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Updated by Joanna James on Oct 23, 2019
Headline for 12 Dishes Everyone Should Try In Sri Lanka - Top 12 Sri Lankan Culinary Treats to Sample on Holiday
Joanna James Joanna James
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12 Dishes Everyone Should Try In Sri Lanka - Top 12 Sri Lankan Culinary Treats to Sample on Holiday

Tipped to be one of the world's most underrated culinary heartlands, authentic Sri Lankan cuisine has a lot to offer travellers around the world. Here are 12 must-sample dishes in the local cannon.


Malu Ambul Thiyal or Sour Fish Curry

With unequal access to fresh seafood, it is no surprise that this tuna curry is one of the most popular dishes in the local cuisine. Made using a special spice mix which includes Gamboge, chilli powder, pepper and roaster curry powder, the black coloured dish is tangy and best enjoyed with steamed rice.



Widely available throughout the country, this popular street food is not only delectable but irresistible to those who have sampled it at least once. Strips of Godamba roti are tossed with a flavourful sauce, meat items and veggies to create this spicy concoction. There are more than a dozen varieties of Kottu including Cheese Kottu.


Wambatu Moju or Eggplant Pickle

This succulent dish is not only a vegetarian's dream dish but also one that infuses opposing flavours. Brinjal wedges are first deep-fried and then combined with caramelized onions, deep-fried chillies and a host of other ingredients including mustard seeds, sugar, chilli powder, red onions and vinegar.



Comparable to Thai pickles, Achcharu refers to any pickled item that's served as a side dish to rice and curries. Crunchy and zesty, the bold mixture of colour and flavour makes these decidedly spicy pickle dishes the perfect lip-smacking accompaniment to any dish. Achcharu is made using different vegetables and fruits including mangoes, pineapple, dates and ambarella.



Comparable to a crispy crepe with a thick middle portion, hoppers are another dinner time favourite among locals. The rice flour pancake mixture used to create hoppers is infused with coconut milk and is poured onto a hot circular pan and typically enjoyed with onion sambal known as "lunu miris."



As a dish with colonial heritage, Lamprais is a rice dish which has Dutch and burgher origins. The rice dish is baked in a banana leaf with specific curries always featuring as accompaniments. This includes a fried egg, a fish cutlet, an ash plantain curry and a brinjal pickle while different meat items are also added according to the wishes of the diner.



The cylinder-shaped steamed rice flour and coconut "cake" is another delicious local treat that's consumed as a breakfast dish and a dinner staple. Resembling South India's Puttu dish to a great extent this wholesome meal is typically served alongside a coconut milk curry and a spicy pickle.



Also known as dhal curry, this dish is a common feature of nearly every rice and curry meal in Sri Lanka. Made using Mysore dhal, the lentils are cooked in a broth which includes coconut milk.



This green jackfruit curry is only made during the season in which young jackfruit is widely available on the island. The wedges of jackfruit are marinated in a plethora of ingredients and then boiled first in water and then with coconut milk to make this dish.


Milk Rice

As a meal in and of itself, milk rice is often used in local celebrations and involves cooking rice in coconut milk and salt. Those dining at Arie Lagoon or any similar Negombo restaurant will find this dish in the breakfast menu.


Pol Sambol

Grated coconut shavings are pounded with chilli powder, pepper, salt and chilli pieces to create this spicy sambal.



Chocolate biscuit pudding is another colonial leftover in Sri Lankan cuisine which involves soaking cookies in warm milk and arranging it in a chocolate ganache complete made using butter, sugar, cocoa powder and brandy.

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