The Best of Sri Lankan Food That You Must Try…

Sri Lankan food

Visit iStock by Getty Images for stunning, high-quality photos from Ceylon, captured by a talented Sri Lankan Photographer…

Yum yum yum!

For all the foodies out there, here are some mouth-watering food suggestions from Sri Lanka to try during your trip to this wonderful island.

Sri Lanka offers a vast range of dishes of all sorts, vegetarian, non – vegetarian, spicy, not spicy, sweet, you name it. We have it all.

Out of so many amazing Sri Lankan Dishes, here are a few of them that I think you must enjoy during your next trip to Sri Lanka.

Kottu (Kottu roti)

Photo from Sulanjika N.

I’m telling you. Sri Lankans are food artists. Otherwise there’s no way to explain how they came up with the idea of this delicious, world famous dish (definitely my favourite too) that is made from leftover godamba roti. 

They chop up the godamba roti and mix it with any ingredient varying from chicken curry, eggs, leeks, carrot, spring onions, obviously spices and after the famous kottu dance of the spatulas on the hot metal plate you’ll be served with smoking hot, heavenly smelling masterpiece called Kottu.

Kottu recipe is so flexible, so there is vegan kottu too. So, being a vegan won’t stop you from tasting this delicious dish from Sri Lanka made just for you.

Achcharu (Sri Lankan pickle)

Photo from Sulanjika N.

You’ll see vendors selling different kinds of fruits like mango, Sri Lankan olives (veralu), pineapple, and ambarella on the streets. They cut these fruits, put them into a bag, mix local spices, chili, sugar & salt and the pickle is ready. 

Always have some cool water with you when you’re trying achcharu, because it can be a bit spicy for foreigners like you.

This is a perfect snack if you’re walking around Kandy lake, or maybe having some quiet time near a lake in Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa, or maybe while traveling on a train or a bus.

Speaking of trains, if you missed the article about the famous Ella train ride, you can read it from the above link.

Kiri bath with Lunu miris

Milk rice (Kiribath)_One of the snacks in “Avurudu kema mesaya,” or New Year Feast prepared for Sinhala and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka.
Photo from Nim Sisil

This is an essential food in any auspicious occasion in Sri Lanka. Yes. You can call it a Holy food if you like. It is also one of the main foods in Sinhala and Tamil New year.

But Sri Lankans make it for breakfast, dinner, and basically at any chance that they want.

Because it’s so simple, tasty, and filling.  

Kiri bath translates into Milk rice in English. The word itself describes how the food is made. Rice is cooked with coconut milk, water, and a pinch of salt. Coconut milk gives the rice a creamy and thick consistency and makes the rice grains stick together. This allows the Kiri bath to be flattened once it’s cooked, and cut into pieces. The recipe is so simple, but the taste is out of this world. Once you try Kiribath with Lunu miris which is a garnish made with onions, chili, maldive fish scrapings, salt, and some lemon juice, you would understand why this is an essential in the Sri Lankan cuisine.

Sri Lankan Chicken curry

Sri Lankan chicken curry is cooked with an abundance of Sri Lankan spices, which gives its unique taste. 

The recipe changes according to the regions and taste preferences. It can be cooked spicy or not spicy at all.

No matter how it is cooked, it is one of the essentials that will complete “The menu” of your rice and curry dish. 

It is most satisfying when served with Rice.

Wambatu moju

Photo from Sulanjika N.

Wambatu = Brinjal = Eggplant

Wambatu moju is also a Sri Lankan way of preserving food.

It is a sweet pickle made from deep fried brinjal wedges caramelized with sugar, green chillies, vinegar, red small onions, mustard seeds, chili powder and a pinch of turmeric powder which comes together to form a delicacy in Sri Lankan cuisine.

Usually served  with rice and curry, once you’ve tasted it, you’ll definitely ask for more. Yes! It’s that good!

Kiri toffee and Pol toffee

These are sweet snacks for tea time. 

Kiri toffee is made from sweetened condensed milk whereas the main ingredient in Pol toffee is coconut scrapings.

They both have distinctive tastes and Pol toffee comes in different colours. It’s a feast for the eyes as well as it is to your mouth.

Photo from Sulanjika N.

String hoppers with Kiri hodi and Pol sambol

String hoppers is one of the staples of Sri Lankan breakfast. It is kind of a homemade rice noodles in the shape of a disk. 

