Top Five Must Try Foods in Sri Lanka
First of all, it is not Indian food and not “almost like Indian food”, which is what a lot of people tend to believe when they first arrive to the island (myself included, I have to shamefully admit). The concept of eating rice with several different curries is similar, but everything else from main ingredients to cooking techniques to spices vary.
Second, traditional Sri Lankan food is not all about rice and curry - Sri Lankan cuisine has so much more to offer. With so many ethnicities living in this small country you can’t forget about Tamil, Burgher, and Muslim dishes that are also a part of the local food scene.
We were fortunate to have a personal driver during our time in Sri Lanka, and he always made sure we experienced the best, and most authentic local cuisine, from Colombo to Yala, Udawalawe to Sigiriya and all the way from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya.
1. Pol Roti (Coconut Flat Bread)
One of my favorites, and a great staple - pol roti, are round flat breads made with wheat flour and scraped coconut. Just like roast paan, pol roti go well with coconut sambol and lentil curry. Yes, that means you are eating coconut bread with scraped coconut flesh and a curry made with coconut milk gravy. In case you can't tell - coconut is big here.
2. Prawn Curry
Prawns in Sri Lanka can be cooked in a few different ways: fried with onion, garlic, and chili or cooked in a gravy. Sri Lankans almost never peel prawns before cooking. You can get your hands dirty and peel them yourself or just eat the shell like locals do, especially if the prawns are small.
3. Kalupol Wattaka (Pumpkin Curry)
There are very few pumpkin dishes that make me excited, and Sri Lankan kalupol wattaka is one of them. Possibly, my all time favorite pumpkin dish. Creamy and flavorful, this is one of the so called “yellow curries” that don’t include chili and therefore are not spicy. There’s another reason why I love this curry, and it’s a little crazy. Rice, roasted and blended into grainy powder, is added to kalupol wattaka to thicken gravy. Not only you eat curries with rice, but rice is inside the curry itself too. Only in Sri Lanka!
4. Pineapple Curry
A fruit curry! Yes, it is possible. If pineapple found its way onto a pizza, I think pineapple curry is more than justified. Sri Lankan pineapple is among the best in the world, so while on the island make sure not only to eat it fresh, but try a curried version too. Combined with other dishes, pineapple adds a sweet punch to the explosion of flavors that is Sri Lankan rice and curry.
“Buriyani” is Sri Lankan way of writing and saying the oh-so-familiar in Asian countries “biriyani”. Traditionally an Indian dish, buriyani was brought to Sri Lanka by South Indian Muslims who were trading in the northern part of the island and Colombo in the beginning of XX century, according to Wikipedia. Buriyani is a dish made of fragrant basmati rice, served with fried chicken and mint chutney. Sometimes raita and boiled egg are served along with rice.