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Updated by Joanna James on Dec 01, 2019
Headline for Top 10 Sri Lankan cuisine you must-try during your holiday - Eat like a Lankan!
Joanna James Joanna James
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Top 10 Sri Lankan cuisine you must-try during your holiday - Eat like a Lankan!

Sri Lankan cuisine has always been influenced by its neighbouring India and years of colonization by different nationalities who have influenced its food culture and traditions. Yet it retains its distinct flavours and methods which can slightly vary from dish to dish. Rice and curry is staple food whilst the Lankans love their spices and fries. Check out these top 10 gastronomical delights as you embark on a journey of hospitality and food.



Rice is the main dish in most of the cuisines in Sri Lanka. The rice can be prepared in different ways and eaten with a variety of curries cooked with spices to taste which include vegetables, a meat dish and mallum (Green leaves). This is pretty much a well-balanced meal. Day to day cuisines include steamed white and red rice. Milk rice (otherwise known as 'Kiribath' is cooked on special occasions and as a breakfast dish. Coconut milk is used for Kiribath and cooking of other vegetable and meat dishes.



Being an Island has its perks and plenty of fish to taste. Fish curry is cooked as a milk curry (Kiri maalu) or Fish spicy curry with added chillies and a combination of spices to taste. The sour Fish curry (Ambul Thiyal) is also a local delicacy made with a number of spices combined together. Ideally, the curries should be cooked in clay pots to preserve its taste and nutrition.


Green Jackfruit Curry

The green jackfruit curry is called polos curry in which tender jack fruit chunks are cooked in aromatic spices. It almost tastes like a delicious beef dish but with its own unique taste. Many of the local food outlets specialising in traditional dishes do add a jackfruit curry to their lunch menu. If you happen to use a Sri Lanka Travel Agency, make sure to request for a stopover at a local food outlet and check out the dish.


Coconut Sambol

Locally referred to as 'Pol Sambol', is the king of all dishes. This spicy side dish is made out of shredded coconut mixed with chilli flakes, red onions, lime and salt to taste. It goes well with any dish and is a household favourite eaten with rice, bread, roti and pretty much anything that you might want to eat it with.



The art of making a kottu itself is a fascination of its own and the craving another. A Kottu is made out of shredded pieces of Sri Lankan godamba roti. The pieces are stir-fried with a variety of spices and a choice of other meaty (or vegetarian) ingredients.


Vegetarian Dishes

Vegetables are an integral part of the lunch menu and are cooked in different ways. Some of the signature dishes are the Brinjal Moju ( a sweet mix of fried eggplant with other ingredients), Elabatu curry (similar to Thai eggplant curry) and the famous Del Curry (Breadfruit Curry) which simply melts in your mouth and is cooked with creamy coconut milk with selected spices to bring out the different tasters in them. Last but not least is the red lentil curry (dhal curry) which can be cooked in different ways and is a staple with most of the main dishes throughout a regular day.


Seafood Delights

The mere mention of the names of some signature seafood dishes is sufficient to simply order you're the next time you're at a seafood restaurant or food outlet. The spicy Jaffna prawn curry (or shrimp curry), spicy crab curry or the cuttlefish or squid curries are some of these local delicacies to look out for.


Coconut Roti

Coconut Roti or locally known as pol roti and is available as a snack at roadside food outlets and street vendors. And it has a spicy paste made of chilli flakes and salt. The roti is made with freshly grated coconut, flour, water and salt. They are made into balls of dough, flattened, and then cooked on a hot griddle.



From the busy street food stalls to a luxurious resort, 'Appa' or hoppers are a real treat for everyone in and out of the island. Hoppers are made using a regular pancake batter that is spruced up with coconut milk. Thereafter the batter is cooked in a small rounded pan (similar to a wok). The dough cooks thick and soft on the bottom, and thin and crunchy around the edges. An egg can be added at the bottom. Usually there are plain, egg and milk hoppers to choose from.


A cup of Sri Lankan Tea

With its long history of tea, no trip is complete without a few cups of Sri Lankan tea. Whether it's a ginger tea, plain tea or a milk tea, you can try out a variety of teas to taste from a number of outlets that specialises in tea. Travel companies such as Aitken Spence Travels will know where to stop for a break and let you enjoy a sip of a hot cuppa tea.

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