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Sri Lanka attracts travelers and adventurers from all over the world, its golden beaches and lush green landscape will entice any traveler who comes to this paradise island. But Sri Lanka offers so much more-, especially in the Culinary sense. Foodies from all over the world visit Sri Lanka to get a taste of the amazing cuisine available here. Here is team Tripninos top 10 foods to try when visiting Sri Lanka.
Regarded as the Culinary king of Sri Lankan cuisine, Rice and curry stand as the national meal of Sri Lanka. The base starch of this dish is rice. There are two types of rice typically used for this dish, Kakulu or Samba. Unlike rice used for Japanese Sushi, The rice cooked for this dish ends up being Fluffy and not sticky in texture. The dish contains A “mountain” of rice accompanied with an assortment of meat and vegetable curries. Usually, the rice and curries served in Sir Lankans hotels do not reflect the proper traditional taste of this dish, the flavors and spiciness are dulled down to suit the foreign palate. To acquire the proper traditional taste of Rice and Curry we recommend food from homestays or local shops (restaurants which only serve traditional Sri Lankan food). Usually, rice and curry comes with something
“ Mirisata ” - something spicy, a chicken or meat dish.
“ Kirata ”- something too mild and sweet to neutralize the spiciness, like ‘Dhal curry’.
“ Sambol / Salad” - Greens with lime salt and pepper.
" Thel Dala” - something slow cooked in oil, like potatoes.
“ Badumak” - Some deep fried to give a crispy element.
It is also known as fresh coconut relish. It is a very simple Sri Lankan side dish made from grated coconut, Onions, chili powder or chili flakes, lemon or lime, salt and in some regions of Sri Lanka with Maldive fish (Curated tuna). It is a dish with no cooking required, all ingredients are diced or ground and then mixed thoroughly in a bowl. It is eaten with many major Sri Lankan dishes like rice and curry, string hoppers and Pol Roti (Coconut Roti) and can even be eaten with bread.
There are several other “ sambols” in Sri Lanka like “Seeni Sambol” and “Katta Sambol” but “Pol Sambol” is the main side dish loved by Locals and tourists alike.
There are many Chicken dishes throughout the world but traditional Sri Lankan Chicken curry is a dish which is unique only to Sri Lanka. It is a common household dish in Sri Lanka and usually goes as a side dish for rice, but it is also eaten with bread, string hoppers, and Pol roti. The taste of this differs from region to region in Sri Lanka. It is made with cardamon, cloves, cinnamon sticks being tempered with oil before being combined with spices and chicken. Later on, Coconut milk is added to give the rich base of the curry.
Being an Island in the Indian ocean, Seafood is the main part of Sri Lankan cuisine. The foremost seafood dish of Sri Lanka is undoubted “Fish Ambul Thiyal” a dry curry dish made with cubed fish ( Tuna is mostly used), with a mixture of spices. The fish is saturated with black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic and curry leaves. The ingredient which highlights this dish is Dried Goraka, a tamarind like fruit which gives the fish its “Ambul” taste. When all the ingredients are simmering a small amount of water is introduced into the mix and it cooked till the water is reduced. This sour fish dish originated in southern Sri Lanka as a method to preserve fish.
It is one of Sri Lanka’s most common curries. This curry is made from ‘Mansoor dhal’ / red lentils, which is first washed thoroughly and then boiled until soft. Then the boiled lentils are strained and are added to a mixture of onions, tomatoes, green chilies and tempered spices which is being sautéed in a separate pan. Then fresh coconut milk is added to the sautéed mix to give the curries rich creamy texture. ‘Parippu’ goes with almost anything it is usually eaten with rice, bread, string hoppers and roti.
This is a very traditional dish for Sri Lankans and it is a must try when visiting Sri Lanka. It is usually made in most households at the start of every month and an important and auspicious day like Poya days, Sri Lankan New Year and on birthdays. IT is made by boiling the rice in water, once the rice is cooked, milk and salt are added to give the rice its creamy texture It is usually then made into a cake like a shape and cut into pieces. It is usually eaten with a side dish called “Lunu Miris”, a spicy sambol made with chilis and onions.There are different versions of Kiribath like “Mun Kiribath” which is basically made with the same method but with the addition of green gram into the rice. Kiribath can also be enjoyed with other curries like, “Parripu” and Chicken curry.
The Sri Lankan version of Pancakes. They are made in special pans (very small woks ) which make the end product look bowl-shaped. It is made from a batter of rice flour, coconut milk, and sugar. It is the slightly fermented, this gives the hopper a unique taste. Then once the batter is ready it is cooked in a way which makes the center very soft and the edges very crispy. They are usually enjoyed with ‘Lunu Miris’ but can be enjoyed with a lot of other side dishes. It is a very common breakfast food in Sri Lanka. There are many versions of hoppers; egg hoppers which have an egg cracked onto the hopper and “Pani Appa” which are hoppers which honey in the batter.
Lamprais is a dish which originated way back when the Dutch occupied Sri Lanka. The word itself translates to ‘packet of food’. This dish contains rice which is cooked in meat stock, a meat curry, two frikkadels (Dutch style beef balls), blachan (Shrimp paste) and vegetables. This combination is placed in the middle of a banana leaf and is then folded into a parcel and then steamed. This dish has a lot or cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon which helps recreate the original authentic dutch flavor intended for the dish.
Vegetable roti is a snack very similar to "samosas".They are made with a filling of eggs, fish or vegetables. The filling is then placed inside the dough and then made into shape. You can find it in the shape of a triangle, Square or cylinder. It is then seared on a skillet or a flat top stove. It can be eaten warm, hot, crispy or even cold it tastes amazing in any way.
Last but definitely not least Sri Lanka's Most Popular Street, Kottu or Kottu Roti, is a definite must try when in Sri Lanka. Kottu is made from cut up pieces of Roti (Flat Bread) or paratha, fine cut vegetables, pieces of meat and spices. The roti is fried up at the start of the day and piled into stacks and is cooked again to order. The Kottu chef will fry and chop the roti and the other ingredients on a flat top stove with two blunt knives. It is a definite possibility that at night you will hear the rhythmic clanging of metal on metal when the Kottu chefs work there magic. Kottu is served with a spicy curry. There are many varieties of Kottu like Cheese Kottu and Vegetarian Kottu, but the true beauty of it is you can actually talk to the Kottu Chef and customize your Kottu to your liking.