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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 13, 2023
Headline for 05 Must Try Dishes in Sri Lanka – Exotic Island Flavours
Joanna James Joanna James
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05 Must Try Dishes in Sri Lanka – Exotic Island Flavours

Salt in your hair and exquisite flavours on your palate, that's what a holiday in Sri Lanka is made up of. And when you are not indulging yourself at the beach, here are some local dishes you should not leave without tasting.


Fish ambulthiyal

Being an island Sri Lanka is well loved for its selection of seafood, but apart from the usual suspects, fish ambulthiyal is a very traditional dish that's very much a part of local culture. A favourite in rural villages and special occasions amongst city folk, fish ambulthiyal will be served at most restaurants in Kalutara. Made from red fish, such as tuna, this is a dry curry, where the fish is cooked to a deep brown colour and has a slightly peppery and sour flavour. If you are enjoying the sun, sand and sea at places like AVANI Kalutara Resort, do check out this dish which is sure to be a part of the local buffet spread.


Kottu aka kottu roti

A very popular fast food, kottu roti is identified by sound rather than smell; why you may wonder, well you've got to watch a kottu roti being turned out to understand. Made from roti, vegetables and your choice of beef, chicken, fish, egg or just vegetarian, the dish is made by chopping up all ingredients into shreds; this is done, quite deftly, with the aid of two metal cleaver like utensils which the professional 'kottu roti makers' do to an almost melodious rhythm. Served at almost all night-kades or street food kiosks, this is favourite fast food at dinner time.


Kukul mas curry

Kukul meaning chicken is basically a chicken curry, with a lovely exotic island twist. Sri Lankans love their food super spicy and this reddish chicken curry, made with thick coconut cream, tomatoes and fragrant spices is a beaut. A real treat to eat with bread, roti, rice or milk rice; this curry is a must try; you can ask for a less spicy version if you are sensitive to too much chilli.


Dhal Curry or Parippu

A staple dish at breakfast, lunch or dinner, parippu curry is a yellow coloured dhal curry made by tempering shallots, Maldive fish and curry leaves which are added to the dhal cooked in coconut cream with a dash of saffron. A lovely curry that pairs well with rice and curry or bread, parippu is an all-time Sri Lankan favourite. Besides, it's not spicy and is lovely comfort food.



Here is a dish that the Sri Lankans hang on to with love; a tradition learned from the Dutch colonists, lamprais is a rice meal indigenous to the Dutch Burgher community of Sri Lanka. Lamprais is often sold out by 11 am at most of the popular eateries, since it is a favourite alternative to the traditional rice and curry. Made by boiling rice in chicken stock, the meal consists of rice, chicken, a cutlet, fried ash-plantain curry, Maldive fish sambol and other variants which are all served around a mound of rice and wrapped up in a banana leaf. Sounds delicious? It is!