People who visit Sri Lanka often are amazed by the fact the small country has several food varieties. It is not only the flora and fauna that makes the cuisine here unique but their cultural diversity too.
Traders from various countries and continents such as Africa, India, Europe, the Malay world and Arabia visited Sri Lanka during the 16th century which led to them bringing their respective indigenous cuisines, various cooking techniques and styles to this country.
10 must-try Sri Lankan dishes during your visit to the country
Sambol is a fiery and fresh sauce typically made using a pestle and mortar. It is a side dish that comes in many varieties. Polsambol is a combination of delicately grated coconut, red onion, red chillies, lime juice and cured tuna. Various other favourites include spicy and sharp lunu miris, an aromatic fusion of red chillies and onions and sweet and sour seeni sambol made using caramelized onion.
#2. Egg hoppers
When you sit down for your breakfast, you will notice that Egg hoppers are all over the place. This traditional breakfast dish is a bowl-shaped savoury pancake. You can find it anywhere you go; at restaurants or street food booths. They are made using fermented rice flour batter along with coconut water, coconut milk and a sprinkle of sugar. This is then cooked in a high-sided pan that resembles a wok. An egg is beaten into the dish as it cooks and a spicy sambol is served as a side dish.
This is yet another favourite amongst the locals. The creamy coconut dessert is spiced with nutmeg and cardamom and sweetened using palm sugar or kithul jaggery. It is an influence of the Malay World and is quite related to egg custard. Air bubbles help keep the dish from becoming heavy while the sprinkling of nuts adds a crunch to its silky texture. It is much-loved by grownups and kids alike and you can find it in restaurants, hotels and homes.
#4. Gotu Kola Kanda
This traditional green concoction is the country’s natural answer to an energy drink. It is made up of leafy greens that include hathawariya and herb gotu kola and rice. The dish is said to have numerous health-giving materials including enhancing the immune system assisting digestion and reducing cholesterol.
Lentil curry or Dhal is a side dish that is consumed at least twice a day by the locals. Red lentils, onions, coconut milk, spicy green chillies and several spices like cumin, cinnamon, pandan leaves and fenugreek are cooked together. It is a bit thin compared to its Indian equivalent with more spices and it is tastier when prepared using a conventional clay pot.
#6. Kottu rotti
When you stroll in the streets of the country, you can hear the sound of Kottu rotti being made somewhere near you. It is made with roti, chicken, vegetables and spices which are then hacked into small pieces over a griddle thus creating a unique sound and smell that is sure to grab your attention and pique your interest in wanting to taste it right away.
#7. Fish Ambul Thiyal
Fish Ambul Thiyal is one amongst the simplest recipes as far as Sri Lankan cuisine is concerned. Fishes are sautéed in a mix of spices [curry leaves, pandan leaves, dried goraka] after being slit into cubes. They are then cooked till the water gets reduced. You are sure to relish this Sri Lankan favourite since it will burst out several flavours once you put it in your mouth.
#8. Jackfruit curry
There are numerous curry varieties to try, however, some are outstanding than others. This curry is special and unique since when you consume it, you will never know that you are having jackfruit. The flavour of this curry is amazing that you would want to have it at least once every day during your stay in Sri Lanka. It is a good curry for vegetarians since it looks a lot like meat but doesn’t actually have it. There are several other curries such as banana or mango that are worth trying.
This is one amongst the best fusion dishes you will ever get to try. The ancestors of the Dutch settlers came up with this one-pot meal that is eaten to this day by thousands of local Sri Lankan residents for lunch on Sundays. This authentic recipe includes meatballs, cardamom and cinnamon and seeni sambol. Curry and rice are wrapped using a banana leaf and is then allowed to steam. It is one amongst the elaborate dishes that make the food here in this country appealing and a must-try.
#10. Kukul Mas Curry
This dish is made using oil, chicken pieces, lemongrass, pandan leaves, curry leaves, spices, tomato puree and coconut milk. The gravy is allowed to simmer for some time while the chicken pieces get cooked. It is served with bread and rice. This popular side dish is flavoursome that you will want to order one more of it.
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