Sri Lanka Specialities
If you like your curry, holidays in Sri Lanka are probably calling you already. Likened to South Indian cuisine, Sri Lankan flavours are dominated by spices, coconut, and chillies, with the island's dishes considered among the worlds hottest. While standard foods are spicy, many restaurants tone the chilli content down for tourists. Being an island, Sri Lanka has plenty of seafood to tempt you, with spicy barbecued fish and coconut shrimp curry just two of the options on the menu.
In Sri Lanka, mealtimes usually consist of a main meat or fish curry and several other curries made with vegetables, lentils, and even fruit. Distinctive flavours include coconut milk, onion, chilli, cumin, coriander, and aromatic spices such as cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, and saffron.
Rice and Side Dishes
All that curry needs something to help take the heat, and most curry dishes are served with boiled or steamed rice. Other more flavoursome side dishes include chutneys, pickles and sambal, a spicy chilli-based paste. The most famous, coconut sambal, is made of ground coconut, chillies, dried fish and lime juice. Also served on the side is mallung, a blend of chopped leaves, grated coconut, and red onion.
A bit like a Sri Lankan créme caramel, this steamed custard dessert uses some of the island’s best ingredients. Aromatic and sweet, wattalapam is made from coconut milk, eggs, jaggery (fudge made from the sap of the kitul palm) and cashew nuts, softly spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
From beachfront shacks and little stalls on the roadside, to market sellers and food carts attached to bicycles, authentic Sri Lankan street food is easy to find. Line up with the locals to sample island snacks and spicy favourites. Be careful to only order street food from vendors whose food is clean, fresh, and cooked right in front of you.
These wafer-thin, bowl-shaped pancakes are cooked in small rounded pans to give them a crispy outside and a soft, spongy centre. A blend of rice flour, coconut milk and toddy (palm wine), this iconic Sri Lankan snack is popular at breakfast time, especially with a baked egg on top.
This tasty street dish has become a popular midnight snack for partygoers in Sri Lanka. Shredded pieces of paratha bread are stir-fried with a blend of spices like ginger and curry powder, as well as other ingredients like garlic, leeks, onions, chillies, eggs, cheese and/or meat, all served with curry sauce to moisten the dish.
Shaped like a small doughnut, this savoury snack is made from chickpea flour, mashed or diced potatoes, and/or dhal lentils. Vadas are seasoned with mustard seeds, curry leaves, onions, chillies, ginger, and black pepper, then shaped and deep-fried. Eat them dipped in tangy chutney while they are still hot and crunchy.