The tear-shaped Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka is a true culinary treat. Through years of colonisation and trade, many cultures have influenced its cuisine. Sir Lankan food has influences from Dutch, Portuguese, English, Malay, Indian and indigenous flavours to tantalise the taste buds. Here is our list of the best Sri Lankan foods you need to try on your trip to this beguiling isle.
There’s certainly no shortage of fish, seafood, vegetables and spices to turn into tempting curries. Coconut plays a key role in dishes, as well as arrack, the potent homegrown spirit distilled from the sap of coconut flowers. There’s always thambili, or sweet king coconut water, for the morning after.
Always served with rice – white, brown or red – Sri Lankans prefer to eat it with their fingers.
You might also come across the slightly less overpowering lunu miris, consisting of chilli powder, onions, Maldive fish and salt; and the more gentle, sweet-and-sour seeni sambol (“sugar sambol”).
The catch of the day comes in a range of sizes, from half a kilo to the whopping two-kilo Crabzilla, in time-honoured recipes, including chilli crab, pepper crab and curry crab.
Explore Sri Lankan tea tradition with our guide to tea tourism in Sri Lanka.
Discover the tea plantations, waterfalls and hill country of the Central Province before being whisked away to the golden sands of Sri Lanka’s glorious Indian Ocean beaches on the south coast on this tailor-made trip to Sri Lanka Deluxe. From whale watching to soaking up the rays, this trip offers a relaxing escape to Sri Lanka.
It's one of the more elaborate dishes that make up traditional Sri Lankan food, and definitely worth a try.
Absorb Sri Lanka's ancient culture at Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa on this tailor-made trip to Sri Lankan culture and coast. Journey south to colourful Kandy with its temples and tea factories, followed by a relaxing stay on sandy southwest beaches.
The ingredients for pol sambol are typically ground together using a mortar and pestle. This helps to release the flavours of the spices and create a smooth, paste-like consistency. It is a versatile condiment that can be used in a variety of dishes, and it is a popular choice for adding flavour and heat to Sri Lankan cuisine.
Kiribath is often served on special occasions such as weddings and religious festivals, and it is often accompanied by spicy curry dishes. It has a creamy and slightly sweet flavour and is a staple Sri Lankan food.
Immerse yourself in the rich cultural and religious heritage of Sri Lanka with our tailor-made tour of the region's most significant temples and other religious monuments. Visit Colombo, Dambulla, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Galle and much more.
Wood apple juice is often enjoyed as a refreshing drink, and it is believed to have various health benefits due to its high nutrient content. It is a popular choice in Sri Lanka, and it can be found at street food stalls and markets throughout the region.
Read our list of trip ideas to explore Sri Lanka and find the best option for your holiday.
Love cake is a popular choice for special occasions such as weddings and celebrations, and it is known for its rich and aromatic flavor. It is a unique and flavorful dessert that is characteristic of Sri Lankan cuisine.
Gotu kola sambol is often used as a topping for rice and curry dishes, and it adds a spicy and fragrant flavour to the meal. It is a popular choice in Sri Lanka, and it is often enjoyed as a condiment with traditional Sri Lankan foods.
Find plenty of options for your holiday with our guide to the best things to do in Sri Lanka, or maybe you would like to choose your destination from the list of the most exotic places to travel in the world.
Ready for a trip to Sri Lanka? Check out the snapshot The Rough Guide to Sri Lanka. If you travel further in Sri Lanka, read more about the best time to go and the best places to visit in Sri Lanka. For inspiration use the itineraries from our local travel experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there.
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