What to eat in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka cuisine features a delicate combination of rice, many spices, and fresh ingredients. As the country has multiple ethnicities and cultures, you can find dishes with regional flavors.
Here are our favorite Sri Lankan food dishes you should try on your trip.
Rice and curry
Rice and curry is the most popular dish on the island, and you can find them on restaurant menus across Sri Lanka.
Types of rice vary from long-grained Basmathi to white Samba rice and the nutty red Kakuluhaal. The steaming hot rice comes with multiple side dishes that will set your taste buds tingling.
There are usually at least five different curries. One is fish or meat (commonly chicken), and the others are vegetable curries. The common ones are pineapple, sweet potato, green beans, baby jackfruit, and aubergine.
The curry gravy consists of coconut milk, herbs, and species such as cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cardamom, saffron, curry leaves, garlic, green chilies, and tamarind paste.
Rice and curry dish is usually served with Coconut sambol (a combination of coconut, chili, lime juice, salt, and Maldive fish), Mallung (chopped veggies with coconut), and fried papadams. You’ll also get a bowl of dhal as well.
You can’t ever visit Sri Lanka and leave without trying Kottu. Kottu is a delicious Sri Lankan food made of Gothamba roti, vegetables, eggs, meat, and aromatic spices.
The sound of Kottu is something you’ll experience on your trip to Sri Lanka.
Strolling along a busy street in Colombo or any part of the country, you’ll hear the sound of street vendors making kottu from a far distance.
The chef skillfully chops roti with two metal blades, creating a very loud but full of characteristics.
Sri Lankans love their chili, and Devilled chicken is a perfect presentation.
The chicken is nicely cut into pieces, well marinated, and fried into golden. The chef will stir-fry it with devilishly hot sauce, chili, and vegetables.
Pol Roti (Coconut roti) is a popular flatbread made of flour, freshly grated coconut, and oil. Some people also add red onions, green chilies, and curry leaves.
For breakfast, we usually eat Pol roti with Dahl curry and a little butter spreading on top. Chilli sambol (Indian chill paste) and spicy curry are fabulous additions.
In addition to coconut roti, Banana roti is also a delicious choice for breakfast. Unlike coconut roti, banana roti is more likely a pancake with a thin and crispy layer.
The pancake is served with condensed milk and banana, and the favors are surely delightful.
Besides bananas, you can also choose toppings such as avocadoes or savory fillings.
Hoppers are delicious Sri Lankan pancakes that you should try at least once. They are made of fermented rice flour and have bowl-shaped or funnel-shaped.
Spicy curries and onion sambol are excellent companions for this dish.
Other variations include egg hoppers, honey hoppers, milk hoppers, and vegetable hoppers. The additional ingredients are added in the middle of the pancake when being cooked, creating a flavorful experience.
String hoppers are pretty similar to rice noodles and are usually served in breakfasts or dinners. They are made with roasted rice flour (white or red), warm water, and salt.
People usually eat string hoppers with curries or Sambol. A common version of string hoppers is coconut string hoppers, an ideal breakfast snack.
Seafood also plays an important part in Sri Lanka cuisine, and Jaffna crab is the most famous one.
Jaffna Crab Curry is a yummy seafood dish in Northern Sri Lanka, prepared with freshly caught mud crabs. The main ingredients for the sauce include curry powder, grated coconut, coconut milk, and moringa leaves.
You can try this dish with rice, salad, and kale stir fry.
Grilled fish and prawns
Sri Lanka is blessed with a beautiful coastline, so don’t forget to try grilled fish and prawns if you’re visiting the beaches.
Our favorites are grilled tiger prawns and grilled fish with lemon butter sauce. The dishes are usually served with salad, fried rice, and french fries. They are an excellent break from the curries and traditional Sri Lankan food.
Milk rice is a traditional Sri Lankan food for breakfast. It’s made of rice, coconut milk, salt, and cinnamon.
It’s served with fruits, chili sambol, spicy fish, or chicken curry. We tried it with spicy fish, and it was delicious.
Short eats are the best friends for travelers in Sri Lanka. These savory and spicy baked snacks are great for road trips and tea times.
Short eats include cutlets, stuffed pastries, patties, buns, Chinese rolls, roti, and samosas. The fillings are usually mashed potatoes accompanied by egg, fish, chicken, or vegetables.
Known as Meekiri, buffalo curd is a tasty dessert choice. It’s traditionally made from buffalo milk, creating a thick and creamy taste. It tastes pretty like yogurt and is usually served with honey.
Kokis is delicious deep-fried Srilanakan food made from coconut milk and rice flour. The heated mold is dipped into the batter and placed again into the oil, creating beautiful-shaped Kokis.
Pittu is a traditional Sri Lankan dish made with rice flour and coconut.
The rice is steamed in a cylindrical mold for a few minutes and served with a variety of sweet and savory side dishes.
You can enjoy Pittu with warm coconut milk, spicy meat, Lunumiris (Onion and chili sambal), or fish curries.
Visiting Sri Lanka without relaxing with afternoon tea is a huge miss.
You can enjoy afternoon tea at most high-end hotels or tea plantations around the country. You can also hop by a bakery and order some.