1. Live Seafood
Island life in Sri Lanka includes a whole lot of fresh seafood at meal times! Restaurants located by the beachside promote elite dining experiences by offering a wide range of live seafood. Customers can take their pick of fish and also choose from a variety of cooking options depending on how they’d like to eat their seafood. So what’s better than indulging in freshly prepared mullet, succulent prawns and so on. Fish curries are another specialty in Sri Lanka. usually cooked in a spicy, coconut-milk based gravy is a favorite amongst locals. Sun-dried fish and other dried seafood such as prawns, tuna, and salmon are commonly added to enhance the flavor of curries and other dishes such as the coconut sambol. The fish markets in Negombo, Weligama and Mirissa are popularly known for distributing some of the best crab, cuttlefish, and lobsters across the country. If you have Negombo or the southern coast in your Sri Lanka Tour itinerary, a visit to these fish markets is a must.
2. Street Fruits
We’ve all surely heard of each country having its own street FOOD. But street FRUITS? Sri Lanka has a few seasonal fruits being retailed on the streets and a visit to these stalls in itself is often referred to as an ‘outing’. Tropical fruits such as pineapples, papaya, passion fruit and about 4-5 varieties of bananas are available at most grocery stores and roadside vendors. But look out for those dark purple, circular-shaped mangosteen that taste similar to grapes. Also loved is the sweet-tasting rambutan that is red and extremely hairy on the outside and taste like lychee from inside. Another popular one is the durian that has a strong smell, creamy taste and looks like jackfruit from out with sharp points that can hurt you so be careful and let the vendor open the fruit while you watch. Other specialties include the custard apple, lovi, wood apple, and belly fruit. You’ve got to try at least a few of these street fruits when in Sri Lanka. Most of them have to be peeled before eating so hygiene concerns are waived off there.
3. Snack Styled Meals
Savory pastries and rolls are a common form of ‘short eats’ or snacks in Sri Lanka which people prefer to indulge in as an alternative to light and quick meal. The varieties usually include miniature bread, buns, pastries and rolls with filling varieties such as vegetable, chicken, fish, or seeni sambol (caramelized and spiced onions). Rolls are made with fried pancakes and a spicy filling at the center and then rolled, dipped in batter, bread crumbs and then completely deep-fried for a finish. Cutlets are another Lankan specialty – deep-fried soft round balls of veg or meat filling. Most bakeries across the country serve these short eats and you can also find them at roadside vendors in the evenings. Beware of the spice levels in these savories as they are often meant for a good dose of chili kick!
4. Authentic Breakfast Menu
Sri Lanka is one of the few countries that offers a wide range of local cuisine for breakfast. Drive through the streets of any town or city and notice cooks working hard trying to juggle varieties over an open fire. Hoppers – bowl-shaped pancakes – are one of the mains for breakfast. The batter is made from a mix of rice flour and coconut milk, and this dish itself comes in a few flavors such as egg, milk, jaggery and plain. Coconut roti, Pittu, Kiribath (milk rice) and String hoppers are a few other breakfast varieties served with Dhal curry, a choice of meat curry and coconut sambol. In Sri Lanka, most of these are also served at dinner.
Tip: If you visit popular local restaurants such as Nuga Gama, Palmyrah or Kaema Sutra, the bow-shaped hoppers come in additional flavors such as cheese, minced meat, fried onions and more. Also, the best string hoppers in town, soft and succulent, are often found in minivans and tuk-tuks that are transformed into roadside stalls after dusk.
5. Feast on Rice and Curry
Don’t be surprised if you order a rice and curry meal in Sri Lanka and see a humongous serving of rice on your plate along with 4-5 bowls of different curry varieties. Rice and curry do not mean just one curry, Sri Lankans need a variety of curries with a huge serving of rice to satisfy their rice cravings! Well, rice is the staple food in Sri Lanka so you must expect that. It is white samba rice that is usually served for this meal along with dhal, vegetable curries such as jackfruit, brinjal, green beans, potatoes, beetroot, and a meat variety. These curries are a feast for vegetarians. In fact, the Telegraph UK classifies Sri Lanka as one of six beautiful destinations that make it easy for vegans to travel to.