The Best street foods in Sri Lanka

Collage made from photos of Street foods in Sri Lanka.

When you walk the streets in Sri Lanka in the evening, you will hear a symphony of sounds made by the street vendors preparing delicious street foods in Sri Lanka. The beat of the kottu roti master working his magic will be the loudest of them all. If you listen carefully, you will hear the music when hopper batter is poured into the hot pan. And the sound of bubbling oil in which mouth-watering short eats are being deep-fried. The aroma of all these yummy street foods will definitely make you hungry. Today I am going to tell you about some of the most delicious street foods that you must try during your next visit to Sri Lanka. So let’s get started. I hope you bring your appetite…

Kottu - The King of Sri Lankan Street Foods

Undeniably, Kottu is the king of all street foods. And obviously, it is the favorite street food of many locals and foreign tourists.

It is called the king of street foods for many reasons. It’s full of flavor, nutrition, and aroma, and it will definitely make you full.

Kottu is made from a perfect blend of flat bread pieces, different types of veggies like carrots and leeks, and some types of gravy, plus special additional ingredients.

There are different types of Kottu according to these additional ingredients.

If eggs are added, it’s called an egg kottu. If chicken is added, it is called chicken kottu. If cheese is added, it is called cheese kottu. If eggs, chicken, and cheese are added, I call it a “feast.”.

Of course, there are vegetable kottu, which are made by mixing only vegetables, non-meat products, and vegetable gravy. But the real kottu is made with chicken gravy and added chicken pieces.

A picture of Kottu-The King of all Street foods in Sri Lanka. There are so many delicious Street foods in Sri Lanka. Kottu, hoppers, wade, pol roti, short eats are just to name a few.
Kottu-The King of all street foods

Before assembling the kottu, the kottu master will get all the necessary ingredients ready. He will make the chicken curry with gravy. He will cut all the vegetables. Prepare all the spices he needs. Cut flat bread (usually parata or godamba roti) into pieces. Beat a few whole eggs in a bowl. He will clean the hot plate, where he will assemble the Kottu and arrange all the necessary ingredients close to the hotplate.

Then, step by step, he will start adding the ingredients to the hot plate.

First, he will scramble the egg, add onions, carrots, chicken pieces, and, of course, spices, and mix them with his two spatulas while chopping the big chicken pieces into smaller pieces.

Then he will add the flat bread pieces and mix everything together. To get the right consistency, he will add chicken gravy from time to time while mixing the ingredients together. The end result is steaming, spicy, delicious Kottu.

Kottu always comes with a side dish of gravy. If the kottu is too dry for you or not spicy enough, you can add some of the gravy to the kottu when you eat it.

Have you tried Kottu already? If not, I highly recommend that you try it. If you have already tried it, let me know your experience with Kottu in the comments below. I would love to know what you think about this out-of-this world dish from Sri Lanka.

Hoppers - (bowl-shaped crepe-like street food in Sri Lanka)

This crunchy, milky, bowl-shaped crepe-like snack is another one of my favorite street foods from Sri Lanka.

Hoppers are soft, light, and extremely appetizing. And the smell alone will activate your salivary glands.

It is made with a fermented batter made from rice flour and coconut milk.

The batter is poured into a hot bowl-shaped wok, cooked for one or two minutes, and voila! You have a hopper. It’s so simple to make. And so delicious.

Hoppers. One of the best and popular Street foods in Sri Lanka. There are so many delicious Street foods in Sri Lanka. Kottu, hoppers, wade, pol roti, short eats are just to name a few.
Hoppers-Soft, light & Delicious!

You can add different toppings to the hoppers and get different kinds of hoppers.

If you crack an egg into the hopper, you get egg hoppers. If you add cheese as the topping, cheese hoppers. Chicken toppings;- chicken hoppers.

My favorite types of hoppers are plain hoppers and egg hoppers.

You can eat hoppers with seeni sambol or lunu miris. These are two condiments that will enhance your hopper experience.

Seeni sambol is sweet and spicy. Lunu miris is savory and spicy. You can choose either condiment according to your liking.

My choice is Lunu Miris. Warning! Lunu miris can be a little too spicy for foreigners. So try a little bit first. If you can handle the spiciness, go for it.

Short eats - Street foods in Sri Lanka for teatime

A photo of a food shelf with Rolls, Cutlets, Wade and Samosa. These are some of the Best Street Foods in Sri Lanka.
Assortment of short eats in Sri Lanka

Short eats are a group of teatime snacks that are popular in Sri Lanka. Most of these are savory and spicy.

