Foods from Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan foods showcase a delightful fusion of flavors and cultural influences. The cuisine is known for its generous use of aromatic spices, coconut, and a wide variety of tropical fruits and vegetables. From spicy curries to savory snacks and sweet desserts, Sri Lankan foods offer a mouthwatering and diverse culinary experience.
What is the history of Sri Lankan cuisine?
Traditional Sri Lankan food originated from a blend of influences over the centuries. The cuisine’s foundation lies in native ingredients like rice, coconut, and spices. The island’s historical connections with India, China, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Britain introduced new flavors and cooking techniques to the local food culture. The spice trade played a crucial role, bringing in aromatic spices that now define Sri Lankan curries and dishes. Ayurvedic practices also influenced the use of medicinal herbs and spices for their health benefits. Throughout history, local communities refined recipes, adapting and incorporating elements from different cultures, resulting in the diverse and flavorful array of traditional Sri Lankan foods enjoyed today.
01. Rice & Curry
Rice and curry is a quintessential Sri Lankan dish, comprising steamed rice served with an assortment of flavorful curries. The curries feature a variety of ingredients such as vegetables, meat, or fish, cooked with a blend of aromatic spices, coconut milk, and tamarind for a unique taste. It is a staple in Sri Lankan cuisine, reflecting the country’s rich cultural heritage and love for combining diverse flavors in a harmonious meal.
02. Sri Lankan Dhal Curry (Parippu)
Sri Lankan dhal curry is a popular and comforting dish made from red lentils cooked with aromatic spices, onions, garlic, and coconut milk. It is a staple in Sri Lankan cuisine and is often served with rice or roti. The creamy texture and rich flavors make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
02. Fish Ambul Thiyal (Sour Fish Curry)
This peppery fish dish is a traditional delicacy from Southern Sri Lanka, originally created as a means of fish preservation. It involves sautéing cubed fish, typically tuna, in a medley of spices like black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, pandan leaves, and curry leaves. The key element is dried goraka, a tamarind-like fruit that imparts a unique tangy flavor to the fish. Simmered with a small amount of water, the spice mixture coats each fish cube, resulting in a delectable dry curry. It’s a flavorful and cherished dish in Sri Lankan cuisine.
03. Polos (Young Jackfruit Curry)
Jackfruit is a beloved fruit in Sri Lanka, enjoyed in both unripe and ripe forms. The young green jackfruit, known as “polos,” is sliced and boiled until tender, then cooked with a flavorful blend of onions, garlic, ginger, and spices like mustard seeds, turmeric, chili powder, curry powder, and pandan leaves. Towards the end of cooking, coconut milk is added, creating a creamy and aromatic curry, leaving the jackfruit cubes bursting with delightful flavors.
Sinhala Achcharu is a traditional Sri Lankan pickled vegetable dish. It is a delightful mixture of various vegetables, usually including carrots, green beans, onions, and sometimes mango or pineapple. The vegetables are cut into small pieces and soaked in a flavorful marinade, which typically consists of vinegar, chili powder, mustard seeds, garlic, ginger, and sugar. This concoction infuses the achcharu with a blend of sweet, spicy, and tangy flavors. Sinhala Achcharu is commonly served as a side dish or relish alongside main meals, adding a burst of taste to Sri Lankan cuisine.
05.Pol Sambola (spicy coconut garnish)
Pol Sambol is a beloved traditional Sri Lankan food made by combining grated coconut, finely chopped red onions, spicy chili peppers, and an assortment of aromatic spices. This condiment is often used as a delectable topping for rice and curry dishes, infusing them with a fiery and flavorful twist. The traditional method involves grinding the ingredients together using a mortar and pestle, which releases the full essence of the spices, resulting in a smooth and paste-like texture. Its versatility makes it a popular choice to elevate the taste and add a delightful heat to various Sri Lankan dishes.
06.Gotu kola sambol (pennywort salad)
Gotu kola sambol is a cherished traditional Sri Lankan condiment crafted from gotu kola, a leafy green vegetable. The gotu kola leaves are ground together with ingredients like chilies, onions, and coconut, resulting in a zesty and aromatic paste. Frequently used as a topping for rice and curry dishes, it imparts a spicy and fragrant burst of flavor to the meal. This popular Sri Lankan condiment is a delightful accompaniment to traditional dishes and is cherished for its unique taste and cultural significance.
