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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Top 10 Sri Lankan Dishes - The Spices and Flavours of Sri Lanka
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Top 10 Sri Lankan Dishes - The Spices and Flavours of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan cuisine is the epitome of food rich in textures and spiciness. Here are 10 dishes that you must savour in this paradise island.


Rice and Curry

The staple food of the island and is a well-balanced and nutritious plate. The most common and quintessential ones are the dhal curry- an absolute local favourite; potato curry, and eggplant curry, the most popular version being the "batu moju" which is a type of pickled eggplant. You also usually get a green leafy mix usually termed as "mallum". The best part is these are all vegan-friendly. Apart from these dishes, the non-vegetarian options are the chicken curry; fish curry, do try the "ambul thiyaal" which is a dish that is also a local way of preserving the fish.



This is essentially flatbread that is rhythmically chopped finely on a big hot plate with a pair of blunt blades by a skilled chef. It is mixed with vegetables, spices, the meat of your own choice and sometimes even cheese. Most kottu joints stay open way past midnight, making it the go-to food after a hard night of partying.



The Sri Lankan pancake, that is shaped like a bowl with crispy edges and a thick centre is a light and versatile food. The centre can either be left plain or topped with either an egg coconut milk or palm treacle. The hopper itself isn't spicy at all. However, it is usually paired with "lunu miris"; a chutney that is made with onions and a copious amount of chilli flakes.


Pol Pani Pancakes

This dish could make an appearance any time of the day; breakfast, as a dessert after any meals or simply as a snack during tea time. It is made of a thin pancake batter, which is topped with a combination of caramelised coconut and treacle, and then rolled.


Hot Butter Cuttlefish

Sri Lanka, being an island makes it a great destination to enjoy some delicious fresh seafood. The cuttlefish is caught fresh, thinly sliced in a unique way, coated in batter and fried in butter. It is a mildly-spicy dish and is usually best enjoyed with some friend rice, on its own or as an accompaniment with liquor; the latter being the most common. The southern coast is very popular for their seafood dishes. In Kalutara, restaurants are found in plenty and Anantara Kalutara Resort is known for its all-day themed buffets with an array of seafood dishes.


Devilled Dishes

Originally from China, it is very common in Sri Lanka and found in almost all restaurants. It contains a fried component of the main dish-chicken, fish, mushroom etc, which is mixed with a lot of onions, capsicum, tomatoes and pepper. Very spicy but very delicious!


Isso Wade

"Isso" means prawns and "wade" is a spicy lentil cake. Thus, an isso wade is basically a wade topped with fried prawns. This is a popular street food and is usually found in any street stalls or food festivals. Galle Face Green is one place where you will find these snacks in abundance.

Tip: Go before dusk to enjoy view the sunset from the city's central.


Pol Roti

"Pol" in Sinhala means coconut. So, this is essentially a roti (flatbread) to which grated coconut is added. It is best paired up with "lunu miris", a dip made of chopped onions and lots of chilli flakes or pol sambol- another chutney of sorts made with coconut.


Buffalo Curd and Palm Treacle

A dessert that is the best way to wrap up a quintessential Sri Lankan meal or start your day with; curd and fruits instead of milk and cereal. They are usually sold in clay pots which further helps enhance the flavours of the curd.


Vegetable Roti

Usually shaped like a triangle, the roti is filled with a vegetable curry mostly consisting of potatoes and spices, which is then folded into a triangle and lightly fried in a skillet. Easily found in any bakeries or street vendors. Remember, the buns that come in a triangle shape, however, is filled with fish curry!