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9 dishes you must eat on your next trip to Sri Lanka

Travel is assigned many virtues. It is called therapy, a means to gather inspiration for stories and the way to expand one’s mind. Sri Lanka, a land filled with exotic culture and ancient stories, surrounded by azure waters, layered with rich greenery along with incredible heritage is the stuff of every traveller’s dreams. Its position in the Indian Ocean close to shipping routes has meant imminent influences from visitors over centuries, many of which continue in its rich cuisine which has distinct shared Asian roots. By far, rice is a staple and coconut makes a regular appearance, apart from fiery side dishes made with generous use of spices. As much as vegetables are popular, as an island nation, seafood is also fresh and delicious, especially prawns, crabs and local fish varieties. Here are some must try dishes that are bound to tickle the taste buds and satiate the palate. Most of these are widely available across the country in hotel buffets, restaurants and even street-side eateries.

Kukul Mas Curry

This is the traditional chicken curry or chicken stew of Sri Lanka, found in every household and restaurant specialising in local cuisine. It is made with thick coconut milk which adds to the main flavor of the curry, and is usually pleasantly spicy. It is a staple dish and is best savoured with steamed rice, roti or string hoppers.


A traditional rice pudding made out of boiled rice and coconut milk, Kiribath is served on special occasions to commemorate a celebration. It is mostly served with lunu miris a spicy sedimentary paste.


In summer, when jackfruit is available in abundance, the raw version is used to make a piquant curry. Chopped jackfruit chunks are mixed with spices and onions topped with coconut milk. It is also the vegetarian/vegan answer to tender beef roast, with the chunks resembling the meat.


A famous Sri Lankan all-in-one meal, Lamprais is a combination of two words, “lump” and “rice.” Adopted from the Dutch during colonial rule, it includes rice, chicken curry, fish curry, Dutch meatballs called Frikkadels, eggplant curry, and various other dishes, all wrapped in banana leaf and baked in an oven. It is available as street food as well as in restaurants.


Popularly known as the hamburger of Sri Lanka, Kottu is a beloved street food that is popular more with the younger generation though the older generation is not averse to it. Rotis are fried and crumpled and then combined with meat and vegetables and given a good swirl before being served. It is also consumed with various spicy and sour sauces and salads.


Made with rice flour batter and usually fermented with toddy, and then either steamed or pan-friend, these resemble dosa. There are also string hoppers akin to the South Indian idiyappam. Both serve as accompaniments to mop up gentle or fiery curries, and likely to substitutes for rice. They are also ideal breakfast dishes.


Several relishes form part of the Sri Lankan meal, but none is more delicious and satisfying as the variety of sambals. Enticing and usually spicy, these are relishes that accompany every meal and are of many varieties – coconut, tamarind, onion etc.


Possibly the most famous Sri Lankan dessert, watalappam is a bit like caramel custard and is made with eggs, coconut milk and jaggery. The smooth texture and the nutty flavour from the coconut milk combine to make a perfect end to a meal.


A South Asian version of the Arabic desert Kunafa, this sweet is made with a large amount of milk added to rice flour to prepare a batter along with cinnamon, coconut milk, and sugar. The batter is deep-fried in oil until a crispy pakoda-like texture is formed. Asmi is a routine sweet snack relished with family over tea in the evening.


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