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Updated by Joanna James on May 02, 2024
Headline for 5 Mouthwatering dishes to try in Sri Lanka – Indulge in the best dishes from the vibrant cuisine of this paradise island
Joanna James Joanna James
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5 Mouthwatering dishes to try in Sri Lanka – Indulge in the best dishes from the vibrant cuisine of this paradise island

Known for her tea, precious gemstones and beautiful beaches and many other treasures, this teardrop island in the Indian Ocean is also home to a vibrant cuisine. Some authentically Sri Lankan, some lovingly handed down from colonial times and some personifying the unique blend of cultures prevalent.


Crispy and light Hoppers

Made from rice flour, creamy milk of the coconut which is Sri Lanka's wonder fruit used in many dishes, a bit of coconut water and a pinch of sugar which is combined and left to ferment for a few hours. A spoonful of the batter is cooked in small wok-shaped pans by first twirling the pan expertly by hopper chefs. Once done it resembles a wide bowl with a soft bottom and crisp edges. Served with fish or meat curry and onion fry at many restaurants in Kalutara, a variation is the egg hopper with an egg being cracked onto the soft centre, both types of hoppers are breakfast and dinner favourites in Sri Lanka.


Aromatic fish ambul thiyal

Being an island Sri Lankans enjoy seafood and many varieties of dishes are concocted around the island using ubiquitous seafood. Of these varieties, the excellent Fish Ambul Thiyal is a firm favourite of many as it can be eaten with rice, bread, hoppers, and many other carbohydrates. Using a large fish such as tuna cut into cubes, and sauteed over a slow fire with a blend of spices such as cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, chilli powder, curry and pandan leaves and the small fruit Goraka which gives the fish the sour taste making the overall dish an aromatic and divine one. This is served for breakfast and dinner at many hotels such as Avani Kalutara Resort.


Spicy and yummy kottu

Kottu is mostly enjoyed at dinner, however, it can be eaten anytime during the day as it is a fast food turned out by street vendors, hotels, and restaurants. Listen to the clanging of metal on metal as kottu is expertly made on a hot griddle. Strips of Godamba roti (made from flour, water, and oil) are used as the base to which chopped onions, leeks, carrots and the meat of your choice are added, seasoned to perfection and combined well using the metals. The end product is eye-catching and yummy accompanied by gravy filling you well


Tantalising lamprais

A recipe handed down from the Dutch who colonized Sri Lanka, Lamprais conjures up a vision of a delicious lump of rice wrapped up in a fragrant banana leaf. This all-in-one meal is a must-savour dish when visiting Sri Lanka. Small-grained rice is cooked in meat or vegetable stock with a dash of spices like cinnamon, cloves, and cardamoms. Once done the rice is served onto a banana leaf with servings of the choice of meat, ash plantain or brinjal, onion fry and a cutlet, carefully wrapped up and steamed or baked for a few minutes. This is relished by all not leaving a morsel of food.


Inviting Wood apple juice

This fruit looks similar to a de-husked coconut but is usually smaller, it also has a hard shell but is easier to crack. Once this is ripe, the cracked Woodapple exposes a dark brown soft mass similar to tamarind pulp emanating an inviting smell. Whilst it can be directly eaten as fresh fruit, with a pinch of salt and dash of sugar it is delicious. Most Sri Lankans love to savour the juice by blending it sometimes with coconut milk, and even without. Adding treacle or jaggery and a dash of salt the chilled juice is a heavenly and invigorating drink with a blob of vanilla ice cream.