Market stall selling local produce

Attraction

Sri Lankan Cuisine

Although the influences from India are certainly notable, the Sri Lankan spice palate is undoubtedly unique, with clever twists, flavour combinations, and cooking techniques that enhance local produce to delicious effect.

Full of spice and bursting with flavour

Sri Lanka is a fertile land, with an abundance of fruit, vegetables and spices. This combined with the strong presence of Buddhism makes Sri Lanka a destination where vegans too can enjoy a varied culinary experience. Notable ingredients include the highly adaptable jackfruit (which can be sweet, savoury, or nutty) and the huge avocados in abundance across Sri Lanka. 

Curries

Sri Lanka is a haven for flavoursome curry dishes. Distinctive flavours include coconut milk, onion, chilli, cumin, coriander and aromatic spices such as cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom and saffron. Queen of the Sri Lankan curries is Parippu, however, is the dhal curry. Combining dhal lentils and spices with coconut milk, the Sri Lankan Parippu is distinctive with its mellow flavour and vibrant yellow colour, making it a popular side dish with almost any meal.

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 popular side dishes include chutneys, mallung (a blend of chopped leaves, grated coconut and red onion) and sambal,  (a spicy chilli-based paste made of ground coconut, chillies, dried fish and lime juice). 

Wattalapam

A bit like 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.

Street Food

From beachfront shacks and little stalls on the roadside, to market sellers and food carts attached to bicycles, authentic Sri Lankan street food is never far away. Line up with the locals to sample island snacks and spicy favourites, including:

Hoppers

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.

Kothu Roti

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, cheese and meat, all served with curry sauce.

Vada

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 peppers, then shaped and deep-fried. Eat them dipped in tangy chutney while they are still hot and crunchy.

Top Tips from our Experts

Martyn

Destination Manager

“Take advantage of Sri Lanka’s street food! The street vendors and stalls are where you will find some of the best and most creative examples of classic Sri Lankan food and possibly discover a unique dish.”

Christie

Destination Executive

“Take note of what part of the country you are in and choose dishes that incorporate local ingredients - seafood on the coast for example - and try to eat where the locals do.”