I love travel for many reasons (the feeling of freedom, experiencing new things every day, etc.) but a very important reason is trying new and exciting food! Before traveling to Sri Lanka, I researched the country (yes, I am a planner?) and red about many dishes with delicious ingredients like coconut, chili and curry spices.
After spending a month in the country and trying out pretty much everything I came across I have put together this post to give you a little peek into the Sri Lankan cuisine!
What to eat in Sri Lanka
Whenever I had the chance I ate dosa! I ate my favorite dosa ever in Jaffna, in a local restaurant which was extremely busy with locals. The ghee dosa was superb, it was dripping with butter and sooooo tasty… I would do the 4 hour train ride from Anuradhapura to Jaffna all over again to eat one of those heart-disease inducing delicacies.
Besides the fabulous ghee dosa I also ate a lot of ‘regular’ dosa (left) and masala dosa (right).
Curry and rice
The staple in any Sri Lankan day: (vegetable) curry and rice. The vegetable curries were different every time I order this dish, some more delicious than others, but all very tasty.
There are so many types of roti in Sri Lanka! Vegetable roti usually comes in triangles, coconut roti is a smaller and slightly thicker disk and egg roti is mostly square or rectangular. I liked them all and ate one (okay, two… okay several…) pretty much every day.
I also tried all kinds of exotic roti variations, like pineapple, cheese and peanut butter. I especially liked avocado roti (left) and roti with banana and Nutella (right).
I love kottu! Kottu is a mix of chopped up roti, vegetables and (depending on your preference) egg, chicken or cheese. I usually asked for the spicy version and was never disappointed when ordering kottu.
My favorite roti kottu I ate in the famous Hotel de Pilawoos in Colombo (left) but my favorite ever kottu was a string hopper kottu (right). This type of kottu is made with with very thin noodles instead of chopped roti. I bought this takeaway string hopper kottu from a tiny food truck somewhere along the road in Colombo. Absolutely delicious!
A hopper is a bit similar to a pancake, but with a hint of coconut and bowl-shaped. It was incredible to watch how people making these tasty snacks. The layer of mixture in the pan is so thin, it’s amazing the hoppers don’t crack!
If you like, you can order an egg hopper, which is a hopper with an egg in the middle (like the one in the picture above).
Vegetable fried rice
Another dish I regularly ordered was vegetable fried rice. Sometimes with egg, but after a couple of days in Sri Lanka I realized I was eating at least 4 eggs a day (egg roti, egg hopper, kottu with egg, etc) so I cut down a little on the eggs. Vegetable fried rice with coconut chili is perfect enough as it is anyway.
When staying at Pathum Homestay in Sigiriya we got these coconut rice domes filled with a coconut and honey mixture for breakfast. Very nice but very filling!
Another variation on a pancake, this delicious coconut pancake was stuffed with a mix of sweet coconut and honey, really tasty! Chock-full of sugar though, so I tried not to eat this every day…
Curry with naan
Perhaps not entirely Sri Lankan but since there are a lot of Indian restaurants in Sri Lanka I ate a lot of Indian curries with freshly prepared naan. Sooooo good…
To compensate for all the amazing (but not always healthiest) food I had a fresh fruit juice every day?. Pineapple is my all time favorite, but the mangoes in Sri Lanka are also very good. And to mix things up, I had a papaya or avocado juice every once in a while.
Sri Lanka used to be called Ceylon and tea is still an important export product. Needless to say I drank a lot of tea and tried out many flavors.
We also visited a couple of tea plantations and during our train trip through the mountains we drove through beautiful green tea plantations for hours.
Local variations on international dishes
In Ella I had a chicken wrap and while these were definitely not Mexican wraps (but more roti?) they were delicious nonetheless.
And when I ordered a Caesar salad in Weligama I got this artful leave of lettuce filled with chicken, olives and pineapple. Not your usual Caesar salad, but no complaining as it was very yummy!
I have a lot more food pictures from my 1 month trip in Sri Lanka, but I suggest just going there yourself to try out all the delicacies this wonderful country has to offer!
Interested in the daily travel budget for Sri Lanka? You can find detailed information in my budget breakdown post.
Need help planning your Sri Lanka trip? Read my 1 month itinerary for inspiration and detailed advice how to get around.
Looking for accommodation? Check out my accommodation guide (we paid between €6 and €25 per night).