Sri Lankan Cuisine, well-known rice & curry cuisine offers an extraordinary combination of flavours: from acute coconut sambol by spicy curry combined with delicate rice and ending with wonderfully sweet desserts. One can never tire of this.
For pasta and pancake lovers, great news! You can eat noodle in the fo rm of a pancake and a pancake in the form of a cup.
Where do these flavours come from?
The stormy history, frequent invasions of neighbours or colonists left a mark on the local cuisine. There are additions of Indian, Arabic, Malay, Portuguese, Dutch and English cuisine. If we add the rich taste of spices combined with the exotic taste of fruits or vegetables and fresh fish taste, we will get the true taste of Sri Lanka.
What ingredients distinguish Sri Lankan Cuisine?
- The basis is rice, coconut and spices
- The island reportedly grows 15 varieties of rice and is used in the kitchen as an addition to curry or desserts. Rice is in the form of rice flour, as well
- Coconut in the form of fresh chips or coconut milk is added to countless dishes
- Coconut oil as vegetable fat
- “Kithul Treacle”— is palm syrup, “Jaggery” — unrefined palm sugar
- The characteristic spaces include fresh curry and pandan leaves, garlic, shallots, ginger, chillies, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and a special curry blends or masala blends.
- Lentils, mainly red to lentil curry (dhal) and vadai cutlets
- Roti are different types of eaten pancakes, widely eaten with a curry.
Tea with cinnamon, why not ?
Sri Lankan spices have been around for centuries, and their health values are also used in traditional medicine.
The tea brought to the island by the British, is served in the form of strong infusions most often with milk. The most popular is black tea, but green is also generally available. There are also special varieties with an extremely delicate taste and with great health benefits; E.g. white, silver and gold.
Before going to Sri Lanka, my experiences combining tea with different spices or fruits were not very successful. I am also a devotee of plain and simple tea.
I must admit, however, that when I got to taste a few flavoured tea, after not waiting to taste them, I changed my mind.
Since then, I am a fan of cinnamon tea, I recommend !!!
Breakfast, time for pancakes.
Imagine a feast of pancakes, roties, various sauces and fruits. This is the Sri Lankan breakfast. Some the most popular dishes are:
Hoppers — pancakes in the form of cups are served for breakfast very often.
They may be with a fried egg on the bottom, or with curry or something sweet, for example with palm syrup and yogurt.
String hoppers are noodle made of rice flour, rolled up like a pancake and steamed. Served with sambol, curry or sweet coconut filling.
Kiribath is rice cooked in coconut milk, served in many ways — I most liked this with sweet fruit or syrup. Also, pittu — fresh coconut mixed with rice flour, steamed in cylindrical cast.
Hoppers – a pancake in the form of a cup.
Kiribath, rice cooked with coconut milk.
Lawaria – string hoppers with coconut filling
What is eaten every day and on holidays?
The most basic meal is rice with vegetable curry, served with spicy additives, which stimulate the taste buds, for example pol sambol (coconut salad) or pickles (marinated vegetables) or chutney (sweet exotic sauce).
A more sumptuous meal can include a variety of salads and, additionally, many kinds of curries, both vegetable and fruit, meat or fish. They differ not only in ingredients but also in colour and sharpness. It is extremely colourful and an inviting way to look like a table set with different coloured bowls. The taste experience further deepens the possibility of mixing them together in one meal, at own discretion.
Finally, desserts are served. The choices mainly begin with cakes or cookies, baked or fried. Especially for the New Year’s holiday, religious holidays or great family celebrations abound with countless sweetness.
The two most famous desserts are of Portuguese origin “ love cake’ — very popular for birthday and wedding parties or the second, “watalappam” — steamed coconut cream with many spicy condiments.
A natural yogurt called “curd” with palm syrup and wonderful local fruits were my favourite.
Tasting great and very easy to make are pancakes stuffed with coconut flakes. My moment of triumph was baking something called “ Weli Thalapa”. I was even praised by my srilankan teacher for baking this cake.
What about a snack?
Trying local street food is a good and quick way to familiarize with with local snacks, and the sound of the “kottu roti” being produced, now is a sound of a srilankan street. You can also try different types of pancakes, dumplings, chops, fried small fish or vegetables with more or sometimes less known names such as hoppers, samosa, roti, masala vadai, patties, stir-fried chickpeas and a few others. Many tourists complain about the heat of the dishes, but few not all of us can find a dish with to suit one’s palette.
I love Sri Lankan food, especially the vegetable dishes, the fish and sun ripe fruit because it is a real mecca for vegetarians.
The Sri Lankans are very hospitable and respectful to food. Sharing food with their loved ones, neighbours or even casual visitors is very important to them. Local housewives prepare home-made meals with great care, using only healthy and fresh produce.
Undoubtedly, the most delicious meals are prepared in local homes. It is where I learned to cook and hopefully give you some new inspirations.
To try and taste is the only way to truly discover. I highly recommend you open up your mind well to a wealth of flavours that is Sri Lanka.
Maybe you have your own experiences to share?