Sri Lanka is a popular tourist destination thanks to its beautiful sandy coastline, lush mountainous
landscape, and fascinating culture. It´s also known for its rich, flavourful food which is influenced by
Indian, Malay, Dutch, and Portuguese cuisine. If you´re planning a trip to Sri Lanka, be sure to sample
these four authentic dishes to fully appreciate the deliciousness of traditional Sri Lankan food.
Table of Contents
1. Kottu roti, the ultimate Sri Lankan street food
The ultimate street food in Sri Lanka is kottu roti, a stir-fry dish that is traditionally made from
leftovers. Vendors on street stalls use large cleavers to rhythmically slice flatbread (roti) into fine
slices along with meat, vegetables, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and spices. This takes place on an iron
skillet to heat the dish through and crisp the edges of the roti. Kottu roti is a simple yet delicious and
satisfying dish that you shouldn´t miss out on. You´ll often find kottu makers at work in the evenings
to use up the day´s leftover ingredients.
2. Dhal curry, the ultimate Sri Lankan comfort food
For a taste of Sri Lankan comfort food, try dhal curry. This fresh and flavourful dish is made with red
lentils cooked in coconut milk, combined with sauteed tomatoes, onions, and fresh chilies, and
seasoned with cumin seeds, cinnamon, fenugreek, turmeric, mustard seeds, and pandan leaves. The
dish has a rich, creamy texture thanks to the coconut milk and it´s perfect over rice or used as a
dipping gravy for fresh roti. Dhal curry is especially tasty when cooked in a traditional clay pot which
helps the dish retain its flavour, moisture, and nutrients.
3. Wood apple juice, the thirst quencher
The wood apple, also known as the elephant apple and bael fruit, is a round fruit with a tough, bark-
like an outer shell protecting a sweet, soft pulp inside. The pulp is combined with sugar syrup and a
variety of spices to create a refreshing sweet drink that you can find at food stalls and markets
throughout Sri Lanka. Since Sri Lanka gets very hot – between 29°C and 31°C all year round – it´s
important to stay hydrated and consume lots of liquids during your trip. Wood apple juice is thought to boost energy and prevent sunstroke, making it the perfect drink to enjoy during Sri Lanka´s midday heat.
4. Love Cake
Love cake is traditionally baked to celebrate special occasions in Sri Lanka. It's made from semolina,
cashews, pumpkin, butter, eggs, honey, and sugar, and flavoured with fragrant rose water, nutmeg,
cardamom, and cinnamon. It has a moist, chewy texture in the middle with a light, crunchy exterior.
This cake dates back to the 16th century when Portuguese settlers created it by blending traditional
Portuguese cake recipes with local Sri Lankan spices. It´s said that the cake is named as such because
it takes lots of love and cares to make and that someone can´t help but fall in love with the baker of a
good love cake.
Discover Sri Lankan cuisine on your next trip
One of the best things about visiting a new country is sampling its traditional cuisine, so be sure to
try these four delicious dishes when you reach the beautiful island of Sri Lanka.
Follow the rest of the Sri Lanka series
- THINGS I LOVE ABOUT SRI LANKA
- COLOMBO VIBES
- HOW TO ENJOY COLOMBO IN 2 DAYS
- SLOW TRAVELLING IN KANDY
- STILT FISHERMEN OF SRI LANKA
- MIRISSA DAYS
- SIGIRIYA TRAVEL GUIDE
- CLASSICAL POLONNARUWA
- PAINTED CAVES OF DAMBULLA
- SRI LANKAN HILL COUNTRY HIGHLIGHTS
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE