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Foodie’s guide to Sri Lanka
Here’s a guide to our favourite local street-food delicacies to sample during your stay…
This delicacy is one of Sri Lanka’s most well-loved dishes and perfect for those who love to try traditional local food. The basis of this meal is essentially rice cooked with coconut milk, giving it the name kiribath (milk rice). Once cooked, the rice is typically pressed and formed into large diamond shapes. To counterbalance the mild, creamy taste of the coconut, kiribath is usually served alongside a spicy side-dish or chilli paste. If you prefer sweet instead of savoury, opt for kiribath with fruit or sweets.
The ultimate Sri Lankan street food, kottu roti is supremely popular with both locals and tourists alike – it can be found on street stalls as well as in fine-dining restaurants. It is made by frying together roti (a type of flatbread) with shredded vegetables (or meat) before mixing in a delicious blend of spices, garlic and soy sauce. Kottu roti will likely taste different depending on your location as most people will use whatever ingredients they have available. Common ingredients however include onions, carrot, egg, bacon and cabbage.
The perfect start to any day, egg hoppers is a delectable breakfast treat that will keep you full right past lunchtime. A pancake mixture (made up of rice flour, coconut milk, coconut water and sugar) is poured into a wok – or another rounded dish – to form a pancake “bowl”. The middle of the bowl remains soft whilst the outside and edges turn delightfully crispy. Sri Lankan’s make egg hoppers unique by serving it with sambal – a fiery chilli paste.
Dhal curry with rice
No food list would be complete without mentioning rice and curry – rice being the basis for many of Sri Lanka’s favourite foods. Dhal curry is very popular, consisting of delicious red lentils, thick coconut milk, fresh chillies, tomatoes and caramelised onions. Punchy and fragrant spices are a standard and typically include turmeric, mustard seeds, pandan leaves, cumin seeds and fenugreek. Traditionally prepared in an earthen pot, dhal curry expertly balances the spiciness of the vegetables and meat with beautifully cooked soft rice.
Sri Lanka is famous for its mouth-watering treats and delicious sweets. Watalappan for example is a dessert that has been popular since the 1900s, and can be found in most parts of Sri Lanka. It has a mousse/custard like consistency, and is traditionally made from coconut milk, jiggery (brown sugar), cashew nuts and eggs. The dessert is enhanced by the addition of cardamom and cloves, which adds a delicious hint of spice to an otherwise sweet flavour.
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