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Complete Guide: 24 Must Try Delicious Food to Taste while Traveling in Sri Lanka

Updated on November 19, 2014

There are many articles that cover what you need to eat in Sri Lanka while many of those articles show just a glimpse of delicious food in Sri Lanka.

The aim of this article is to give a complete insight into the most delicious food in Sri Lanka and where those are best eaten at in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan Rice & Curry
Sri Lankan Rice & Curry

1. Rice & Curry

Rice and curry is the staple food in Sri Lanka. Some have it for all 3 main meals and loves it all the time. At least they eat it once a day at a minimum. So you should not miss their staple food when you visit the country. Rice and curry is available everywhere ranging from home cooked meals, small shops to 5 star hotels. Ideally it has red or white rice, some curries such as Dhal curry cooked in coconut milk, green leaves cooked with scraped coconut flesh, papadam and fish, chicken, shrimp, calamari or egg. You need to combine a little from everything and make a small ball shape and put it into your mouth. Eating using your hands gives a better taste than using fork or spoon.

Price: You can buy rice and curry packet for about 200 Sri Lankan rupees from a small shop. If you need to enjoy it in a good scale head to Raja bojun(http://www.rajabojun.lk) for their Sri Lankan lunch buffet or Nuga Gama at Cinnamon grand hotel(http://www.cinnamonhotels.com/dining.php?hotel=3251&dine=7396).

If you are a vegetarian, try the Sri Lankan rice and curry at Paradise café next to Sambudda Jayanthi mandiraya, Colombo 04.

Tip: You might feel bit spicy if you are not used to Sri Lankan curry taste, the trick is reduce the amount of curry that you use in a single mouthful and increase the amount of rice you combine until you get used to it. Sometimes you can ask the waiter to put less chilles.

Se food fresh and tasty
Se food fresh and tasty
Raw sea food
Raw sea food | Source

2. Sea Food

Sea food is abundance in Sri Lanka. You can find fresh shrimp, calamari, fish, squid everywhere you eat. They are prepared in many different ways and all of those dishes are scrumptious. Sea food is bit expensive compared to Sri Lankan prices but cheap when comparing to other countries. Mouthwatering grilled jumbo prawns and batter fried calamari are heavenly.

Sea food is great at 5 star hotels such as Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand. Also you can eat sea food at any Chinese restaurants at a low price. If you like to eat the sea food in Japanese style, Naniyori at Nawala is reasonably priced and fresh.

Healthy Fruits
Healthy Fruits

3. Tropical Fruits

Sri Lanka is filled with a vast variety of tropical fruits. The best place to see the local fruits is to go for a local market. Some fruits are seasonal while some are throughout the year. There are more than 10 varieties of bananas available in Sri Lanka. The records say there are 200 odd fruits types are available in Sri Lanka.

Go to a local market and buy a basket full of fruits and savor and they will make you healthy, hydrated in natural way. If you are not sure how to eat and what to eat ask for help. Sri Lankans would love to help you. Avoid drinking soda, caffeine and always drink fruit juices as they are tasty and also healthy.

String Hoppers
String Hoppers | Source

4. String Hoppers with Kiri Hodi, Chicken curry & Pol Sambol

String hoppers are noodle like item prepared with rice flour and formed in to a circle and steam it to the perfection. String hoppers are tasty and everyone loves it. String hoppers are available everywhere during breakfast and dinner.

One person on average eats about 15 – 25 string hoppers. There are red string hoppers made of red rice and white from white rice.

Making Hoppers
Making Hoppers

5. Hoppers & Egg Hoppers

Hoppers are made from rice flour and thick creamy coconut milk. The batter is fermented with toddy or yeast for 6 hours and makes soft healthy hoppers which are amazingly soft in the middle and crispy at the edges. Goes very well with Chile sambal, Chicken curry or fish curry. Apart from plain hoppers and egg hoppers you can experience sweet varieties such as honey hoppers, milk hoppers. This type of hoppers is only in Sri Lanka. You can try these anywhere in Sri Lanka. Cost you only about 15- 20 Sri Lankan rupees for a hopper.

Hopper is served as a fusion dish at an upscale restaurant called Kama suthra in Colombo which is owned by renown foodie and entrepreneur Darshan Munidasa and international beauty queen model Jaqueline Ferdinandez. However the taste would be the same of hoppers everywhere and it’s up to you to decide where you would like to have hoppers.

