Sri Lanka, named Asia’s Leading Destination in 2017, also known as the wonder of Asia, harbours many great features that make it a popular tourist destination. A great part of this is the amazing local Sri Lankan dishes and cuisine!
Sri Lankan cuisine has a rich history. Being a spice producer and trading port over several centuries, it draws influence from the Indian, Indonesian, and Dutch. From this blend of cultures, you’ll find a mix of unique pastries, dishes, desserts, and snacks!
Sri Lanka has a wide variety of dishes to choose from, and depending on how much time you’re spending here, you probably won’t get to try them all. But, with this short list, you should be able to sample some of the more popular local Sri Lankan dishes. Read about them and try them out!
Rice and curry
An obvious one, but a great one! Curry in Sri Lanka draws influence especially from Indian cuisine. You’ll find a lot of similarity in it if you’ve been to India!
Curry in Sri Lanka can be made with chicken, spicy fish, or mutton, but also with potato, lentil, or fruit for you vegetarians out there! It goes without saying that it is usually served with rice, and it’s also served with different sides. Depending on where you are, you’ll get pickled vegetables, sambol, and/or chutney with it.
Coconut sambol is a delicious side dish here: shredded coconut mixed with chillies, lime juice, and dried fish to make a paste. It is an especially sweet coconut kick to go along with the classic curry you may have experienced in your other travels!
Prices vary depending on where you’re at and what type you order, but expect to pay as low as 120 LKR upwards to 400-500 LKR.
Though it seems a little typical, make sure you don’t skip out on curry here – in fact it might be a little hard to, as it’s as common as it is delicious!
Kottu is a native dish to Sri Lanka and you absolutely can’t miss out on it. It allegedly originated in the city of Batticaloa in the Eastern Province. Batticaloa is a former capital city of Sri Lanka, so kottu was able to spread to the rest of the country and is a staple today.
It is basically cut up roti bread which is then stir fried with vegetables. Lots of the time you’ll have the option to add in meat, egg, or cheese. This dish is easily found all around Sri Lanka, and is super tasty, but just be warned that it’s quite filling– you may need to sit down for a bit after!
Kottu will cost anywhere from 200-500 LKR, but expect to pay 300 in most tourist areas.
Hoppers, or appam, are pan fried pancakes of sorts, also a staple of Sri Lankan cuisine. It can be prepared in both sweet and savoury fashions, so the choice will be up to you.
Hoppers are made of fermented batter of rice flour and coconut milk with spices. Savoury varieties include egg hoppers, milk hoppers and string hoppers. They’re usually served with a mixture of red onion and spices called lunu miris. Sweeter kinds include vandu appa and pani appa. They can be served with syrup or honey!
Whether you’d like to try these as a dessert or as a part of your meal, know that these can greatly vary in price. Plain hoppers can cost as low as 10 LKR, but depending once again on the type you’d like, you can pay over 100 LKR for one!
Note that usually you’ll eat them as an appetizer or snack. Otherwise make sure to get a few – they won’t fill you up on their own.
Kiribath is a unique dish that is usually eaten for breakfast, but it’s also a holiday food. Commonly found on birthday’s and religious festivals, this dish, which means “milk rice” in Tamil, is a wonderful part of Sri Lankan cuisine.
Kiribath is made in a process in which rice is cooked in salted coconut milk. When the rice becomes a soft, porridge-like consistency, it’s ready! It is also served with lunu miris. During certain religious holidays, it is served in a sweeter way, and is accompanied by various Sri Lankan sweets.
You may be able to order it in many different ways. When you are not here during a religious holiday or other special occasion, order it for breakfast and see what you think! Expect to pay around 300-400 LKR for this delicacy if you want it with meat, on its own you could get it for as low as 200 LKR.
This is just a small taste of Sri Lankan dishes. For a more in-depth guide to local food, CNN has an excellent article you can check out here: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/sri-lanka-must-try-food/index.html
As you travel around, try out these dishes in different places and see how Sri Lankan dishes differ around the country. Here at The Rockstel in Unawatuna, the kitchen has all of these dishes available, so make sure you come by and check us out!
Which of these dishes sounds the best to you? If you’ve already tried, what’s your favourite? Share this post with your friends and have a fantastic food tour through Sri Lanka!
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