Sunny beaches, tropical sunsets, historical temples, beautiful scenery, cute elephants and stilt fishermen. These are some of the sights you might encounter on your trip to Sri Lanka during one of your breaks. One other thing you’ll never forget about Sri Lanka is its cuisine. Sri Lankan cuisine is very different from its South Asian counterparts, so here’s a small guide to some popular, unmissable Sri Lankan dishes.


Rice and Curry

This meal is a must if you visit Sri Lanka. Rice and curry is usually consumed for lunch every day and some have it for breakfast and dinner too. Sri Lankans have many curries that are rotated for each meal of the day. Rice is the staple food of Sri Lanka and it is always accompanied by three or four curries: Parrippu, a curry made from dhal or lentils, a prawn, fish, chicken or beef curry, vegetable curries and a green leaf dish.


Kiribath – Milk rice

Kiribath is a traditional dish that is usually eaten for breakfast. The rice is cooked with coconut milk instead of water, and is accompanied by sweet jaggery, a particular type of cane sugar, and lunumiris, a spice made out of chopped onions and chilli flakes. This dish is usually made for special occasions, like Sri Lankan New Year, birthdays and anniversaries.


Considered a street food, this dish is extremely popular in Sri Lanka and has several variations with various meats and cheeses.
Kottu is made out of shredded Gothammba Rotti — pictured below — to which egg, vegetables, meat and curry are added and mixed together. The sound of kottu being made has its own sort of drumbeat as the ingredients are mixed and broken apart with two long rectangular knives beating against the grill.


Gothammba Rotti


Appa – Hoppers

Hoppers are made from rice flour and coconut-milk-based batter which is fried on a special type of wok called an appa thachchi. Its design gives the hopper its shape, making it soft in the middle and crunchy on the rim. There are plain hoppers and egg hoppers, which are accompanied by lunumiris.


Idiappa – String Hoppers

String Hoppers are made out of a thicker rice-flour-based batter which is pushed through a round, flat, perforated nozzle. It falls out like streamers and is guided into circles which are then steamed. String Hoppers are accompanied by pol sambol — a type of spiced dessicated coconut — parripu, dhal and fish or chicken curry.


Thambili – King Coconut

This variety of coconut is native to Sri Lanka and is a must try, especially when the days are hot and humid. Thambili is a sweet, cooling coconut water.


Kiri Tea – Milk Tea

Although tea was introduced to Sri Lanka by the British, it has become an important aspect of Sri Lankan culture. In fact, Sri Lanka is one of the world’s leading tea producers. Tea lovers should definitely try Sri Lankan tea.

Bombai Mutai – Sri Lankan cotton candy

Sri Lankan children grow up to the sound of ringing bells reverberating through the streets, accompanied by the voice of a seller yelling, Bombai Mutai. Thin strands of candy floss are sandwiched between two thin wafer sheets, making for a colorful and distinctive take on cotton candy.

Originally published by ‘The Gazelle’, an NYUAD student publication on 16th October, 2016.