Sri Lankan cuisine is known for its explosive flavours and the unique blend of exotic spices. This culinary variety is, in fact, a perfect representation of the resourceful islanders and the different ethnic groups that can be found here. When it comes to what to eat in Sri Lanka, foodies are spoilt for choice be it spicy or sweet, made with local ingredients that add to the tantalising taste of each dish.
Rice & curry
A quintessential Sri Lankan favourite, rice and curry is very much a part of the national cuisine. In fact, it is not uncommon for people to enjoy this staple diet for all three meals; while you get white and red rice varieties, it is served with meat dishes and a range of different veggies. To complement this culinary journey, a rice and curry dish usually also comes with a choice of accompaniments be it pickle, dried fish or coconut sambol.
Other main food items
They say “variety is the spice of life” and it is certainly true for Sri Lankan cuisine too! Arouse your taste buds with the dazzling choice of dishes which you can enjoy at a city hotel, holiday resort or even at bustling roadside eateries. You must try Sri Lankan dishes such as hoppers, kottu, string hoppers, pittu or rotti, a type of flatbread that ideally comes with some chilli sambol, veggies and a choice of meats based on your preferences
What better place to enjoy the most delectable seafood than by the coast! Sri Lankans love their seafood and you can find an assortment of freshly prepared dishes from spicy crab curries to succulent jumbo prawns; these spice-filled creations not only provide a flavourful dining experience but also offer insights into the island’s rich food traditions.
It’s not just spicy food that Sri Lanka is famous for and those with a sweet tooth will encounter plenty to tempt their taste buds. From the local favourite of buffalo curd with an ample topping of coconut treacle to the always popular vanilla ice cream served with chocolate sauce, local desserts will have you craving for more. There is a large variety of fresh fruits that you can sample after a meal as well, perfect on those hot days.
The various annual religious and cultural festivals present the ideal time to savour traditional dishes known as ‘sweetmeats’. Due to Sri Lanka’s multicultural nature, each community has their own specialities that you can try. Kavum a kind of hot oil cake can be enjoyed during the period of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year along with other traditional treats like kokis and aluwa. When the Eid season comes along, watalappam is a favoured dish and is a kind of sweet pudding made using jaggery and egg white.
For those looking to eat healthily and have a delicious treat as well, Sri Lanka has lots of fresh fruits to enjoy. Be it bananas, pineapples, papayas or fresh strawberries grown in the mountains of Nuwara Eliya, there is much to choose from. Sour or sweet mango varieties are also favoured here and are sometimes eaten with chilli and salt in a variation known as “achcharu”. Papaya juice is a popular drink to start to the day, while exotic fruits such as mangosteen, pomegranate, rambutan and durian should definitely be tried at least once!