Culinary Tour Of Sri Lanka – 6 Things You Must Try
Sri Lanka is a mishmash of colours, sounds, and tastes and nowhere is this more apparent than in the local cuisine. Although the island is home to a variety of different cultures and ethnic groups, they all come together on the plate. Here are some of the delicacies you must-try during your travels.
A hallmark of Sri Lanka’s Dutch-Burgher community, Lamprais is a dish that’s close to the hearts of all Sri Lankans. Although there’s nothing ‘Dutch’ about this dish, this community came up with this delicious dish. Lamprais consists of yellow rice, a meat curry, battu moju (an aubergine pickle), a cutlet (deep-fried ball of minced fish and spices) and a sambol. All these components are first cooked separately, the ingredients are then wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed with a variety of aromatics. There are plenty of places that claim to make the best Lamprais but try the one at the Dutch-Burgher Union in Colombo, the most authentic.
Kiribath & Lunu Miris
Consumed for breakfast on special or auspicious occasions like Sinhala and Tamil New Year, Kiribath is rice cooked in coconut milk which gives it a thick and creamy texture- similar to risotto! Nowadays, Kiribath has become a staple breakfast food and usually eaten with Lunu Miris on the side, a sambol made of chillies, onions and lime juice. The origins of Kiribath aren’t clear, but it’s said that it was offered to the Buddha when he was meditating under the bodhi tree after attaining Enlightenment and thereby ending his six years of asceticism. Try this traditional delicacy while you’re in Anuradhapura or in other parts of the Cultural Triangle.
Sri Lanka boasts the best and the freshest seafood in the world, especially crabs and prawns, just last year the island exported about $25 million of crab! Crab curry may not be an everyday curry, although the meat is readily available, instead, crab curry is synonymous with Sundays – a big, long, lazy, Sunday lunch with the family. Each region on the island has its own version of this curry, but Jaffna crab curry is by far the most popular. Jaffna crab curry is made in the delicious quintessential Tamil-style curry and best enjoyed with a plate of plain white rice- which you’ll definitely need to accompany the fiery red crab.
Hoppers (Appa or Appam)
As Madhur Jaffrey put it, a hopper is the lovechild of a crepe and a crumpet. It’s shaped like an inverted dome and if you order an egg hopper, the egg will be right in the centre of this dome. This is another popular breakfast dish and goes down well with a traditional Sri Lankan chicken curry. Try the breakfast hoppers at Jetwing Beach Negombo for the crispiest, lightest, most delicious hoppers you’ll have!
String Hoppers (Indiappa or Indiappam)
String Hoppers are rice flour noodles fashioned into a flat disc shape and served with a variety of curries. String Hoppers have a long and rich history which dates back to the 1st century AD, but they have now become a dinner staple in Sri Lankan households. These delicious ‘noodles’ are generally served with pol sambol (grated coconut combined with chillies, shallots and lime juice), meat curry and either dhal or potato curry. Try this during your travels around the island, Arugam Bay and the east coast have their own version- serving String Hoppers with coconut milk and sugar.
Finally, Kottu Roti or Kottu is the most popular of all Sri Lankan dishes. The best street food to have wherever you go in Sri Lanka, each vendor will add their own touch to this dish. Kottu is made up of shredded godamba roti (flat crispy flatbread) which is stir-fried with some vegetables before being piled high on a plate and served with a meat curry. There aren’t a lot of things that spark joy in Sri Lankans the way Kottu does; it’s everything from a quick dinner at home, comfort food on a rainy night or a late-night bite after a night out. If there’s one thing you must try it’s a Kottu from a roadside restaurant on the streets of Sri Lanka!