Our top picks of must-try foods in Sri Lanka

Eat your way through Sri Lanka. Source: Shutterstock.

SRI LANKAN cuisine is a fusion of flavors, spices, and textures.

A nation that has gone through centuries of trade and colonization, Sri Lankan cuisine is influenced by Indian, Malay, Dutch, Portuguese, English and indigenous flavors.

Coupled with a tropical climate that provides coconuts, vegetables, spices and fresh seafood in abundance, Sri Lankan food will surely tantalize your taste buds.

So, get your taste buds ready (and your stomachs empty), for here are our top picks of must-try foods in Sri Lanka:

Egg hoppers

Hoppers are breakfast meals in Sri Lanka – the savory, bowl-shaped thin pancakes are made from a batter of fermented rice flour, coconut milk, coconut water and a sprinkling of sugar

The batter is fried in a small wok and swirled around to cover the sides of the pan.

Egg hoppers are the same except that an egg is broken into the batter while it’s being cooked. Both hoppers and egg hoppers are served with coconut sambol and chili paste.

String hoppers

String hoppers are also a popular breakfast in Sri Lanka. Made of rice flour and pressed through a hopper press to produce nest-like noodles.

The noodle-shaped rice flour is then steamed and eaten with coconut sambol, dhal curry, and coconut milk curry.

Coconut sambol

Coconut is of ultimate importance as it plays a key role in a number of dishes in Sri Lanka from side dishes, curries, desserts to drinks.

Coconut sambol or pol sambol is a mix of finely-grated coconut, dried red chilies, red onions, lime juice, salt and a dash of Maldives fish or cured tuna. It is perfect to eat with hoppers and string hoppers, rotis, paratha, and rice and curry.

Coconut sambol can also be eaten with slices of bread as a light snack.

Rice and curry

The national food of Sri Lanka is none other than the good ol’ dish of rice and curry.

A rice and curry dish in Sri Lanka is a plate of rice generally served with a variety of curries (potato, eggplant, green banana, chicken or fish), pickles, sambols and a handful of poppadums.

You may assume that Sri Lankan curry is just the same as Indian curry but not quite as the former is coconut milk-based and has fiercer flavors with hot chili sambol.


Kottu is a famous Sri Lankan street food made of flatbread, vegetables, oil, spices, and egg or chicken, finely chopped and mashed on a hot plate with two metal spatulas.

The way the cook chops and mashes the mixture of food has a certain rhythm, and every kottu cook has his own personal rhythm.

If you walk along the busy streets of Colombo or any suburban part of the island, you will surely hear the kottu cook chopping from a fair distance away.

Buffalo curd

Buffalo curd is a must-try dessert or sweet in Sri Lanka. Often sold in a small terracotta bowl, the curd is made of buffalo milk and is best eaten with toddy palm syrup.

If you like eating yogurt, then buffalo curd is heaven-sent on this teardrop-shaped island.