Sri Lankan food is one the most interesting cuisines in SouthEast, and I thoroughly enjoyed every meal during my 10-day trip. The food in Sri Lanka is similar to it’s close neighbor, India- but differs in many unique ways. More specifically, the locally grown spices in Sri Lanka sets it apart from other SouthEast countries. They have ‘chilli paste’ that is served on the side of most dishes, which is made of chilli pepper flakes, garlic, and soy sauce. Additionally, you can get many dishes “deviled,” which means that they will mix it with spices and onions. Not surprisingly, you’ll find many Sri Lankan dishes to be very spicy.
Rice and curry is eaten daily, as well as many fresh grown tropical fruits (mango smoothies are da bomb!) Given that Sri Lanka is a tropical island, coconuts and fish are two of the most influential components of their food. Fish is made into curries and coconut is included in nearly all dishes in one way or another. As long as you avoid the tourist trap restaurants, then each meal will be extremely inexpensive. I never spent more than 1000 Rupees ($7USD) on any meal, including a 5-course meal with a beer. Without further adieu, here is my list of the top 6 foods to try in Sri Lanka:
Roti: Roti is a delicious baked flatbread made from wholemeal flour. It originated in India and it’s commonly found in nearby countries such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. The best part about Roti is that no two pieces taste the same! Every household/restaurant has their own recipe, to go along with the variety of meats and vegetables that they cook inside the bread. You can either order it plain (jst the flatbread), or you can get it stuffed with vegetables and eat it like a sandwich. Roti’s most notable characteristic is that it is unleavened- meaning that the baked dough has created a foaming texture when it is cooked. My favorite is vegetable Roti dipped in spicy sauce. You will find many street vendors selling Roti around Sri Lanka. It is VERY cheap (usually less than $1USD) and delicious, so you’ve gotta try it!
Fish Curry: Sri Lanka is specifically famous for it’s fish curry. Curry, as I am sure you all know, is an Asian dish that incorporates spices/herbs with fresh (or dried) chillies. It is usually prepared as a liquid sauce, that you mix with rice and meat/seafood. If you order fish curry, you’ll get a huge pile of mixed rice with the curry sauce and fish pieces on top. Sometimes, they will even put the fish head in there as a staple (you obviously don’t have to eat it). This dish will cost you no more than 120 Rupees (less than $1USD). Finger-lickin’ good!
Dhal Curry: Dhal Curry is a local favorite, and is one of the most popular consumed dishes in Sri Lanka. Dhal is a preparation of dried peas and beans, which have been stripped from their shells and split into tiny pieces. Mix this together with Sri Lanka’s finest coconut milk and other curry spices, and you’ve got Dhal Curry. This was my favorite curry dish that I’ve ever tasted. You can think of it as a delicious gravy sauce that you pour over your rice. I want some for dinner right now.
Egg Kottu: Kottu is a very popular Sri Lankan street food, and it is one of the cheapest, yet filling meals that you will find. It consists of shredded pieces of roti, mixed together in a stir-fri with lots of spices and other vegetables/spices. Egg Kottu was my favorite type, but you can also get other variations, such as vegetable kottu, cheese kottu and beef/chicken kottu. This dish is most commonly eaten for dinner, and I am warning you that it is very filling. If you want to go above and beyond, then get curry on the side to mix with it!
Sri Lankan Omelet: Every morning, I had a traditional Sri Lankan omelet. Basically, a Sri Lankan is like a normal ‘Western’ omelet with a spicy kick. They add lots of peppers (those spicy chili peppers that I was talking about), curry leaves and green/red chillie. If you are a spicy foods lover like I am, then you will be in heaven when you are eating this for breakfast. Moreover, you can even dip the omelet in a spicy curry sauce for some more insanely delicious flavor.
Hoppers: Hoppers are a very common dish that is native to Sri Lanka. They are made of a fermented batter of rice flour, coconut milk, yeast and the ever-so-famous red chili peppers. The batter is cooked extra long, so the final product looks like a bowl-shaped thin pancake. Hoppers can come in many different forms, such as plain hoppers, egg hoppers, milk hoppers and sting hoppers. It’s a very popular breakfast food, but also eaten for lunch or dinner. Get your hands on some of these!
I hope you enjoy the amazingness that Sri Lanka has to offer 🙂