When one hears the words ‘Sri Lanka’, they think of golden beaches, sunsets, tea, or cricket teams. Yet those who visit Sri Lanka come for the tropical sunsets but stay for the food.
Sri Lankan food is like no other. Filled with aromatic spices and vibrant color, Sri Lankan food leaves you feeling happy, warm, and content. To any native Sri Lankan, nothing beats a hearty plate of rice and curry. So much so that most Sri Lankans insist on carrying jars of homemade curry or condiments when they travel abroad.
While spiciness is essentially a defining feature of Sri Lankan food, curry is most definitely another. Various different curries made with a multitude of different vegetables, meats, and spices are abundant in Sri Lanka. When you think of rice and curry, you immediately picture a full plate of rice, spicy meat curry, dhal curry, papadum (crispy deep fried crackers), mallum (green salad) and a deep fried red chilli for a little extra kick. Sri Lankan curry varies from the not-at-all-spicy kiri hodi and the mildly spicy dhal curry to the eye-wateringly spicy chicken curry that is everyone’s favourite. From lunu miris (spicy onion sambol) and pol sambol (coconut sambol) to maalu ambulthiyal (fish curry), the variety and variation of Sri Lankan curry and sambols is endless, and is a must for everyone who visits Sri Lanka. But wait! Rice is not the only thing you eat curry with! Sri Lankan cuisine offers a variety of uniquely Sri Lankan foods such as indi appa (string hoppers), appa (hoppers), pittu and roti that pair amazingly well with the different curries and sambols.
One of the reasons why Sri Lanka is an ideal destination for travelers and food enthusiasts is the multi-cultural nature of the country. Sri Lankan cuisine is a culmination of diverse food items from the various cultures in the country. Each ethnic community in Sri Lanka offers their own unique contribution to Sri Lankan cuisine. The Sinhalese community is known for foods such as kiribath (milk rice) and the variety of festive sweets such as kavum, kokis, aluwa etc. The Tamil community brings a range of mouth-watering foods such as dosai, idly, wadei, murukku etc and delicious sweets such as kesari, jalebi and laddoo etc. Faluda, biryani, and wattalapam are foods that has its roots in the Sri Lankan Muslim community. The Burgher community is known for its lamprais, rich cake, and Sri Lankan style crepes/ pancakes stuffed with pani pol (shredded coconut with honey) that is just what you need to enjoy your evening cup of tea to the max.
Street food must not be left out when speaking of Sri Lankan cuisine. Kottu is undoubtedly one of the most defining items of Sri Lankan street food. Made up of shredded gothamba roti, vegetables, meat, and a healthy serving of spicy curry, kottu is the ultimate Sri Lankan comfort food and is most certainly up there in the top 10 Sri Lankan foods to try before you die. In fact, most youth in Sri Lanka like to enjoy a plate of creamy cheese kottu after a long night of drinking. You simply cannot walk down a road in Sri Lanka without spotting a cart or display case full of colorful fruity drinks, isso wadei, samosas, achcharu, manioc chips etc. that you are just tempted to buy. ‘Short eats’ are another vital and unique part of Sri Lankan cuisine. Consisting of patties, cutlets, Chinese rolls, maalu paan (fish buns), and various types of pastries, short eats are always there when you need a snack with your evening tea or a quick breakfast in the morning.
Given the countless assortment of flavors and textures of Sri Lankan food, there is no doubt that Sri Lankan cuisine is a phenomenal gastronomical adventure. From fine dining establishments to roadside eateries and street food vendors, Sri Lanka offers a unique and flavorsome food experience to all travelers. By visiting Sri Lanka, you get to experience the cuisine of not just one but four different cultures that all seamlessly blend into a type of cuisine that can only be defined as inherently Sri Lankan.