Food in Sri Lanka

What are the typical dishes of Sri Lanka?

The dishes in Sri Lanka will surely be an incredible experience for you.

Explosions of tastes and flavors accompanied by the colors of nature.

It has practically evolved around rice.

The national meal is not referred to as “curry” but as “rice and curry”.

A mountainous dish of rice generally accompanied by assorted meat and / or vegetable curry, various pickles, sambol and a handful of poppadums.

More than 15 varieties of rice are grown on the island, from tiny translucent white varieties to long-grained basmati and hazelnut kakulualal.

The locals, using their hands, take small quantities of cooked rice and rub them with highly spiced accompaniments, gently massaging the mixture between their fingers to blend the flavors.

Rice and Curry

Rice and Curry

The rice and curry served in the island’s best hotels, guesthouses and restaurants, however, have evolved far beyond this basic formula and often include a sumptuous miniature banquet, with a plate of rice accompanied by at least five, and sometimes even from 15, side dishes.

These dishes are characterized by a culinary compendium of contrasting textures and flavors, from highly spiced curried meat and fish to delicately flavored pineapple, sweet potato or eggplant dishes, as well as portions of unusual local vegetables.

Many Sri Lankans are vegetarians, so eating without meat is easy and vegetables are plentiful.

Coconut is also added to most dishes. The “devilled” are types of meat or fish cooked in a spicy sauce, sweet and sour with onion and peppers.

Below, I list various dishes that you will surely encounter in different activities, hotels and restaurants.

Kottu Roti

Kottu Roti

It is usually found in street stalls and is prepared in a simple way in the style of street food.

The pieces of roti are combined with chopped vegetables or pieces of meat. Spices, soy sauce, ginger and garlic are added.

Hopper (or APPA)

Hopper or Appa

A pancake or more Italian is a bowl-shaped pancake that is prepared with rice flour, coconut milk and palm toddy.

The hoppers can be both sweet and savory but one of the versions most appreciated by the local population is the one with eggs (Egg Hopper) and they are usually served with a sambol of onions, chillies, lemon juice and salt.

Pol Sambol


It is a powdered dressing based on coconut, lime, red onions, chilli peppers and spices.

In Sri Lanka, pol sambol is used as a condiment in many dishes due to the large amount of coconut present on the island.

There are several variations but all have a unique taste and help to make the dish you are eating special. Also excellent as an accompaniment to Roti di Kurakkan.

Gotukola Sambol

Gotu Kola

Gotukola is one of Sri Lanka’s most popular dishes, rich in nutrients and vitamins.

Gotukola sambol is more of a salad than a curry and served as a side dish to complement the steamed rice.

Since each lunch meal includes a variety of curries that differ in texture, cooking methods and level of spiciness, gotukola sambol plays a role of something fresh and green on the table.

It is usually mixed with lime juice, salt, grated coconut and onions.

This sambol can also be made of other greens, such as mukunuwenna and even passion fruit leaves.

Sri Lankan Dhal Curry (Parippu)


Dhal curry is one of the most consumed dishes in Sri Lankan gastronomy.
Dhals, usually red lentil masoor dhals, are often cooked in a nice mixture of spices, and then a few tablespoons of coconut milk are added to create a rich curry.

Curry is ubiquitous in Sri Lanka and is eaten with all forms of rice and bread.

Wambatu moju

Eggplant Moju

Everything tastes better fried and eggplant moju is no exception.

Composed of onions, chillies, sugar, mustard seeds and vinegar, this classic eggplant dish is produced from fried eggplant strips and mixed with all the aforementioned ingredients.

The result is a sweet wrapping tsunami that will encourage you to turn this side dish into a main course

Lamprais (“lump rice”)


The traditional dish of the “Burghers” citizens of Sri Lanka, lamprais, is made of rice, vegetables and meat, wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked slowly.

The Burghers are a small Eurasian ethnic group in Sri Lanka descended from the Portuguese, Dutch and British.

Traditional lamprais include samba rice, mixed meat curry (lamb, beef, pork), two fried cutlets, aubergines, legume bananas and shrimp paste.

Some even have a boiled egg.

All components are packaged in a single banana leaf, where they continue to cook and mix together in a fragrant wonder that reveals its mouth watering delights when opened.

Grilled fish

Grilled Fish

Probably the only item on this list that is not traditionally Sri Lanka.

Even though Sri Lanka is an island and fish is one of the main ingredients of local cuisine, in a Sri Lankan house you will never see a large tuna steak or whole baked fish.

Fish, shrimp and cuttlefish are curried, fried or devilled.

One of my favorite dishes: freshly caught seafood, freshly baked or grilled, come from tourist restaurants in the south, from the ocean.

Almost every restaurant overlooking the ocean offers a daily catch of fish to choose from.

