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10 Foods to Try in Sri Lanka

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10 Foods to Try in Sri Lanka

When it comes to food, Sri Lankan cuisine packs a punch. As well as boasting a huge variety of curries served with rice, Sri Lanka also has a whole host of other delights that are well worth sampling. Sri Lanka really is a culinary delight, with a whole host of fresh local ingredients that have been skilfully utilised to create a wide variety of original dishes. Whether you are on a tour, travelling independently or relaxing on an all-inclusive Sri Lanka holiday, you are certain to get the opportunity to try an array of the country’s fabulous local food. Here are 10 foods(and drinks) that you should look out for…

1. Kottu Roti

The ultimate Sri Lankan street food, Kottu Roti is a stir-fry that is essentially made from leftovers but is utterly delicious. Made from pieces of roti (thin bread), shredded vegetables, chunks of meat and various spices, the dish is cooked on a flat-iron skillet and is often served in the evening using remaining ingredients from the day. 

2. Egg Hoppers

Hoppers are essentially a thin pancake with crispy edges, made from rice flour, coconut milk and coconut water. Hoppers with a fried egg in the centre are a popular breakfast dish, but can also be ordered or served at any mealtime. Traditional accompaniments include pol sambal (a spicy coconut garnish), dhal (lentils), curry, and even fresh fruit.

3. Fish Curry

With its vast coastline and abundant beach resorts, Sri Lanka is renowned for fantastically fresh seafood, and sampling one of the local fish curries is a must during any Sri Lanka trip. Vegetarians can instead opt for a delicious jackfruit curry, which also packs a punch in the tastebud department. And of course, there are a whole host of different curries to try in Sri Lanka, ranging from traditional chicken curries to cashew curries, pineapple, lotus root curries and more.

4. Candied Aubergine

Often served as a side dish with an array of Sri Lankan curries, this is a must-try for any aubergine fan. Sliced and deep-fried; ripe aubergines are caramelised and cooked for hours in oil, salt, sugar and soy sauce. The result is a sweet, savoury and sour sauce that goes perfectly with curries.

5. Ceylon Milk Tea

As Sri Lanka is one of the leading producers of teas in the world, no Sri Lanka holiday would be complete without a cup of the local brew. Originating in the central highlands of Sri Lanka, Ceylon tea is the drink of the day, however, you’ll also find various types of local tea throughout the country. 

6. Wood Apple Juice

A must-try for the adventurous, this popular Sri Lankan fruit has a pungent smell, not dissimilar to blue cheese. However, when blended with sugar and blended into a juice, it has a uniquely sweet and sour flavour. Give it a try - you may love it as much as the locals do!  

7. Lamprais

Introduced by Sri Lanka’s Dutch Burgher population, this tasty dish consists of two curries (often with a large variety of protein such as beef, pork and chicken with various sides such as fried plantain, aubergine a hard-boiled egg, chilli paste and rice that has been cooked in meat stock. All of this is wrapped in banana leaves and baked in an oven, creating a delicious dish with a huge variety of flavours.

8. Vegetable Rotis

Resembling samosas, these triangular shaped snacks are skillet-fried rather than deep-fried and filled with spicy vegetables. A popular street food, you can also find square and cylinder-shaped versions; and the rotis are sometimes filled with egg and fish. 

9. Watalappam

This classic Sri Lankan dessert is a coconut custard pudding made of condensed milk, cashew nuts, eggs, and various spices such as cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and vanilla. The dessert is also sweetened with ‘kitul jaggery’, which is essentially hardened sugar that comes from a specific type of Sri Lankan palm tree. Often served to celebrate the end of Ramadan, you’ll find this dessert in local supermarkets and a selection of restaurants in the country’s major cities. 

10. Pol Sambol

With its abundant coconut trees, this side dish pays a fitting tribute to Sri Lanka, and is a delish blend of finely grated coconut, red onions, dried chillies, lime juice, salt and Maldive fish. Served as an accompaniment to a whole host of dishes, visitors are certain to sample this spicy garnish at some point during their holiday in Sri Lanka. If you’re a coconut fan and love spicy food, Pol Sambol may just become your favourite garnish ever. 

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