Koththu making
Koththu making

6. Koththu

Koththu is a Sri Lankan dish made from a roti called Godhamba roti and originated in Batticaloa. The roti is mixed with vegetables, egg, and/or meat, and spices. Koththu can be found in almost all parts of Sri Lanka and is generally eaten for dinner. The most common varieties of koththu are chicken, egg and vegetable koththu available for vegetarians.

Cheese koththu has recently been introduced and becoming more popular.

The making of Koththu is interesting itself. It is made on a high heated iron board with 2 blunt metal pieces. The cutting up and mixing of the koththu is done using two blunt metal blades. This clashing of metal on metal creates a very distinctive sound.

CNN reported Koththu as one of the best foods to try in Sri Lanka.

Buffalo Curd and Treacle
Buffalo Curd and Treacle

7. Buffalo curd and Treacle

Buffalo curd also called as “Mee Kiri” in native language is a traditional and nutritious dairy product prepared from buffalo milk and it is popular throughout southern part of Sri Lanka. Often curd is served with treacle or sugar. This is eaten as a dessert and it is filling. This is more like yougurt and healthy. Mostly clay pots are used as packaging material for Buffalo curd. Buffalo curd is thick and smooth, creamy and just simply divine.

Tasty King Coconut
Tasty King Coconut

8. King Coconut

King coconut is called as “Thembili” in Sri Lanka. King coconut juice is called the life-giving fluid.

The water of the king coconut is probably the most nutritious and wholesome drink that nature has provided for people living in tropical countries such as Sri Lanka. It tastes sweeter than the usual coconut water.

It is commonly used Sri Lankan traditional remedy for many ailments relating to impurities in the system. It is naturally sterile and is therefore, a good substitute for saline. Coconut water is said to be an ideal drink to cure kidney disorders and dissolve kidney stones. Those suffering from difficulty in urination (stranguria), frequent urination (polyuria) and other urinary ailments could get relief by drinking coconut water.

The king coconut consists of bioactive enzymes such as acid phosphatase, catalase, dehydrogenase, diastase, peroxidase and RNA-polymerases which help in digestion and metabolism.

Despite the light consistency, its water has a much better composition of minerals such as calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc than some fruits such as oranges. King coconut water is also a very good source of B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pyridoxine and folates. These vitamins are essential to the human body which needs to replenish them from external sources.” – Coconut Research Institute, Sri Lanka.

Due to all this goodness there is a high demand for king coconuts and they are exported in millions to other countries.

So why not drink king coconuts which are available on the roadside just for about 50 Sri Lankan rupees; less than what you spend for a bottle of water.

Sri Lankan Sweetmeets
Sri Lankan Sweetmeets

9. Kavum, Sri Lankan milk toffee & Other Sweet meets

Sri Lankan sweet meats are made during special events and festive seasons. Kavum also known as oil cakes is made from treacle and rice flour cooked in deep fried oil and its shape and taste is unique. Other than Kavum, there are many other sweets such as Kokis, Aasmi, Milk toffee and Aluwa which are scrumptious for your sweet tooth.

Milk Rice & Katta Sambol
Milk Rice & Katta Sambol | Source

10. Milk Rice with Katta Sambol

Milk rice is cooked for celebrations such as birthdays or other special days. Milk rice is favorite of any age. The rice is cooked in coconut milk and cut into shapes and eaten with chille sambol, sour fish and chicken curry. Milk rice, a creamy mouthwatering dish and mostly eaten as breakfast. Rather than eating from a shop try to eat at a local home as they are much tastier than in shops with extra coconut milk.

Polos slow cooked
Polos slow cooked

11. Sri Lankan Polos Curry (Tender Jack slow cooked)

Jackfruit is used in a variety of ways in Sri Lanka. It is commonly used as a staple food (alternative to rice). The tender fruit known as polos is made into a curry. Polos is very rich in iron, high in minerals. Polos curry has a delightful taste and can be eaten with rice, bread, roti, string hoppers, hoppers, milk rice or Naan.

Chicken Curry Sri Lankan way
Chicken Curry Sri Lankan way

12. Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

Sri Lankan chicken curry is well known for their bright colours, spicy aroma, vibrant flavours & best of all for their unique taste.

It goes well with rice, bread, naan, string hoppers or even hoppers. This is available in any eating place.