Samosas (Street foods in Sri Lanka for teatime)

You will see samosas in many South Asian countries. It’s a stuffed pastry that is deep-fried until golden brown and crispy on the outside.

Although they look the same in different countries, they taste completely different. It’s because each country has its own authentic stuffing.

In Sri Lanka, the stuffing is mainly vegetables. Most commonly, you will find potatoes, leeks, gram, onions, green beans, and spices inside the stuffing.

But there are chicken and fish samosas too.

I think vegetable samosa tastes the best. You can try all of them and decide which one tastes best for you.

When you bite into a freshly fried crispy samosa, you will be welcomed by a bomb of flavorful soft stuffing that will take your taste buds on a journey to heaven and back.

Be careful not to bite a very hot samosa right out of the pan, though. Or any deep-fried short eat in that case. Because it will burn your tongue, and you won’t be able to taste the other delicious street foods until your taste buds are recovered.

Rolls (Street foods in Sri Lanka for teatime)

Rolls are basically made in the same way as a samosa, but they are coated with breadcrumbs before deep-frying. That gives the rolls extra flavor and texture.

You will see rolls in two shapes in Sri Lanka. One is cylindrical, and the other is triangular.

The stuffing of rolls usually includes fish, eggs, or meat with vegetables. You can find rolls with vegetable stuffing too. But the best rolls are made with vegetable stuffing with half a boiled egg inside.

Godamba roti, Parata, Vegetable roti, Egg rotee (Teatime street foods in Sri Lanka)

Godamba roti and paratha are flat breads. These short eats have Indian roots.

Sri Lankans love to eat godamba roti and paratha with dal curry or chicken curry. This combination is very tasty and satisfying.

Sri Lankans got creative with the flatbread recipe that they learned from their neighbor and upgraded it to make egg roti and vegetable roti.

For egg roti, an omelet is added as a filling to the godamba roti, and the roti is then folded like an envelope, covering the omelet.

Egg roti goes very well with a chicken gravy. You can ask the vendor to cut the egg roti into small pieces for you so it is easier to coat everything in the chicken gravy and eat.

Vegetable roti is a triangular-shaped snack made from folding the godamba roti with stuffing inside it. The stuffing is usually made from vegetables, similar to the stuffing of samosas. (Sometimes they make vegetable roti in a rectangular shape too.).

The chewy texture of the godamba roti and the savory stuffing inside it complement each other perfectly. And it will make you full. Although it is considered a snack, one vegetable roti and a plain tea is basically a whole meal.

A photo of a Street foods vender preparing a delicious meal on the streets in Sri Lanka. There are so many delicious Street foods in Sri Lanka. Kottu, hoppers, wade, pol roti, short eats are just to name a few.
A street vender is making a delicious snack! - Photo by Sandaru Muthuwadige on Unsplash

Fish bun (Street foods in Sri Lanka for teatime)

This is a triangular-shaped bun with a fish-based filling inside. The filling is made with potatoes, salmon, and Sri Lankan spices to add a little kick to it.

This is no ordinary bun with a filling, although it sounds like that. When you try one, you will notice the fish buns in Sri Lanka are exceptional.

Roast paan (Roast bread) - (Street foods in Sri Lanka for teatime)

Sri Lankans love to eat this mini-sized bread with coconut sambol and dal curry for breakfast. It’s simple and very filling. The combination of these three is a match made in heaven.

Kimbula buns (Crocodile buns) - (Street foods in Sri Lanka for teatime)

This is a bakery product that resembles the shape of a crocodile. Not exactly that shape. But pretty close.

It’s a twisted roll-like bun with sugar sprinkled on it. It’s simple, tasty, and Sri Lankans love it.

If you come across a tuk-tuk playing Beethoven’s Für Elise classic, that’s your signal to taste some authentic Sri Lankan short eats. This special tuk-tuk is called “chun paan” in Sri Lanka. It mostly has bakery products like fish buns, roast paan crocodile buns, jam buns, and so much more.

Wade (undu, parippu, isso) - (The ultimate street food snack in Sri Lanka)

A picture of a basket of wade. Wade is one of popular street foods in Sri Lanka. There are so many delicious Street foods in Sri Lanka. Kottu, hoppers, wade, pol roti, short eats are just to name a few.
Freshly made wade! Yum Yum! - Photo by Filiz Elaerts on Unsplash

When you are using public transport in Sri Lanka, you will hear a vendor shouting “wade wade,” and at the same time, a delicious food smell will fill your smell receptors.

These are the signs that you are about to be presented with one of Sri Lanka’s finest street foods, called wade.

Wade is made from a deep-fried, savory batter. It is one of the most popular snacks in Sri Lanka. Its taste is quite addictive, I would say.