The dough is made to the right consistency with lukewarm water, rice flour, salt and using an apparatus just like a pasta maker but with smaller holes. The dough is squeezed onto special String hopper molds and then steamed until cooked.

When served hot with Pol sambol and Kiri hodi, which is a creamy soup kinda dish made with coconut milk, one bite will take you to heaven and back. So good!


Photos from Sulanjika N. and Lahiru M.

Lavariya is actually a derivative of String hoppers. The usual String hopper dough is squeezed in the shape of a bigger circle onto a greased foldable sheet and then a filling of coconut scrapings with sugar syrup (peni pol) is placed on one half of the circle. Then the other half of the circle is carefully folded over the filling and the edges are sealed well. Final step is to steam until the dough is cooked. The result is a tasty Lavariya that will melt in your mouth. 

Sri Lankans love to include Lavariya for their breakfast. A ceylon tea will go perfectly with Lavariya. Mmm.. My mouth is watering from the thought of it.


Hoppers is a bowl shaped pancake made from fermented rice dough and coconut milk. Primarily considered as a popular street food, but is included in every restaurant menu. Yes. It’s that popular. 

When an egg is broken into the middle of the hopper, you get an egg hopper. As I said before, Sri Lankans are food artists. They have come up with so many varieties of hoppers by adding different fillings to the middle. But my go to choice is always plain hoppers with lunu miris and egg hoppers. I like to keep it simple. But I invite you to try different varieties if you get a chance. The chicken hoppers especially taste pretty good too.

Visit iStock by Getty Images for stunning, high-quality photos from Ceylon, captured by a talented Sri Lankan Photographer…

Pol Sambol

This is one of the best dishes that you must have to try in Sri Lanka. It’s so simple but the taste is so rich and unique. For me, there is no substitute to Sri Lankan pol sambol. 

It’s a blend of coconut scrapings, spice, garlic, onion and maldive fish. When these ingredients are mixed according to the correct ratio and fried with a bit of oil and mustard seeds, the result is incredible. And it can be served with rice, bread, roti, kiribath etc.

For me, steaming hot white rice with pol sambol and tempered dried fish plus a dhal curry is like a heavenly meal. I could eat this combo for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try it if you go to a buffet in Sri Lanka. You will understand what I mean.

Fish ambul thiyal (sour fish curry)

Fish ambul thiyal is first originated in the Southern part of Sri Lanka as a way of preserving fish. 

But available in almost all the restaurants that offer a buffet.

Tuna or other big fish is cut into cube-sized pieces and coated with many spices such as Goraka paste (made by blending goraka with salt and water), Black pepper, Green pepper, Cinnamon, Garlic, Turmeric, Pandan leaves, Curry leaves. Goraka gives the sour taste as well as it results in the firm texture of the fish.

When the mix of spices and fish cubes is simmered with a little amount of water in a clay pot under low heat until all the water is evaporated and fish cubes are coated with the spice mixture, the result will be  mouth watering ambul thiyal dish.

Rice and curry

Photo from Lahiru M.

Rice and curry is the staple food in Sri Lanka. At least once a day (usually, for lunch) we eat rice and curry. White, red or yellow rice can be served with so many different curries, and the possible combinations are endless.

I’m sure you’ll go to a Sri Lankan buffet for lunch during your visit to this amazing culinary paradise. When you do, here are some curries that I recommend for you to try with rice.

  • Wambatu moju
  • Papadam
  • Fish cutlet
  • Parippu
  • Fish curry or Fish ambul thiyal
  • Polos (baby jackfruit curry)
  • One of Green curries like beans, okra, pumpkin, ridge gourd (wetakolu)
  • Sri Lankan Chicken curry

There are so many choices including vegetarian dishes. I would say, Try everything in the buffet. There is no incorrect combination of rice and curry. 

And if you want to get the authentic taste and eat like a local, use your hand and dig in. You won’t regret it. The real taste comes when the rice and curry is properly mixed with the hand.

Sri Lanka has so many amazing dishes. They are all unique and delicious. It’s impossible to write about all the awesome foods this tropical island has in one article. So, there will be a part-2 for this article for sure in the future. 

Let me know in the comments what is your favorite Sri Lankan food and about what dish you will want to read in the part-2 of Best dishes from Sri Lanka.

Until next time…

නැවත හමුවෙමු😉 (Newatha hamuwemu = Let’s meet again)

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