Jaffna style Crab curry
Jaffna style Crab curry

13. Sri Lankan Jaffna Crab curry

Jaffna is famous for its signature style crab curry. Spicy yet capable of making food connoisseurs fell in love with it, the Jaffna Style Crab Curry is simply a heavenly treat. Originated in the Northern parts of the island where there’s an ample supply of Fresh Sea Crab all year-round.

While you are traveling around Trincomalee taste this heavenly dish. If you are not planning to visit Trincomalee still this is available some of the restaurants in Colombo too.

Batter Fried Cuttle Fish
Batter Fried Cuttle Fish

14. Hot Butter Cuttle fish/Calamari

Butter fried Cuttle fish is a personal favorite of every sea food lover. It can’t go wrong anywhere and a foolproof dish. This can be served with steamed jasmine rice or egg fried rice. This is available in almost every Chinese food restaurants. Chinese dragon restaurant at Colombo 04 or Steamboat restaurants are recommended places.

Prawn Curry
Prawn Curry

15. Grilled Jumbo Prawns & Prawn curry (Shrimp curry)

This is great with rice, bread, naan, hoppers, string hoppers, roti, naan, milk rice or simply anything. This is very easy to make and juicy shrimps are mouthwatering.

The shrimp in Sri Lanka are fresh and tastes way better than frozen ones.

Ambul Thiyal Fish
Ambul Thiyal Fish

16. Fish Ambul Thiyal (Sour black fish curry)

Ambul Thiyal is a popular dried fish curry with a sour taste made in many homes in Sri Lanka. The dish can be stored for days at room temperature without getting spoilt.

Goraka (Garcinia gummi-gutta) is the ingredient which helps to preserve the fish. It’s also responsible for the sour flavor in the dish. This is tasty with milk rice or steamed rice with coconut sambol.

17. Sri Lankan Omlette

Eggs are eaten everywhere in the world. There are so many ways to eat eggs. However Sri Lankan eats the eggs in a healthier and tastier way. And of course looks nicer too than eating the usual way that you have eaten before.

This is super easy and super delicious. So why not learn by yourself just looking at this video. Yes, even the7 year old can do it so why not you. You can eat it any of the buffets in the hotels and you can choose the ingredients you like.

CrispRoot Cassava Chips, Sea Salt Mist, 5-Ounce Bags (Pack of 12)
CrispRoot Cassava Chips, Sea Salt Mist, 5-Ounce Bags (Pack of 12)

You won’t be able to travel to Sri Lanka any sooner, still want to taste cassava chips. Cassava chips taste great simply sprinkled with salt, but even better if served with salsa or a dip.

 

18. Deep Fried Casava(Manioc) chips

This is not an origin of Sri Lanka. I think it is a latin dish as Casava is eaten plenty and considered a main source of carbohydrates there than in Sri Lanka where our main source is rice.

However munching some cassava or manioc chips are a snack that you cannot stop eating after starting. It is available in most of the road side hawker shops and a packet would cost you about 100 Sri Lankan Rupees. There is an old saying that not yet scientifically proven which says cassava kills cancer cells and better than chemotherapy as it kills both cancer cells and good cells.


Coconut(Pol) Roti
Coconut(Pol) Roti | Source

19. Coconut roti(Pol Roti) and katta sambol

Coconut roti is a flat cake made out of flour and coconut mixed together and roasted on an iron thawa. Hot coconut roti goes very well with a well-seasoned katta sambol. A Sri Lankan tea after such a meal is heavenly.

I have tasted the best coconut roti and katta sambol on a road side shop somewhere in Kandy road. You can fill your stomach just under 100 Sri Lankan rupees (Less than a 1 US$). How amazing is that.

Gotukola Sambol
Gotukola Sambol

20. Gotukola Salad

Gotukola (Centella asiatica) has many health benefits. Sri Lankans usually eat 1 raw salad with their rice and curry. Gotukola is one of those salads that make a perfect rice and curry.

It is a delicious and healthy dish from Sri Lanka. Gotukola is used for traditional Ayurveda medicine. It is good for memory, brain, eyes, hair, blood vessels and skin. You will be amazed to read the full benefits of Gotukola.

Source

21. Ceylon Tea with ginger and sugar

There is no need to mention that the Sri Lankan tea is the best in the world. Of course there is blended tea and low grade tea available at certain places. To try the best tea get into a local road side shop and ask for a plain tea.

