dish influenced from the Dutch colonial period. It consists of the following items wrapped and baked in banana leaves. Yellow Rice, Lampara curry with a mix of beef, pork & lamb, Seeni Sambol, cutlet, fried Ash Plantain curry, Wambatu Moju, Fried Boiled Egg.
Kottu is a spicy stir-fry of chopped flatbread (shredded roti) with meat, vegetable and lots of aromatic spices. It is one of the most popular street food in Sri Lanka.
Pol Sambol is one of the most popular Sri Lankan side dish made of fresh coconut grated with red onions, dried whole chillies, Maldive fish, lime juice, and salt. Pol Sambol is served as accompaniments to rice, roti and other gravies.
Wambatu moju (eggplant/ brinjals pickle)
The Wambatu moju is usually serve with curry and rice. The deep fried eggplant is usually caramelised with sugar, vinegar, red onions, chillies and spices.
Known as oil cake is a deep-fried Sri Lankan Sweet made from rice flours and sugar palm treacle. The small bump at top gives the name "konda" (tied hair) It is traditionally consumed during the celebrations of Shinhala New Year.
Wattalapan means Cardamom Spiced Coconut Custard
Kalu Dodol is made of jaggery, rice flour and coconut milk. Kalau Dodol is a dessert that is widely popular and introduced to Sri Lanka by Malay migrants.
Aluwa is made from rice flour, sugar, milk, butter and spices (cardamom, cloves) It's mostly served on the new year occasion.
Sri Lankan usually enjoy a cup of Ceylon Tea with milk and sugar or condensed milk.
King Coconut Water
In Sri Lanka, the King Coconut is a bright-orange coconut which is indigenous to Sri Lanka. The juices inside the coconut are very sweet and its meats are usually a bit more transparent than the other variety of coconut. It's a national favourite drink.
Faluda is traditionally made with rose syrup, vermicelli, sweet basil seeds with milk. It is very popular with locals.
Arrack is the local liqueur made of unopened flowers of coconut palm that produce nectar called toddy. Fermented toddy is distilled and aged in barrels before it is ready to be consumed.
Divul (Wood Apple) Kiri Drink
Wood Apple is a popular fruit in Sri Lanka and is usually consumed with coconut milk, honey and a hint of salt which is called Divul Kiri in Sri Lanka. Wood Apple has a pungency of blue cheese and raisins, and its taste is a bit acidic. The unique taste of the fruit might be a food adventure for you to try.
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