Do Not Leave Sri Lanka Without First Trying These 10 Delicious Dishes!

sri lanka's best dishes
Sue Anne
Sue Anne 
Updated

Sri Lanka, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean: a country rich with culture, community and cuisine. People in Sri Lanka are as friendly as can be, you’ll definitely be a happy traveller here. Also, while in Sri Lanka, don’t leave before sampling some of their epic food. A result of a conglomeration of cultures, Sri Lankan food comes in an abundance of forms and flavours which continues to pleasantly surprise travellers from around the world. Here are some dishes you absolutely cannot miss!

1. Hoppers (appa or appam)

Sri Lanka-Egg hoppers
Source: Photo by user Ji-Elle used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Made with fermented rice flour and coconut batter, a ladle of this batter is fried in a small wok and swirled around to even it out and give it its iconic basket shape and structure. Soft in the middle and crispy on the outside, you can eat this tasty Sri Lankan treat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Ubiquitous throughout the country, these hoppers can vary in appearance and flavour. But my favourite is the egg hopper, locally known as Biththara appa, where an egg is cracked and cooked in the middle of the hopper batter. Served with lunu miris, a sambol (spicy paste) of onions, chilies, lemon juice and salt - this dish never fails to satisfy.

Website: Cafe On the 5th

2. Sri Lankan egg curry

Egg Curry
Source: Photo by user Choudhuryabir used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The best eggs I’ve tasted - this simple dish is fantastic. The secret to this dish is deep frying hard boiled eggs first before introducing them to the gravy. The deep frying gives these eggs a soft rubbery like texture that absorbs the gravy and curry ingredients more effectively.

Facebook: Tigri Beach Resturant

3. Curd and Treacle


If you’re a fan of natural yogurt, this is the dessert for you! Guilt free curd, called Mee Kiri, is prepared with buffalo milk. This traditional dessert is found all over Sri Lanka, although some say its best in the south. This yummy treat goes incredibly well with palm treacle (Kithul Pani). Incredibly savoury, I guarantee you’ll be asking for second helpings.

Website: Upalis

4. Lamprais

Lamprais 3
Source: Photo by Flickr user Dennis Sylvester ... used under CC0

Ruled once by the Dutch, it’s no surprise to find remaining elements of their culture in Sri Lankan food. One example of Dutch-Sri Lanka fusion is the Lamprais which comes from the combination of two Dutch words: “lump” and “rice”. A scoop of rice is placed in the middle of a banana leaf, and along with it goes meat curry, two frikkadels (Dutch-style beef balls), blachan (a shrimp paste) and a starch or vegetable (usually ash plantain or brinjals). The whole thing is wrapped up like a package and steamed. Once out, the flavour and taste of this dish will be something you’ll not forget easily.

Website: Harpo’s Colombo Fort Cafe

5. Wood apple

Wood Apple - Limonia acidissima
Source: Photo by user https://www.flick... used under CC BY 2.0

This is a strange snack that you will smell before you will see. The wood apple is a southeast Asian fruit, the size of a big guava with a hard shell and a pungent, almost blue cheese like aroma. Strange to see, strange to smell, and an acquired taste that you simply must attempt to appreciate. You can eat the wood apple directly out of its shell, but the most popular way to eat it here is in a smoothie, known as wood apple juice. The fruit is blended with jaggery and water to smoothen out its original thick dark paste like consistency. After that, this treat will have a distinct sour and sweet flavour. Enjoy!

Facebook: Shanmugas

6. Short eats

Short Eats
Source: Pixabay

These different types of small snacks are found at almost every eatery in Sri Lanka. These bites are usually spicy and stuffed with a mixture of either vegetables, fish or meat and are perfect with a hot cup of coffee or Ceylon tea. Usually, restaurants will give you an entire plate filled with these goodies and you can go crazy, trying everything and then just paying for what you eat. Definitely a fun and tasty activity!

7. Kottu

Chicken Kotthu - Food 1
Source: Photo by user Shamli071 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Unlike the wood apple, where you smell it coming, you will hear Kottu being made before you see it. Made by clanking metal on metal, the process of cooking kottu sounds just like its name. Skilled chefs sometimes create their own rhythm, singing over the rhythmic clanking of their spatula and knives on the frying sheet. Who knew slicing roti could be such an art?

Made from godamba roti with a mixture of either vegetables, meat or fish, this dish resembles chopped up noodles. (Something like char koay teow, for you Malaysians reading this). Served with spicy curry sauce to dip or drench, this is the epitome of comfort food, trust me.

Facebook: Mr. Kottu

8. Pol Sambol (coconut relish)


Also called fresh coconut relish, Pol Sambol is a blend of grated coconut, red onions, chilies, lime juice, salt and fish. Often used as a garnish or a side dish for all meals, its versatility knows no boundaries. It is especially delicious with rice and curry, pol roti (coconut roti), hot paratha and string hoppers. Heck, it even tastes great eaten on plain bread!

Website: Upalis

9. Fish Ambul Thiyal (Sour Fish Curry)

#srilankan #food #seafood #srilankanstyle #fish #fishambulthiyal #tunafish

A post shared by Uthpala eroshan (@ero_shan) on Dec 23, 2016 at 7:54pm PST


The most Sri Lankan dish here, fish Ambul Thiyal has all the elements that make it THE dish of the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. First off, it’s a fish - the meat of the island. Secondly, it’s spicy - very Sri Lankan. Third, there is coconut in it and lastly, it’s a rice and curry dish, an absolute staple! No wonder it is the most beloved dish in the country. Fresh fish, usually tuna, is cut into cubes, then sautéed with a mixture of spices including black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, pandan leaves and curry leaves. Also in the concoction, is dried goraka, a small fruit responsible for the sour taste of the fish. Best eaten with rice and a yogurt salad. Only after you’ve tasted fish Ambul Thiyal, can you then leave this beautiful country.

Website: Elephant Corridor

10. Parippu (Dhal Curry)


This is a ubiquitous Sri Lankan rice and curry. Parippu is a nutritious dish made from lentils, tomato paste, cumin, many other spices, and thickened with coconut milk giving it its rich and creamy texture. Perfect with rice or roti!

Website: Thanuska

The eat all you can challenge!

I won’t be surprised if you gain weight while in Sri Lanka as it will mean you truly enjoyed the food there, as did I. Exploring this island was an amazing experience. It leaves you stuffed with food, speechless in awe of its beauty and joyful with new found faith in humanity. Hope you’ll enjoy this country as much as I did. You’ll have a hard time saying goodbye.

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Malaysian, fun loving and always eager for a new experience, Sue Anne loves travel as much as she loves food. And they happen to go hand in hand, which is why exploring new places around the world...Read more

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