07.Hathmaluwa (Seven Vegetables Curry)
Hathmaluwa, also known as Seven Vegetables Curry, is a traditional Sri Lankan dish. It features a flavorful medley of seven different vegetables cooked together with an aromatic blend of spices and coconut milk. The exact vegetables may vary but typically include pumpkin, carrots, beans, potatoes, ash gourd, drumstick, and spinach. This hearty and nutritious curry is a popular choice in Sri Lanka, enjoyed with rice and other accompaniments as a wholesome and satisfying meal.
08. Seeni Sambal
Seeni Sambol is a traditional food in Sri Lanka, known for its sweet and spicy flavors. It is made from caramelized onions, cooked with a blend of spices, chili, tamarind, and sometimes dried Maldive fish for added depth. This condiment is often used as a spread or accompaniment to various dishes like bread, rice, and roti. Seeni Sambol’s unique combination of sweet and spicy tastes makes it a favorite among Sri Lankans, adding a delightful twist to their meals.
Lamprais is a distinctive and labor-intensive savoury delicacy unique to Sri Lanka, commonly served for Sunday lunch. The authentic recipe includes Dutch-style meatballs known as frikkadels, a delectable three-meat curry with aromatic spices like cinnamon and cardamom, and seeni sambol. These ingredients are mixed with rice cooked in a spicy stock, then wrapped in a banana leaf parcel and slowly oven-baked. This elaborate dish is a highlight of traditional Sri Lankan cuisine and definitely worth experiencing for its rich and complex flavors.
10.Eggplant / Brinjals Pickle(Wambatu Moju)
Wambatu Moju, a candied eggplant (brinjals) pickle, is a delightful Sri Lankan dish often served with rice and curries. To prepare it, eggplant strips are deep-fried and then caramelized with sugar, vinegar, red onions, green chilies, mustard seeds, chili powder, and a touch of ground turmeric until the color darkens. The result is a taste sensation with soft, juicy eggplant that melts in your mouth, leaving behind a delightful combination of slightly sweet, sour, and salty flavors on the palate.
11.Chicken curry(Kukul mas curry)
Kukul Mas Curry, also known as chicken curry, is a beloved traditional Sri Lankan dish prepared with chicken, coconut milk, and a blend of spices. The chicken is typically marinated with spices like turmeric, cumin, and coriander before being cooked in a rich sauce made with coconut milk and other seasonings. This hearty and flavorful curry is commonly enjoyed with rice and a side of vegetables, making it a popular choice for a satisfying and delicious meal.
12. Godamba Roti
Godamba Roti is a traditional Sri Lankan flatbread made from wheat flour. These triangular-shaped pockets can be filled with various ingredients, with fish and vegetable Rotis being popular choices. However, the most favored version is Pol Roti, where freshly grated coconut is mixed into the dough. Spicy Roti is another variant, made by incorporating chopped onions and green chilies into the dough. Unlike samosas, these triangle Rotis are pan-fried instead of being deep-fried.
13. Kiribath (Milk Rice)
Kiribath is a cherished Sri Lankan dish, a special rice preparation cooked with thick coconut milk, and considered a staple throughout the country. Once cooked, the rice and milk mixture is left to set in a shallow plate and then cut into squares or diamond shapes, resembling a slice of cake. It can be served sweetened with jaggery and bananas or savored with chili sauce or curry for a salty taste. Kiribath holds cultural significance and is served during auspicious occasions, symbolizing prosperity and good luck, and commemorating new beginnings. It is a traditional must-have during Sinhalese New Year and important life events like birthdays.
14.Lunu Miris (Chilli Sambol)
Lunu Miris, also known as Chilli Sambol, is a spicy condiment widely enjoyed in Sri Lanka. It is made by grinding red chili peppers, red onions, lime juice, and sometimes Maldive fish together into a fiery paste. The combination of hot and tangy flavors makes Lunu Miris a popular accompaniment to various Sri Lankan dishes, adding a delightful kick to the meal.
15.Pittu (Coconut Funnel Cakes)
Sri Lankan Pittu is a delectable combination of rice or wheat flour, fresh shredded coconut, and desiccated coconut. Traditionally steamed in bamboo, nowadays, it’s often prepared using cylindrical molds. Pittu is best enjoyed with sweetened coconut milk, sugar, and complements well with Lunu Miris (Chilli Sambol), spicy meat, or fish curries, adding a delightful touch to Sri Lankan cuisine.