If not the best tea with a royal service can be obtained at the Dilmah tea lounge in Colombo. There is Dilmah tea lounge at chatham street Colombo 01 or at the Independence arcade in Colombo 07 and you will be shocked to see what wonders tea can make. This is something I recommend totally.

Black Pork Curry
Black Pork Curry

22. Black Pork Curry

Those who have tried the Sri Lankan black pork curry has to say only one thing.

“One of the best pork curry I've ever tasted. Meat is tender, curry is tasty & aromatic. It is the best way pork should be eaten here again”.

Lamprice
Lamprice | Source

23.Lamprice

The original recipe of this Sri Lankan Dutch Burgher delicacy has developed through many generations. The authentic Lamprais consists of Lamprais Curry, Frikkadels, Brinjal Paella, Chili & Onion Salad, Ash Plantain Fries, Deep fried boiled Egg and of course, the Rice all neatly wrapped in a banana leaf.

Wrapping in a banana leaf while the food is hot gives a nice aroma and a divine taste to the rice.

Eat at Fab, Dutch Burger union or Green Cabin. Cost you about 250- 400 Sri Lankan rupees. And it is a very flavorful lunch.

Cashew Nuts
Cashew Nuts

24. Roasted Cashew Nuts

Cashew trees are abandoned in Sri Lanka. However the price of cashew nuts are not so cheap for Sri Lankan wallet as majority is exported due to the high demand from other countries. There is no wonder regarding the high demand from all over the world of this healthy, super delicious snack. The problem with roasted cashew nuts is that, once you eat you will need to eat more and more.

Cashews are a good source of antioxidants. Alkyl phenols, in particular, are abundant in cashews. Cashews are also a source of dietary trace minerals such as copper, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus.

You can buy from cashew shops and the prices are bit lower than super markets. If you want to buy in bulk head over the Royal cashew shops at Kohuwala or Borella as they have vacuum packed bags at lesser prices. In fact roasted cashew is an ideal gift to give your loved ones.

If you find anything else that made you wonderful please add your likings as well for future Sri Lanka travelers.

Share with your friends who will be coming to Sri Lanka. They will thank you back. (May be they will bring you a packet of cashew if you are lucky)

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    • profile image

      Suni 2 years ago

      What a great list this is.. awesome.. If i come to Sri Lanka I will get a print of this and tick them all.. :)

    • Thish profile image
      Author

      Thish 2 years ago

      Of course Suni. Sri Lanka is very famous for its delicious food and travelers who come here love the food. I am more than happy to help anyone who wants to know more about these delicacies.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Your food list sounds so interesting and mouth watering!

      I think they are quite similar to Indian food and ingredients, with few variations here and there. Would love to try some of these.

      The golden coconut looks amazing.

      Thanks for sharing and thanks for the follow as well!

    • Thish profile image
      Author

      Thish 2 years ago

      Thanks ChitrangadaSharan for your lovely comment. I think some spices are similar in both countries and Sri Lankans use lot of coconut milk in their food and use less oil.

      Yes the king coconuts are nutritious, healthy and tasty. You are so close to Sri Lanka. Make a trip one day here.

    • profile image

      Devina 2 years ago

      Hello I am from Belgium and working for a Charity org. Coming down to Sri Lanka in Jan 2015. Looking forward to taste all these. Thanks Bunch!!!!

    • Thish profile image
      Author

      Thish 2 years ago

      @Devina, I am sure you will love all these. If you find anything else apart from the list please add them her too. Good luck with a memorable trip.

    • profile image

      cashew fan 2 years ago

      can you update this article " complete guide to most delicious food in sri lanka with the prices of cashew and the weight of those packets? how long can we keep them? thanks.

    • Thish profile image
      Author

      Thish 2 years ago

      The normal cashew 500 g- is about 900 LKR - 1300 LKR

      The roasted cashew 500 g - is about 1200- 1800 LKR.

      It is expensive but its really worth the price for the nutritious value and taste.

    • profile image

      ish 2 years ago

      A good list which includes all our tastes. Omg where is bread+dhal+chicken curry

    • profile image

      Vinitha 2 years ago

      I wish if i can get this in a printer format as I am going to Shri Lanka next month. Very useful.

    • Thish profile image
      Author

      Thish 2 years ago

      Hi, You can find wifi most of the places in Sri Lanka and hope you can acess this article. Thanks for your comment and glad to hear this was useful.

    • profile image

      traveling feet 2 years ago

      I tried almost evrything in this article.. TASTY!!!!!!!!!!!

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