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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 13, 2023
Headline for 07 Best Vegetarian Sri Lankan Cuisine – Savour the colourful and tasty array of dishes
Joanna James Joanna James
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07 Best Vegetarian Sri Lankan Cuisine – Savour the colourful and tasty array of dishes

Bound towards the alluring beaches down south or the scenic hill country, this tiny island of Sri Lanka belies its size in terms of the beauty it beholds. The exotic cuisine with ubiquitous rice or roti with curries using coconut milk, authentic spices, and fresh vegetables complement the offering.


Creamy Jackfruit Curry (Kiri Kos Curry)

A delicious and nourishing Sri Lankan staple made with skinned jackfruit cut into thin strips and cooked on a slow fire with creamy coconut milk. Salt, turmeric and other spices along with curry and pandan leaves make it a creamy and aromatic concoction. Enjoyed by visitors at many restaurants in Kalutara, Kiri Kos is served with steamed country rice and pol sambal made with grated coconut or a stir-fried green dish.


Mixed Vegetable Curry

Curries in Sri Lanka are dishes that add flavour and taste to the carbohydrates such as rice or roti. Most vegetarians love all-in-one, mixed vegetable curry with their rice or roti. Chopped potatoes, cauliflower, green beans, and carrots can be used with one or two more or less vegetables as preferred. Onion, garlic, and ginger are sauteed, to which spices are folded in along with the chopped vegetables, when vegetables are well-coated by the spice mix coconut milk is added and allowed to simmer until the vegetables become tender. Once ready, a fistful of chopped coriander leaves is added and served with rice or roti.


Chickpea Curry

Also called Kadala in Sri Lanka this curry is a firm favourite of vegetarians. Well-boiled chickpeas are cooked in a thick tomato puree seasoned with a fistful of spices until it becomes tender and mushy absorbing all the flavours. A dash of fresh coriander leaves is added just before serving it with chapati or naan, two of the famous types of roti eaten in Sri Lanka. This is a combination enjoyed by many vegetarian guests at Mermaid Hotel & Club.


Dhal or Lentil Curry

Most Sri Lankan households and restaurants make this popular dish using red lentils. With many different variations being made by creative chefs, the taste can slightly vary. Cooking it with coconut milk and spices and tossing in a palm full of stir-fried mustard, onion, garlic and curry leaf mix right at the end is the most common method resulting in a Dhal curry that is a great accompaniment for rice or roti.


Tender cashew curry

Freshly cut raw cashews are used to make this creamy curry. The cashews either halved or in full form are cooked in creamy coconut milk with onion, garlic, cinnamon, curry and pandan leaves and spices. The cashews become tender as all the goodness is absorbed making it a delightful accompaniment to Sri Lankan yellow rice and Egg Plant Moju which are prepared for special occasions.


Egg Plant Moju

Made by using eggplant cut into bite-sized strips lengthwise, dusted with turmeric and chilli powder and deep fried in hot oil until they become crisp and golden. This entire lot of crispy eggplant is tossed into a stir fry of mustard, chopped shallots, and green chillis with a dash of sugar, mixing everything tenderly to not squash the eggplant add a few drops of coconut vinegar and gently toss the pan to let it be absorbed. This dish is a kind of pickle with a tinge of sweetness to it.


Pol Sambal

This is an authentic Sri Lankan dish made with grated coconut, chopped shallots, dried chilli flakes, pepper and salt. All ingredients are well pounded using the pestle and mortar turned out into a dish and sprinkled with a dash of lime or lemon juice. Sri Lankans eat very spicy; however, many restaurants prepare it with medium spice so that it can still be enjoyed with steamed rice and a lentil curry.

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