After spending two weeks exploring Sri Lanka it’s hard not to indulge in the culture and subliminal food, which you will notice are made with fresh ingredients. One of the main ingredients used in various dishes was coconut and this often would reduce the heat factor in curries or anything containing chillies which is great for those that aren’t keen on hot foods. Out of all the trips I did, the food in Sri Lanka was some of the best.
A typical lunch or dinner would come with 3-5 different curries and at times you don’t know where you are putting it, but it’s hard to turn away such amazing grub. Below are some of my favourite dishes I encountered.
Sri Lankan’s love this dish so much they eat dhal for breakfast lunch and dinner. Our tour leader would encourage us to eat this as it was a healthy dish packed with protein and fiber with heaps of lentils, coconut milk, red onion, garlic, tomato and spices.
Ingredients for 8 portions.
- ½ lb. dhal
- 2 green chillies
- 1 ¼ oz. onions
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons of salt
- 1 pint of coconut milk
- 2 dessertspoons of oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 5 – 6 dry chillies
- 2 sprigs of curry leaves
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Clean and wash the dhal then slice the onions.
- Place in a pan with ½ the curry leaves, chillies and ½ oz. of sliced onions, turmeric and ¾ of the coconut milk and cook until done. Stir occasionally.
- Add the salt, stir and remove dhal to another container.
- Heat the oil till very hot and add the remaining curry leaves, sliced onions, dry chillies cut up roughly, mustard and crushed garlic. Keep stirring till onions are golden brown and mustard crackles.
- Add the dhal, Stir. Add the first remaining ¼ pint of coconut milk and bring to boil then remove from hob.
- Serve with rice.
These tasty breakfast treats are found all over Sri Lanka. The base is a thin pancake which is made with coconut milk and palm wine (toddy) cooked in a wok and made until it’s crispy around the edges. They can be eaten plain but I noticed people would ask for a fried egg to be placed in the centre.
This appeared all over Sri Lanka, found in shops, bakeries & restaurants. From what I gathered these were a quick snack and often came in various flavours like chicken, veg, egg and coconut. They are made using batter on a flattop griddle until they become a flat bread which then is wrapped around the specific filling and fried.
This dish was by far my favourite and one I will make back home as it’s really simple and would be great for parties. It usually is used as a condiment to accompany your rice and curry but I could eat this on its own. Made with shredded coconut, red onion, chillies, lime and salt the result tastes almost like salsa with a slight kick of the chillies but instantly reduced with the lime and coconut.
Hands down my favourite breakfast in Sri Lanka. It is made from steamed rice noodles molded into flat spirals and served with coconut sambol and Dhal.
It had been a busy day of hiking through Hortons Plains and completing a mesmerizing 2.5 hr train journey to Ella. So as a group we were eager to venture out and find something different to what we had previously eaten. This is where we found Kottu Roti in a restaurant where the chef is on display to all the customers and he puts on a spectacle each time Kottu Roti is made. You can watch and hear him chopping and mixing the dish while it’s being created.It is like the regular roti but everything is diced with flatbread and your chosen filling.
This was one of the spicier meals I had eaten. You can get all kinds of things “devilled” in Sri Lanka. The meat is usually grilled with a marinade – a spicy tangy sauce similar to a Caribbean bbq, or spicy sweet & sour. A few beers were needed when eating this to cool my mouth off.
Absolutely recommend anyone visiting Sri Lanka to try this! It was found in many of our buffet banquets and often was the dish being refilled more than any other. Roasted pumpkin chunks served in a spicy/sweet coconut milk sauce with loads of cinnamon.
This was a delightful dessert we had after a meal, usually accompanied with honey or treacle. It was made using buffalo milk & flavours I thought similar to Greek yoghurt but like a blancmange. The curd is made in earthenware pots and is pro biotic in nature so never makes you sick.
If this has whet your appetite for an adventure in Sri Lanka you can find all of our tours here.
Kris is a designer at Tucan Travel. He has travelled independently and on group tours in North America, Australia, Sri Lanka, Peru and Europe.