Sri Lankan cuisine is delicious, spicy, fragrant, flavourful, and divine! Though it shares similarities to South Indian food, it stands on its own two legs and is completely unique. Decades of colonization and multiple influences from neighbouring countries have given birth to a distinctive food culture unlike any other. Feast on different rice and curry options, kotthu, string hoppers, short eats and more. Let the multiple spices dance across your tongue and discover the range of flavours that Sri Lankan cuisine can offer you.
Rice and curry
Rice and curry is the main dish in Sri Lanka and many people choose to eat it for all 3 meals! The curries can be mild or (very) spicy, and made from different vegetables, lentils, fruits, and meats. Depending on where in the country you find yourself, spices will differ and each region will specialize in different types of curries. But wherever you are, the curries will more often than not have fresh and local ingredients depending on what’s in-season.
Kotthu literally means ‘chopped bread’ in Tamil, and that’s exactly what it is. The dish includes chopped roti, vegetables, spices, with egg and/or meat. Considered Sri Lanka’s street food, kotthu has been named as the country’s equivalent of the hamburger.
Commonly known as ‘lump rice’, lamprais is a dish that came from Dutch influence during their rule in the 17th and 18th century and refuses to be erased from dining tables across Sri Lanka. The dish consists of 2 special curries (a 3-meat blend and ash plantain with eggplant), seeni sambol (a deliciously sweet and spicy onion relish), frikadeller meatballs, and rice boiled in a flavourful stock, all wrapped up in a sumptuous banana leaf. Definitely not a dish to be missed!
Hoppers are the Sri Lankan equivalent of pancakes or crepes, but bowl-shaped and crispy on the edges. They’re made from rice flour and can be eaten during breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Its bowl shape makes it the perfect vessel to hold eggs topped with freshly-cracked black pepper (egg hoppers), seeni sambol, or different curries. They’re so versatile that you’ll want to eat them at every meal during your trip!
String hoppers are a typical dish for a Sri Lankan breakfast. They’re thin noodles made of rice flour and generally served with a delicious dhal (lentil) curry, coconut potato curry, chicken curry, and/or fish curry. The best part? Slathering and smooshing the string hoppers with the curries before gobbling it all down.
Milk rice, or kiribath, is a traditional Sri Lankan dish usually eaten for breakfast. It’s made of rice cooked in coconut milk, hence its name. It’s usually served with lunimiris, a relish made of red onions, mixed with chili flakes, Maldive fish, salt, and lime. It can also be eaten with seeni sambol, a sweet and spicy onion relish.