Tourist’s guide to cuisine of Sri Lanka – what to try on vacation

The national cuisine of Sri Lanka is distinguished by spiciness and spiciness, while it is rather difficult to call it diverse and sophisticated. Many modern Sri Lankan cooks do not add too hot condiments. Many dishes use coconut milk, a mixture of spices and sections – curry, cardamom, cloves, cumin, cinnamon, coriander.

National cuisine of Sri Lanka

Features of national Sri Lankan cuisine

The culinary traditions of Sri Lanka’s national cuisine are very similar to those of Asian cuisine. The traditional menu is dominated by vegetables, fish, seafood and, of course, rice with a lot of seasonings.

Culinary preferences of the Sri Lankans formed under the influence of Indian cuisine. The main thing that combines these two cuisines is a large number of curries, it is prepared from various combinations of spices. For different dishes, curry is prepared according to an individual recipe, using certain seasonings.

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Interesting fact! In order for the dish to acquire a unique, bright aroma, the spices are fried separately in vegetable oil, after which other ingredients are added.

The national cuisine of Sri Lanka is much like Indian, but there is one important difference between them. Products for Indian dishes are heat treatable, and on the island they prefer to preserve the natural taste and benefits of the ingredients.

Vegetarian cottu

On the territory of Sri Lanka for a long period the British, Dutch, Portuguese dominated, which undoubtedly influenced the national culinary traditions.

Sri Lankan cuisine will appeal to fans of vegetarian dishes. There is practically no meat in the national menu, most often Sri Lankans eat chicken.

Interesting fact! The cow in Sri Lanka is a sacred animal, so the locals do not eat beef, however, tourists will prepare a dish of any kind of meat. The exception is Muslim institutions with halal food – they do not serve beef here.

Sri Lanka - a paradise for lovers of fish and seafood

Sri Lanka is a paradise for lovers of fish and seafood. Most delicacies are presented in coastal regions. The main product is tuna, they love fish for its meatiness, they sell it quite inexpensively. In the restaurant you can try different types of shrimp, lobster, crabs. The freshest and seafood can be bought in the morning markets, which open at 4 in the morning and close at 9 in the morning.

Good to know! A full meal of tuna, vegetable salad and drinks for two costs about $ 15, lobster $ 14, and 6-7 pieces of king prawns and a portion of rice will cost $ 9.

The main dish of Sri Lanka is rice, more than 15 varieties are grown in the country, and they are prepared in a variety of ways. The most popular treat is curry rice.

It is important! Many local restaurants speculate on this dish – they require payment for each seasoning separately. As a result, the cost reaches 800 rupees, and in a small institution, rice with curry can be tasted for only 100 rupees.


The second most popular national product is coconut. In the national cuisine of Sri Lanka, treats are made from the pulp of nut, coconut milk, coconut oil and even palm nectar are used. If you want to try an exotic delicious fruit, choose a fruit with orange pulp.

Plant foods are also common in Sri Lanka’s national cuisine. Vacationers are offered a lot of greens, there are traditional dill and parsley, you can also try exotic bamboo shoots, palm inflorescences, algae.

Parrot cakes

Locals love baking, bread is very tasty, you should definitely try the muffins of parot – they are served separately and with various fillings.

Dairy products are presented on the island – milk with chocolate and fruits, cheese, yoghurts, Kurd.

If you like fruit, the cuisine of Sri Lanka will delight you with a huge variety of dishes from bananas, mangoes, durian, avocados, pomelo, wooden apple, tamarine, passion fruit, carambola.

Good to know! The cheapest fruits are presented in roadside stalls.

What to try in Sri Lanka

1. Curry
Seasoning curry

An integral part of Sri Lankan cuisine – curry – is a mixture of spices (black peppers and chili, mustard, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, garlic and leaves of a curry plant).

Curry Dishes:

  • with fish and rice;
  • with fish in sauce – the fish is fried with onions and banana pepper, then stewed in sweet and sour sauce, better to try with fried rice;
  • Lentil Curry
  • with lentils – lentils stewed in coconut milk with a different set of spices;
  • jackfruit curry – pieces of fruit seasoned with spices;
  • beetroot – the vegetable is chopped and stewed in a mixture of seasonings, served with a side dish of rice;
  • eggplant – a multi-component dish, prepared from eggplant, onions, fish, coconut milk and a bouquet of spices;
  • from squid or shrimp.
2. Cottu
Cottu Street Dish

Incredibly tasty street food, like a hamburger. Cotta is prepared from Sri Lankan bread, meat, vegetables, spices. The dish is prepared before your eyes, so you can safely try it.

Varieties of Cottu:

  • egg – a vegetarian dish, it is prepared from vegetables with the addition of eggs;
  • cheese cottu – it is impossible to travel in Sri Lanka and not try this amazing dish resembling a cheeseburger.
3. Roti

The dish cannot be called the most popular. However, if you are lucky enough to try a stuffed cake, the treat will surely be any. Roti in taste is no different from Mexican chorizo.

Roti lankian

Interesting fact! Tourists are offered to try roti with different fillings.

4. Hoppers or appa
Hoppers or appa

Another iconic dish to try while traveling in Sri Lanka. Hoppers – a pancake made from rice flour, coconut milk and palm wine. Fry the dough in a wok, so the pancake is thick in the middle, and thin on the edge.

It is important! The dish is best tasted with fried eggs, it is fried and laid out in the center of the pancake. Instead of eggs, the pancake is complemented with sweet coconut.

5. Tosai

A national dish of lentils, shallots, curry and fried in sesame oil, served with flesh of coconut.

A variety of Tosai dishes are small patties made from rice flour, salt, sugar and yeast, seasoned with hot sauce.

6. Sambol

Exotic dish of coconut pulp, chili pepper, lime and red onion. It is better to try the treat with a roti cake or rice.

Dish Sambol
7. Fried Rice

Many Sri Lankan national dishes consist of fried rice. Addition to it is chicken, vegetables, egg or seafood. It is cooked in a wok and you can try it right on the street.

Fried rice
8. Kiribati

An amazing dish, you can try it in many local restaurants. Kiribati is prepared from white rice and coconut milk, seasoned with spices, onions, lemon. You can also order sweet Kiribati – with coconut flakes and palm honey.

National Sri Lankan drinks

The main drink on the island is tea.

The main drink on the island, of course, is tea. Here whole tea plantations are grown, raw materials are collected manually. The assortment has clean tea blends, with pieces of fruit and herbs. The most popular tea recipe is with milk.

Coconut milk is very popular, it can be purchased directly in a nut and drunk from a straw. In addition to coconut milk, vacationers are offered a large number of freshly squeezed juices from a wide variety of fruits.

Local Lion beer

Local Lion beer is quite tasty, as it is prepared according to the traditional recipe, it is sold at 400 rupees in a cafe, a bottle costs 260 rupees in a store. The island has a system by which residents give a bottle and buy beer at a discount.

Relaxing at the resort, you should definitely try Ginger Beer. This is not beer at all, as indicated in the name, but ginger-based lemonade. Of course, you should not get carried away with a drink if you take care of your figure.

Rum is popular in Sri Lanka, most often brought as a souvenir red rum Calypso. The drink is sweet enough, it is prepared from sugar cane. The cost in stores is about 1,600 rupees. You can try several varieties of red rum – Silver and Gold, they differ in aging.

The cuisine of Sri Lanka, of course, differs from the traditional European, and this attracts tourists. Each dish is a unique bouquet of spices, they give the exotic taste and aroma of Sri Lankan treats.

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