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Updated by Joanna James on Apr 25, 2020
Headline for Sri Lankan Food: 12 of the Island's Best - Top 12 Local Treats to Sample in Sri Lanka
Joanna James Joanna James
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Sri Lankan Food: 12 of the Island's Best - Top 12 Local Treats to Sample in Sri Lanka

As one of Asia's premier culinary hotspots, Sri Lankan cuisine is one of the best reasons to holiday in the island. Here are 12 local dishes every traveller must sample during a trip to the country.



The crispy crepe like pancake which comes in both plain and egg variations is one of Sri Lanka's favourite dinner meals. Made using rice flour and coconut milk, the batter is fried in a deep skillet to create the unique shape of what locals call "Appa."


String Hoppers

Served in most local restaurants for breakfast and dinner, string hoppers are often accompanied with gravy and a sambol. The round shaped noodle like item is stacked in groups of 5's and 10's in local restaurants and is one of the lighter meal options in the local cannon.



Made from shredded pieces of Godamba roti, Kottu can rightly be described as one of Sri Lanka's most irresistible food items. Available in a host of meat infused and seafood infused variations, the latest Kottu flavour to hit the market is the much loved cheese Kottu.


Fish Ambulthiyal

The sour and spicy flavour of this delectable tuna fish dish is attributed to the special spice mix used in creating the seafood curry. Gamboge is one of the more prominent spices used in this dish which ferments and marinates the tuna pieces for several days so the flavours soak through and colour the fish.


Gotukola Sambol

Also known as Pennywort Salad, Gotukola Sambol is one of the healthiest salad options in the local culinary school. The raw salad infuses shredded pennywort leaves with red onions, lime juice, Maldive fish shards and coconut shavings to create a wholesome dish rich in nutrients.


Wambatu Moju

Eggplant fanatics and vegans alike will appreciate the strong flavours of this sweet and sour curry that's served alongside steamed rice. Eggplants, green chillies and onions are first fried to perfection before being marinated with mustard seeds, vinegar, sugar, garlic and ginger in this classic local staple.


Pol Sambol

Consumed in local households at least once a day, the humble Pol Sambol is a side dish that accompanies everything from steamed rice and hoppers to string hoppers and parata. Coconut shavings are pounded together with Maldive fish, red onions, red chilli flakes, salt, pepper and lime juice to create this mouth watering salad.



This cylindrical shaped meal item served in Sri Lankan homes is another rice flour concoction that also employs coconut shavings aplenty. Onion sambol and coconut milk gravy are the traditional accompanying side dishes to a plate of Pittu which can also be enjoyed with a seafood curry.


Cuttlefish Curry

The abundance of fresh seafood accessible to islanders has meant that cuttlefish, prawn and crab curries are some of the most commonplace dishes in the local cannon. The cuttlefish curry is one such treat which is made using a host of spices and coconut milk to make the heady dish a tad milder on the palette.


Chocolate Biscuit Pudding

Affectionately known as CBP among the locals, this fusion dessert is a chocolate lover's dream come true. Those based at Hunas Falls or any other resort in Kandy will find this dessert listed on the hotel restaurant menus.



Watalappam is a frequently featured dish in local celebrations thanks to its hearty flavour which is a combination of eggs, kitul jaggary and coconut milk.


Sago Pudding

A cooling pudding made using boiled sago seeds, the rose water, coconut milk and sugar add flavour to this unique local dessert.

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