I’ve never tried Sri Lankan cuisine before visiting the country so I had no idea what to expect. After travelling the country for two weeks, I can confirm the Sri Lankan diet is basically 70% carbs. This sounded so dreamy to me until my stomach just couldn’t process any more rice or roti a week in. That being said, the food is amazingly tasty and incorporates all the produce that is grown right in the country (something that Westerners need to learn).
Of all the dishes I tried, here are my top 5 things I would recommend trying when you visit Sri Lanka:
1. COCONUT ROTI. Exactly what it sounds like - a thicker roti with a hint of coconut mainly eaten during brekky. This is a Sri Lankan staple and probably my favourite thing I had during the two weeks.
2. RICE & CURRY. You can’t NOT find this dish on any Sri Lankan menu, it’s everywhere but the curry choices are endless. Did you know you can make curry out of literally anything? EVEN JACKFRUIT! My favourites were all veg curries - polo (jackfruit), dahl (lentil), pumpkin, beetroot, eggplant and potato. Tr y Jaga Food in Polonnaruwa pictured below for an awesome curry buffet and say hi to the komodo dragon!
3. CURD & HONEY. Basically their version of greek yoghurt made from buffalo milk, often served for dessert. It’s thick and creamy and tasty.
4. FRIED RICE/NOODLES. Weird to think Sri Lankans eat a lot of fried rice and noodles but this was also on every menu. Usually very simple and DRY since they cut up the noodles into tiny pieces and tastes nothing like you think it would but easy and cheap. Often eaten with ketchup.
5. FRUIT, FRUIT & FRUIT. BANANAS, COCONUTS, WATERMELONS. I LOVE fruit and Sri Lankan fruit is so fresh and yum. Bananas are my fave and coconuts can be found anywhere.
THE NOT SO GOOD (ACCORDING TO ME)
I honestly enjoyed all the vegetarian dishes way more than the meat dishes. They really know how to make the veggies tasty so you don’t even need meat in your diet to be satisfied. There are also other traditional dishes that everyone recommends like Kottu (a dish made from leftovers consisting of roti, veggies and some protein like chicken in a stir fry aka dirty drunk food), Hoppers (mixture of water and flour…cooked to look like a little bowl) and wood apple (fruit with a wooden exterior that tastes like blue cheese but I wasn’t brave enough to try it) but I wasn’t a big fan of any of these.
Sri Lankans do not do Western food well as expected but there are Western options basically everywhere in case you missed a good old burger. Eat at your own risk and prepare to be disappointed. The rice and curry route is always the way to go - it’s way cheaper and pretty much always good. Just skip the rice if you can’t cope well with the carb load like me. Colombo is decent for Western food - Life Food was a great find for a slice of cafe life! Oh ya…make sure to try the Fosters water, hahaha!
COST OF FOOD
Food can be dirt cheap depending on what city you’re in and what restaurant you choose. Restaurants catered to tourists offering Western food will no doubt be more expensive (around 700-1000rps per dish which is $5-$8CAD). We’ve also had rice and curry dishes for as low as 200rps per dish which is about $2CAD. It’s all about walking around and comparing. Tripadvisor can be your best friend to find some of the best and cheapest options but only use it as a guide, not a bible.
My advice is just to try everything at least once and see what you like. Who knows, maybe you’ll become a vegetarian. :)
This post didn’t have many nice photos so here’s a picture of me chilling hard in my go-to travel outfit on a hammock in the middle of nowhere (Tangalle, Sri Lanka). Weeeeeee!