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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 13, 2023
Headline for 7 Island Best Dishes You Must Try - Top 7 Sri Lankan Culinary Treats to Sample on Your Holiday
Joanna James Joanna James
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7 Island Best Dishes You Must Try - Top 7 Sri Lankan Culinary Treats to Sample on Your Holiday

Regarded as one of Asia's culinary powerhouses, Sri Lanka is a dream destination for food lovers the world over. Here are seven dishes all visitors must sample during a holiday on the island.



As one of the most popular dishes in all of Sri Lanka, Kottu roti is no ordinary dinner staple in the country. The sound of Kottu roti being shredded to perfection is music most locals are used to hearing in city streets and Godamba roti (a thin doughy flatbread) are divided into bite-size pieces. Stir-fried with a host of spices and the diner's choice of meat, seafood or vegetables, a plate of Kottu is best eaten hot off the wok.


Gotukola Sambol

Also known as Pennywort Salad, this dish is one of the healthiest side dishes one can enjoy with a cup of steamed rice. Vegetarians rave over this simple but wholesome dish packed with nutrients due to its flavour and texture. Sliced extremely fine, the pennywort leaves are then tossed with coconut shavings, red onions and local spices. Crisp and refreshing, the use of raw ingredients means one cannot keep the dish fresh for days but must consume it within a few hours of preparation.


Wambatu Moju

This eggplant dish is both sweet, sour and spicy in flavour and is made using fried pieces of brinjal. Typically served with yellow rice or steamed rice, the taste of the "moju" resembles that of a pickle than of a traditional curry. The fried eggplant is then tossed in a mixture of vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic and chilli powder while fried onions and green chillies are also added later on. The subtle mixture of flavours is what makes this dish a firm favourite at local celebrations.


Devilled Fish Curry (Sweet and Sour)

Devilled dishes are staples in Sri Lankan cuisine and seafood devilled dishes are extremely popular among locals and visitors alike due to the fiery mix of flavours present in the dishes. The fish is first cut into pieces and then deep fried before being lathered in a sweet and sour spice mix or sauce before being friend again on a hot wok with peppers and onions. The best way to enjoy devilled fish curry is with a bowl of fried rice or a paratha roti.


Polos Curry

Young jackfruit is the primary ingredient of this mouth-watering dish which tastes more like a meat dish than a vegetarian curry. The young jackfruit is first boiled in salt water to make the morsels super tender. Then the jackfruit is slow-cooked in a special blend of spices till the curry assumes a deep brown colour and absorbs all the flavour of the spices.


Dhal Curry or Parippu

Red lentils or Mysore dhal are used to create this wholesome side dish that could literally accompany any food item including rice, flatbreads, roti, paratha, and even bread. Widely available in nearly every restaurant in the country, the dish's milky texture is achieved by the addition of coconut milk.



Hoppers are a crispy crepe-like pancake which is made using rice flour and coconut milk. Available in street side tuck shops and Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts buffets alike, this omnipresent dish is served with a sambol made of spicy red onions and chilli. Often described as one of the top things to do in Sri Lanka, sampling the various varieties of hoppers available including honey hoppers and egg hoppers is a delight no tourist should miss during a holiday in the island.