You can choose the type of fish you prefer and the cooking method.

The sweets


An exotic cousin of caramel cream, watalapan is a kind of steamed pudding prepared with eggs, coconut milk, sagu (natural local sweetener) and spiced with cardamom.

Although watalappan is traditionally a Muslim dessert prepared during the Ramadan season, it has become a staple of Sri Lankan cuisine over time.

Nowadays you can find it in many restaurants across the country.

Curd and Kithul Treacle


Sri Lankan curd is a traditional type of yogurt made from Indian buffalo milk.

You can buy them in small stands by the roadside, in specialized shops or in supermarkets.

Make sure your curd enters a clay pot, not a plastic jar (better quality, better taste, better for the planet).

This yogurt has a slightly sour taste. Kithul molasses – a sweet syrup made from local plants – will add a perfect touch of sweetness to it.



String hoppers can be enjoyed sweet, with stuffed meatloaf inside.

“Pani” in Sinhala means honey, “pol” – coconut. Pani pol is prepared by mixing grated coconut with kithul molasses (natural sweet syrup) and cardamom.

For lavariya, string hoppers are filled with pol loaves and rolled up. Pani pol can also be stuffed inside thin pancakes.

Kiri Toffee and Pol Toffee

Kiri Toffee

Kiri toffee (caramel milk) and pol toffee (coconut caramel) are prepared for the main celebrations in Sri Lanka, including Sinhala and Tamil New Year, or for no reason.

Milk caramel is a mixture of sugar syrup with condensed milk. Sometimes chopped cashews are added to improve the flavor.

Pol Toffee is a variant of toffee that is made with grated coconut.

Both can be found in small street shops and supermarkets, but the best ones are homemade candy.

Love cake

Love Cake

The love cake was believed to have been brought to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese during the colonization years.

Sri Lankans fell in love with the “bolus of love” as it was called then, but added a little local flavor to the recipe. This soft cake with a crumbly exterior can be seasoned with cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.

It has become so incorporated into the local culture that, if you search in Google for “love cake”, the first two pages will all be linked to the Sri Lankan version, not the Portuguese version.

Thala Bola and Thala Karali

Thala Bola

These local sesame seed candies can be found in every supermarket.

The word “Thala” in Sinhala means “sesame”, “bola” – “ball”, “karali” – “roll”. So thala bola is a ball-shaped candy and thala karali – a roll-shaped candy.

The bola of Thala is slightly hard and crunchy.

Thala karali is soft and chewy. The two are a perfect edible souvenir to bring back from Sri Lanka for your greedy friends.

Sri Lanka is indeed the perfect place for children and for people who like animals and nature.

This country is incredibly green.

It is impossible not to find elephant herds on safari or even on the same road traveling.
It is also very easy to see leopards, macaques and other types of monkeys, giant squirrels, jackals, etc. etc

Furthermore, walking with children and adults through the Peradeniya Botanical Garden is a delight. Along with the giant trees and millions of plants, we will also find monkeys and other animals in this immense place.

Food in Sri Lanka

We use all the available and easy-to-use technologies to stay in touch with our customers.

Besides the email, the most used method, we are always available by phone and WhatsApp.

It is also possible to communicate via Skype or FaceTime or any other application available to the customer, but only with prior appointment.

We pay a lot of attention in being able to communicate to the customer all the necessary information to offer all the tranquility to you even while you are on Tour.

Living and working in Kandy, facilitates access to privileged information to create new routes and itineraries to Sri Lanka.

Food in Sri Lanka

This allows us to design exclusive and unique journeys, reaching some places that only we know.

This is why we receive an excellent score in everything related to the design of customised and on-demand trips.

Moreover, we pay a lot of attention to everything related to the management of the booking and assistance, always in English, Spanish and Italian, of your trip to Sri Lanka.

Food in Sri Lanka

Meanwhile, those who love exotic beaches, full of palm trees and coconut trees, offer beaches in the west of the country such as Bentota, Ambalangoda, Chilaw and Negambo.

You can also swim in the Indian Ocean in the east of the country on the beaches of Trincomalee, Pasikudah, Nilaveli …

Food in Sri Lanka

If you like surfing you can practice at Arugam Bay, Weligama or Mirissa. 

And of course, we have the beaches of southern Sri Lanka such as Tangalle, Unawatuna, Galle, Ahangama, etc. etc

If you like cities, we have Kandy, Jaffna, Galle Fort and Colombo where you can walk and shop among the wonderful shops and restaurants.
In a nutshell, we have a country with a wide variety of climates, places, cultures, religions, etc. 
Where we will always find Sinhalese smiling and waiting for us with open arms.

Coming to Sri Lanka and not being surprised is absolutely impossible.

Food in Sri Lanka