What to Eat

Sri Lanka is famous worldwide for its unique cuisine. There is an extremely wide selection to choose from as The Portuguese, Dutch and British invaders along with the Arab, Chinese, Indian and Malay traders all threw in recipes so many years ago, sometimes even providing a fusion between cultures. Sri Lankan cuisine offers the palate mild and delicately flavoured dishes to hot and fiery ones. The dishes are flavoured with an assortment of herbs and spices, garlic, ginger, lemon grass and curry leaves. Each dish  can be experienced in most holiday resorts in Sri Lanka.

Must try Dishes:

  • Lamprais was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Dutch Burghers along with the Breudher. Lamprais has a unique flavour and a delicious aroma. It contains boiled rice usually cooked in stock, eggplant, yam, a meat curry (usually chicken or beef however vegetarian is also available), fried onion badun, a boiled egg and sometimes dhal. The final touch is wrapping the meal in a banana leaf and baking it in a low heat oven. Baking the rice in a banana leaf gives a special flavour to the rice. It is a rich, wholesome meal good enough for any occasion!
  • Kottu Roti is made from a stretchy type of bread called ‘Godamba Roti’. It is mixed with sizzling hot vegetables, egg or meat (chicken, lamb or beef) and various mouth tickling spices. It is traditionally stir fried on a heated iron sheet by cutting and mixing the shreds of Godamba Roti and mixing it with the other ingredients with two blunt metal knives. This clashing of metal on metal creates a very unique sound, and as late evening approaches the rhythm of Kottu being prepared can be heard from any small roadside restaurant in Sri Lanka. Kottu Roti is generally eaten as a takeaway dinner meal.
  • Kiribath is a traditional Sri Lankan dish which directly translates to milk rice, and is essential for any auspicious moment in a household especially on the first day of each month. It is also a very important aspect for the Sinhalese in celebrating the Sinhala and Tamil New Year when it is served alongside traditional sweets like Kevum, Kokis and Athirasam. It is prepared by cooking rice with thick creamy coconut milk and is accompanied by a tangy chili relish called Lunu-miris which is a mixture of red onions and spices. It can also be eaten with jaggery or coconut and is most often served with Bananas.
  • Pittu is a soft, fluffy mixture of ground rice and coconut. It was introduced to the Sri Lankan cuisine by the Malays and Tamils during the European colonial era and has gone through many modifications since. It is most habitually eaten as a light yet filling breakfast or dinner meal. It is prepared by steaming ground rice mixed with spices, grated coconut and water in a bamboo or steel vessel to form soft, crumbly cylinders. Pittu can be eaten with fresh coconut milk, a fiery chili relish called Lunu-miris, a chickpea curry or any other curry that hold plenty of gravy.
  • String Hoppers, also called Indi-appa is one of the most popular dishes in Sri Lankan cuisine which can be served for any meal of the day. It consists of steamed rice noodles served with savory curries especially chicken or beef. String hoppers are carefully prepared by squeezing rice flour dough through a sieve-like metal appliance to form thin delicate noodles on small woven trays. These woven trays with the noodles on them are then steamed one atop the other. The finished product is light, lacy warm noodles to be served with a spicy pol (coconut) sambol, dhal and flavorsome curry.
  • Hoppers, also known as appa, are the most popular meal in Sri Lanka most often eaten for breakfast or dinner. They appear to be wafer thin, bowl shaped pancakes made from a fermented batter of rice flour, coconut milk and a dash of palm toddy which provides a distinct sour flavour. The batter is swirled in a hemispherical pan, rather like a small, more finely curved wok. The results are crunchy on the edges with a soft and spongy center full of little holes due to the fermentation. Hoppers can be eaten with curries and various sambols, best while they are still hot and crisp. There are many other types of hoppers such as the egg hopper, which is made with an egg poached into its centre. Milk hoppers and honey hoppers (pani-appa) are a sweeter variety.
  • Rice and Curry is the typical Sri Lankan meal. It consists of boiled rice with delicious curried vegetables, fresh salads, sambols, fish or meat, pappadam and a chutney or two, all blended with a fusion of Sri Lankan spices. All dishes are brought to the table at the same time and it is the norm to take a little helping of everything and taste it against the soft, fluffy neutral rice. On special occasions yellow rice is cooked in coconut milk and delicately flavoured with spices. Turmeric is added to give the rice a bright yellow. It is garnished with cashews, raisins, and slices of hard-boiled eggs.


Sri Lanka’s climate and soil provide a paradise for the growth of a wide variety of interesting tropical fruits, differing in colour, taste, size and even fragrance! Some of them are rare and endemic to the country and play a very important role in Sri Lankan cuisine. Locals make curried fruits, eat ripe fruits after meal and also drink fresh fruit juices. It would be a pity to leave the island without tasting any of them. Some of the fruits that are available here are:

  • Banana
  • Custard apples
  • Durian
  • Guava
  • Mango
  • Mangosteen
  • Papaya
  • Passion fruit
  • Pineapple
  • Rambutan
  • Woodapple

The island is known to be a paradise of bananas and there is an astonishing variety of this fruit in abundance! A variety that is most recommended is the red sugar banana, which foreign tourists find rather unusual. Pawpaw or papaya is another fruit of a lovely colour which can be eaten for breakfast with a dash of lime or a pinch of sugar. It can be also consumed as a drink after being mashed into a puree. Juicy mangoes are known to be the most popular fruit and can be found in almost all areas of the country in many varieties. Custard apples are rich with anti oxidants and are among the local favourites.

Rambutan, mangosteen and durian are available throughout the island seasonally. They are often sold on the road sides by a line of young boys and men trying to sell to people passing by. Wood-apple is a lovely fruit with a unique fragrance and texture, which is mostly enjoyed when made into a drink and blended with coconut milk. Jackfruit is another local favourite which can be cooked into a delicious curry or consumed as a rich, creamy fruit.

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