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Updated by Joanna James on May 02, 2024
Headline for 6 Best Food dishes to try out in Sri Lanka - tantalise your taste buds with these local dishes!
Joanna James Joanna James
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6 Best Food dishes to try out in Sri Lanka - tantalise your taste buds with these local dishes!

Any traveller to Sri Lanka will fall instantly in love with the delicious local cuisine. From delicately spiced and savoury, to sweet desserts, here are few you should not miss.



Every Sri Lankan's favourite street food has to be Kottu, and is easily found on almost every corner of the city. Watch as expert kottu makers spread generous amounts of roti, carrots, leeks, onions and eggs on a hot griddle and then proceed to madly chop away at it with 2 large chopping knives, the rhythmical clanging alerting everyone around that fresh kottu is soon to be had. A spicy gravy is added towards the end, and hungry customers can choose to add a choice of meat or even cheese to their kottu.


Milk Rice (Kiribath)

A traditional meal usually made to mark a special occasion, milk rice is made by boiling short grained rice with fresh coconut cream and milk, until it is infused with the delicate coconut flavour. It can be served with either a number of savoury curries and spicy sambals, or eaten with a piece of sweet jaggery or plantain. It is often mistaken for a firm rice pudding at first glance by foreigners, but it is not a dessert, nor is it sweet since no sugars are added.



A classic favourite, lamprais is a Dutch influenced delicacy, consisting of rice boiled in a rich stock, topped with a meat or fish cutlet, a meat curry, fried ash plantains, a fried aubergine curry, and a boiled egg. All of this is then wrapped tightly in a steamed banana leaf and baked in an oven until the rice is bursting with the combined flavours and aromas. The traditional lamprais was served with a mixed-meat mixture of beef, chicken and pork, but modern recipes stick to one meat of choice in order to cater to more palettes.


Hoppers (appa)

Another street food favourite, hoppers are made from a fermented rice flour and coconut milk batter, which is thinly spread in a bowl shaped pan and cooked until the centre is soft and spongy and the edges crisp. Other versions include eggs hoppers , where a egg is cracked into the centre during the cooking process, and milk hoppers which are sweeter. The plain hopper can be eaten at any time of the day - with an egg and spicy sambals for breakfast, accompanied with aromatic curries for lunch, or drizzled with treacle for a simple but delicious dessert. Hoppers have grown in popularity both at home and abroad in recent years, and have even been featured in prominent editorials like Cinnamon Magazine, for example, a travel & lifestyle magazine.


Polos (Jackfruit) Curry

A vegetarian curry prepared from green jackfruit, it is often consumed in place of meat as the texture of the cooked polos could easily pass as tender beef. The young jackfruit is sliced into big chunks and simmered with a combination of spices, coconut milk and curry leaves, for up to 8 hours. The end result is a rich and flavourful curry that can be eaten with rice or bread.



Sri Lankans love their dessert, and Watalappan is a firm favourite among the population. A traditional dish which ordinates from the Sri Lankan Malay community, it is often eaten during festive occasions and weddings; though you can find it readily available in most restaurants as well. Similar to custard in texture, Watalappan is made from coconut milk and jaggery (palm sugar) infused with spices like cardamom, cinnamon and cloves, and then either baked or steamed. The silky custard is then topped with crunchy cashews, and can be eaten warm or cold.

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