Food in Sri Lanka; 12x Eat in Sri Lanka-
Sri Lanka is one of those countries where taste is part of the unique traveler’s experience. Offering a mix of several Asian and authentic tastes, travelers are certain to find their selves a treat for their taste buds.
An abundance of spices, fresh veggies and coconut form the base of many dishes. Whereas chilies and pepper add to the spiciness of the food, the coconut adds a delicious sweet to it. And the coconut-milk-based curries even help to cool the overall dish down a bit. Creating a wonderful balance. Combine that with fresh rice, meat, and seafood and you might just feel like you’ve arrived at a little food-paradise. Extremely rich in flavors, food in Sri Lanka is just simply something that should not be missed! Use this blog post with twelve delicious foods in Sri Lanka, to find yourself the best tastes the country has to offer.
1. Street food in Sri Lanka; Kottu
The rhythmical sound of metal blades chopping on steel can be heard countrywide. And is a great indicator for one of the most famous street foods in Sri Lanka; Kottu. Offering a mix of chopped up roti, fried vegetables, spices and meat, cheese or seafood it’s one of the most accessible street foods you can find. Be careful though; as this is one of those dishes where ‘spicy’ equals mouth burning hot! So be sure to order according to your taste.
The first time I saw these little pancake-like dishes, I knew I would love them! Prepared in tiny, bowl-like pans, Sri Lankan Hoppers are probably some of the cutest foods out there. Made from fermented rice flour, coconut milk and coconut water they taste sweet alike. Besides the sweetness, I particularly like the thin and crispiness of the semi-fried batter. Also, looking at the process of making them is a fun activity on itself! Order either plain (milk) or with an egg cracked into it. And eat them while they’re warm!
3. Honey-Coconut Pancakes
Another delicious treat for sweet-mouths! Tasting them for the first time during breakfast in Nuwara Eliya, I couldn’t get enough of these delicious pancakes. Made with just flour and rice and sometimes a little saffron to add a yellowish color. But filled with the most delectable caramelized coconut and honey paste you can imagine! Eat them while they’re still warm for an exceptional experience.
4. Rice and Curry
Absolute one of the must-try dishes in Sri Lanka are the mouth-watering rice and curries. With different tastes to choose from, they are amongst my favorite food in Sri Lanka. Different small dishes such as vegetables, curry, pickles, and papad together with a large bowl of rice make for a tasteful, healthy meal. The most common rice and curry is by far Dahl curry. But don’t limit yourself to this curry only; also the pumpkin, chicken, fish, eggplant, and potato curries are worth a try. With spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, chilies, and cumin you’re sure in for a treat of your senses. And as rice and curry is sort of the national food in Sri Lanka be sure to find it in close to every restaurant on the street :)!
5. Fresh seafood!
Together with the rice and curries my favorite dining food in Sri Lanka; super fresh seafood, served everywhere along the coast. Choose any table at the beach and check the ‘catch of the day’ as the evening falls. Most beach restaurants create an atmospheric setting. Who wouldn’t love to enjoy a fresh plate of seafood by candlelight, with the sounds of the sea in the background?! From lobster to king prawns, to a variety of fresh fish. Have it either barbecued, grilled or pan-fried with lime for the best taste.
6. Coconut Sambol
Did I already mention that food in Sri Lanka often involves coconut? Well, the coconut sambol is an excellent example; freshly grated coconut, red onion, dried chili peppers, lime juice, and salt are mixed together into a delectable sweet, yet spicy relish. Often served with rice, string hoppers or flatbread, this exotic dish shouldn’t be missed when eating around Sri Lanka.
7. String Hoppers
These delicious thin noodles are completely made from rice flour. Pressed through a thin noodle press the thin strings are then steamed before they reach your plate. Served together with coconut sambol and a light, coconut milk based curry it’s again a sensational experience in terms of taste and texture. And while string hoppers sometimes replace the rice in main dishes, it’s more common to have them for breakfast. A bit heavy maybe, but certainly a good –and energetic- start of the day.
8. Mango Chutney
Think mango’s, but then turned into a flavor-bursting chutney! There are different varieties out there, but most contain at least ginger, mustard seeds, crushed cardamom, and chilies. Additionally, garlic, fennel seeds, cloves and/or turmeric can also be added. It’s then mixed with vinegar and salt to taste, and cooked until a finger-licking chutney. Served as a side dish for rice and curries or as a snack with crispy poppadum’s, this is also a food in Sri Lanka that shouldn’t be missed.
9. (Coconut) Roti
Another item on the breakfast table; coconut roti is a simple combination of flour, coconut, water, and salt, often enriched with vegetables, onion and chilies for extra taste. All ingredients mixed together, the dough is rolled into small balls, who eventually will be pressed and baked into flat, golden-brown pieces of bread. The key with coconut roti is to eat them while they’re hot! I ate them cold once, and that’s really a different –and disappointing- experience. So go get them while they’re hot. Eat them together with the coconut sambol or complementary with fresh curries.
If you’re done with the coconut by now don’t worry! Sri Lankan’s have proven their-selves to be quite creative with roti flatbreads. How about a sea-food roti? Or cheese, chicken and avocado roti? Or pineapple chocolate?! These flat-bread filled goodies make an excellent snack or lunch replacer.
10. Fresh fruits and fruit juices
Due to the warm, tropical climate, Sri Lanka is rich to a variety of colorful, fresh fruits. What’s a better way to take your vitamins then by eating super juicy gifts from nature?! With an abundance in banana’s, papaya, mangosteen, pineapple, watermelon, rambutan, avocados, starfruit and wood apple amongst others, it’s hard not to find your favorite tropical fruit. Eat like the Sri Lankans by sprinkling pineapple and mango with chili powder and pepper. And enhance your papaya by adding lime juice to it. Also try the avocado/milkshake for a healthy, protein-rich intake. Get your fruit at the markets or order them as fresh fruit juice or fruit plate alike.
11. Fried street food in Sri Lanka; vadai and samosas.
Not necessarily my all-time favorite snacks, but immensely popular under both locals and tourists are the fried and semi-fried street snacks. They come in different tastes, so there’s always something to choose! The vadai are Dhal based and have different shapes and textures. They often include onions red and/or green chilies, curry leaves, fennel seeds, and ginger. And are always deep-fried. The soft, doughnut-shaped Ulundu Vadai and the firmer, flat-ball shaped Masala Vadai are country-wide available. In addition, the flat, fresh prawn enriched Prawn Vadai are popular along the sea coast.
Samosas are another favorite to many. These savory triangle shaped goodies come in several sizes and are stuffed with different ingredients. While Amir couldn’t get enough of the chicken and beef samosa’s, I prefer veggies and the ones stuffed with potato specifically. As they’re so popular, expect to find them everywhere; from trains to bus stations to basically every street corner. With prices as low as 30 to 50 rupees they make an excellent, cheap, filling snack. Again, eat them warm for the best experience.
12. King Coconuts
Looking for something to quench your thirst?! Look no further as the Sri Lankan King Coconut is your best option! Not only do the green and yellow coconuts offer you the softest and freshest coconut water you can imagine, but they’re also full of vitamins and minerals. Making them one of the healthiest drinks to keep you hydrated. Can’t get enough of the coconut-goodness? After drinking, ask your vendor to cut open the coconut and eat some of the white, fleshy, rich in antioxidant meat.
What is your favorite dish in Sri Lanka? Or do you feel something is missing?! Share your thoughts through the comment section below :)!
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