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Updated by Joanna James on Apr 10, 2020
Headline for 10 Best Dishes to Try Out in Sri Lanka - Ten Must Sample Sri Lankan Delicacies
Joanna James Joanna James
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10 Best Dishes to Try Out in Sri Lanka - Ten Must Sample Sri Lankan Delicacies

Home to one of the globe's most underrated cuisines, Sri Lanka offers food lovers the chance to discover a world of flavours. Here are 10 local dishes every traveller must dig into during a visit.


Coconut Sambol

As a breakfast staple that's served in households around the country, coconut sambol is a spicy, fresh salad made using grated coconut, chilli flakes, lime and red onions. Seasoned with salt and pepper, the sambol is pounded with a mortar and pestle before it is combined further by hand and set on the table. The popular side dish often accompanies steamted rice and string hoppers.


Kottu Roti

Slices of shredded Godamba roti are used to create this all time favourite dinner meal which often employs leftover meat items and vegetables. Served in street side canteens and cafes, the Kottu roti comes in a plethora of flavours from chicken and vegetable Kottu to cheese and egg Kottu. Diners often choose their preferred ingredients as the chef or cook used two metal plates to dice all the ingredients together before stir- frying everything in a wok.


Yellow Rice

As a rice variety that is often prepared during special occasions or celebrations, yellow rice is a fragrant rice dish that is cooked in thick coconut cream and a spice pouch that includes cardamom, cloves and pepper. The creamy texture and flavour of the rice is unmistakable as is the aroma of this mild rice dish that's easy on the pallet.


Gotukola Sambol

Also known as Pennywort Salad, this is one of the healthiest and freshest salads in Sri Lankan cuisine. Pennywort leaves are washed and then cut into miniscule pieces before being tossed together with red onions, coconut shavings, salt, pepper and Maldives fish.


Fish Ambulthiyal

As a slow cooked fish curry, tuna or any other kind of red fish variety is soaked in a spice mix that includes Gamboge, pepper, salt, garlic, ginger and chilli powder for days before it is finally cooked. The dark hued curry is spicy and tangy and is often served alongside other curries during a traditional Sri Lankan lunchtime meal in Kalpitiya restaurants including those found inside Dolphin Beach Resort and other resorts.


Batu Moju

Eggplants are sliced and fried alongside whole chillies and onion slices to create this sweet and sour dish that's revered by locals and expats alike. Cooked in a spice mix which includes mustard cream, sugar, salt, pepper, ginger and garlic, the dish's sourness is attributed to the heavy use of coconut vinegar.



Considered a dish that's a part of Sri Lanka's colonial heritage, Lamprais is a Dutch rice dish which involves baking a number of curries and steamed rice wrapped in a banana leaf. Some of the classic side dishes found inside a Lamprais include a fish cutlet, onion salad, Batu moju, an ash plantain curry and a fried egg while meat items such as chicken and beef are also thrown into the mix.


Milk Rice

Another celebratory meal in Sri Lanka, rice is cooked in coconut milk until the rice grains are soft and gooey. Served with jaggary and sugar, milk rice is also delicious when consumed with onion sambol.


Parippu (Dhal Curry)

As a humble dish that's as delicious as it is ubiquitous, Parippu curry is an essential component of any rice and curry meal.



With a filling made from caramelized coconut shavings and treacle, Sri Lankan pancakes are wrapped in a batter that employs coconut milk instead of dairy products.