There are different types of wade.

The orange-brown wade in the shape of a flying saucer is called Parippu wade. It is made from lentils and is extremely tasty.

When prawns are embedded in the wade, it is called “isso wade.” “Isso” in Sinhala means prawns.

Undu Wade has the shape of a donut. It’s made from a batter made with urad dal and wheat flour.

Undu wade tastes great on its own, but if you eat it with chili paste or lunu miris, the taste will multiply a hundred times.

A photo of a shelf of a street foods vender. Here we can see different types of wade. Isso wade and Parippu wade. There are so many delicious Street foods in Sri Lanka. Kottu, hoppers, wade, pol roti, short eats are just to name a few.
Different variants of wade - Photo by Sandaru Muthuwadige on Unsplash

Sri Lankans add spices, onions, and green chili pieces to the wade batter.

Be careful not to bite pieces of green chili when eating wade. These little spice bombs can make you cry.

Pol roti - (“lunch of the laborer,” which became a favorite street food in Sri Lanka)

Pol roti can be called the food of the Sri Lankan laborer. This is one of the popular foods for traditional Sri Lankans to eat when they work in their paddy fields, farms, and gardens.

The reason for pol roti to be the food of choice for people is because it is easy to make, the ingredients are not that expensive, it doesn’t get spoiled fast, it fills your hunger, and it is very tasty.

A picture of Pol roti. One of the popular Street foods in Sri Lanka. There are so many delicious Street foods in Sri Lanka. Kottu, hoppers, wade, pol roti, short eats are just to name a few.
Pol roti: Simple & Delicious - Photo by Nilantha Sanjeewa on Unsplash

Pol roti is a traditional flatbread in Sri Lanka that is made with flour, coconut shreddings, salt, and water. The simplicity of the recipe doesn’t do justice to its taste and its value for Sri Lankans.

What was once the “lunch of the laborer” is now a beloved street food of almost every Sri Lankan and all tourists who visit this beautiful island.

To get the real authentic taste of pol roti, try them with coconut sambol, lunu miris, or dhal curry. You will love it.

Achcharu (This street food in Sri Lanka was once also the top street food in Asia)

Did you know that Achcharu was named the top street food in Asia by CNN Travel in 2022.

“Achcharu” in Sinhala means pickle.

You will find vendors selling different types of achcharu on the side of the road in Sri Lanka.

To make achcharu, they cut different kinds of fruits, like mango, pineapple, and Sri Lankan olives (veralu), into bite-sized pieces. Then they add some spices and give it a good shake.

This is a great snack to munch on when you are tired of walking the streets.

A collage made from photos of Achcharu aka Sri lankan Pickle. This is one of the Street foods in Sri Lanka. There are so many delicious Street foods in Sri Lanka. Kottu, hoppers, wade, pol roti, short eats are just to name a few.
Achcharu: Spicy & refreshing!

As always, take precautions if you are not familiar with spicy food. Keep a bottle of water at hand before trying achcharu. You can ask the vendor to make it less spicy if you really can’t handle the spiciness.

Sweets (Bundi, Pol toffee, Musket, Dodol) - (Sweet street food snacks from Sri Lanka)

If you have a sweet tooth, Sri Lankan streets have some great sweet street foods for you to try.

Bundi is one of my all-time favorites. It is like a feast for the eyes and melts in the mouth. Beware! You will get addicted because it’s so tasty.

Pol toffee is made from coconut and condensed milk. Its milky taste, together with the coconutty texture, will make you fall in love with this sweet.

A collage from photos of sweet Street foods in Sri Lanka. There are so many delicious Street foods in Sri Lanka. Kottu, hoppers, wade, pol roti, short eats are just to name a few.
Don't forget to try Sri Lankan sweets!

Musket and dodol is a jelly-like candy made with coconut milk, flour, and sugar.

Musket comes in different colors, like yellow and green.

Dodol is usually dark brown in color.

Cashews and raisins are added to these snacks to make them more tasty.

Musket has a little bit of a rubbery texture compared to dodol. But both of them taste heavenly.

If you haven’t read the previous article on The Best foods to try in Sri Lanka, follow the above link. You will find more tasty foods to add to your “must-try foods list in Sri Lanka”.

Sri Lanka is a country of many cultures, many religions, many wonders, and many tastes. You can always find the taste that suits you best on this amazing island. I hope from this article you found some great street foods for you to try on your next vacation to Sri Lanka. Let me know in the comments what street food was your favorite.

I’ll meet you with another interesting article about Sri Lanka next week.

Until then, I say goodbye!

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

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