Although Sri Lankan food looks much similar to South Indian cuisine, it is distinctively different in taste and preparation and has managed to win over a multitude of visitors to the shores of Sri Lanka.
Home to some of the exotic fruits, vegetables, world famous spices and seafood, Sri Lanka offers some of the spiciest and delicious dishes made with a collection of ingredients and spices.
Each region of the country has its own signature dishes, the culinary pride and glory, which has become part of the staple diet as well as the celebration tables of each home and village. While there are many dishes unique to Sri Lanka, some have reached global acclamation as a comfort food, finger food and delicacy.
The most popular of all the Sri Lankan dishes at the moment is the Kottu. Found nowhere in the world, Kottu can come in various shapes and flavors including just plain eggs, chicken or fish to cheese mixed and is prepared with the shreds of Sri Lankan godamba roti, a plain wheat flour based wrap, which is also called murtaba in Singapore, and tossed with assortment of spices, tempered vegetables, meat and eggs.
Tossed on an oiled sheet of metal with much ado and noise, Kottu is generally served with a side dish of hot and spicy gravy to add moisture and flavor to the dish and can be found at street side eateries and posh restaurants alike.
If Kottu is the Sri Lankan street food similar to hamburger, Dhal curry is the local comfort food similar to a mac and cheese.
A permanent part of local staple, a tempered Dhal or Red Lentil Curry makes a great accompaniment to any carb from varying rice, bread to string hoppers and roti and is omnipresent at every eatery just like the Kottu.
As a bunch of islanders, Sri Lankans love their fish and dry fish and they like them hot. All varieties of fish of different sizes are cooked, fried and tempered to be served with the favorite carbs. While fish varieties like sailfish and tuna are mostly consumed as spicy curries, varieties of mullets, groupers and seer fish are also baked, steamed and made into mulligatawny.
Sri Lankans also cherish seafood varieties like prawns, crabs, lobsters, cuttlefish and octopus while Negombo prawn curry and Jaffna Kool stand as strong testimony to how much we cherish the bounties of the ocean.
While the Negombo Prawns Curry is a slow-cooked, spicy dish filled with the flavor of spices and cinnamon, Jaffna Kool is an all-rounder dish that combines Palmyra flour, prawns, fish, cuttlefish and crab, leafy greens, Jackfruit and seeds, cassava and the zest of Tamarind fruit. Flavored with spices, Kool is less spicy and can be a meal on its own.
Milk tea and plain tea happen to be the favorite drink in Sri Lanka, which is also world’s best tea producer while local lime juice and wood apple juice are best to take the heat out of local dishes.
When it comes to desserts and sweets, Sri Lanka has a selection that can permanently cure your sweet addiction. From curd and treacle to watalappan, and other sweetmeats which include Kavum or sweet oil cakes, dodol and all-time favorite kokis, a deep-fried, crispy sweet, Sri Lankan sweets and desserts too are available for grabs at almost every eatery you walk into.
Whether you are restaurant hopping looking for various local dishes or looking for a unique fine dining experience, be sure to speak to the chefs for a taste of local favorites from kottu, dhal to seafood.