Sri Lanka is renowned for many amazing things, of which includes its delicious, spicy local food. Muslims have contributed even more and have introduced many Pakistani, Indian and Malaysian dishes to the local culture. In this edition of local culture, we shall be exploring some of the must try dishes which every tourist should taste at least once during their visit to Sri Lanka.
• Pol sambol and bread – This local specialty is made of coconut-based mixture which is referred to by “sambol” and if often eaten with bread, Indian flat bread or even rice. Local bread is often prepared in a traditional oven and is baked on either side to give it a crunchier taste. Local bread is commonly known as, “roast paan” or “roast bread” and could be found is almost any bakery or restaurant.
• Rice & curry – Sri Lankans love their rice and curry and there are those who regularly have it for all three meals of the day. Lunch hours are usually prepared mainly with rice and curry dishes in any part of the country, but you could experience different flavors from different regions of the country.
• Milk rice – Milk rice is referred to as, “kiribath” in our local language and is prepared with rice and coconut milk and has a more solid texture in comparison to regular rice and curry dishes in the country. Although its not made with sticky rice, it has similarities to sticky rice in terms of texture. This is usually eaten for breakfast and special occasions with a traditional onion and chilli sambol referred to by “lunu miris”.
• Hoppers – Hoppers are a must have for every Sri Lankan traveler and is made with a crispy thin outer layer and a thicker center. Its prepared using a batter made with rice flour and coconut milk which is then poured into a bowl shaped like a hopper with a round circular bottom. It’s often eaten with local curry or sambol and for those with a sweeter tooth, it’s could also be prepared using a bit of treacle which would give it a browner colour. Egg hoppers are also made in a similar way by having the egg broken into the center of the hopper while its being made.
• String Hoppers – Contrary to its name, string hoppers are actually not made with hoppers and is made with a soft dough of rice flour and water which is then placed into string hopper presses to make noodle like string hopper shapes. This is then steamed on a cooker over boiling water after which it could be eaten with a bit of coconut milk, sambol and/or curry of your choice.
• Pan cakes – This is a Sri Lankan delicacy for those with a sweet tooth as this is typically made with a batter of wheat flour, coconut milk, turmeric and egg which would be poured into a hot pan and tossed on either side in a circular shape. Its generally topped with freshly grated coconut, jaggery and spices. Pan cakes are often referred to as, “pani pol” and is mostly eaten for breakfast or as a tea time snack.
• Abulthiyal – This dish could be termed as one of the signature dishes of Sri Lanka and it made with tamarind (local called, goraka) which gives the dish a shelf time of around a week without refridgeration. The dish is made in a clay pot with fish and is typically served with milk rice, rice and curry or even local bread.
• Kothu – This is a dish which is made using normal “rothi” by chopping it up into small pieces with two big knives. The cutting process normally gives a clanging sound which makes it clearly visible in the restaurant when it’s being made.
• Lampraise – Normal rice and curry with some potato, brinjal curry (eggplant), pickle and cutlet wrapped up in a banana leaf and served with some meat or vegetarian curries. These are generally found mainly during lunch hours and would rarely be available in restaurants for breakfast or dinner.
• Isso wade – Pronounced as, “is soo waa day”, this is a tea time or breakfast snack which is made using gram flour, spices and a prawn or two on top to complement its name. Isso is the Sinhala word for prawn, and wade refers to the Indian snack made with gram flour and other things.
• Mallum – Mallum is the local word which basically means “mix up” and is usually made with green vegetables which have been tossed and mixed with chopped onions, chili, salt, ginger, maldive fish and coconut. Its generally eaten with rice and curry dishes.
Sri Lankans love hot and spicy food but when it comes to tea, coffee and sweets they tend to be on the sweeter side and often prefer more sugar. Therefore, we suggest that you always request beverages to be served without sugar so you can add the required quantity you need.