A Guide to Sri Lanka Cuisine

A Guide to Sri Lanka Cuisine

You might not have an idea about Sri Lanka cuisine if you have not travelled to Sri Lanka before. Because you rarely find typical Sri Lankan dishes outside of Sri Lanka. Similar to most other kitchens in Asian regions Sri Lanka cuisines are also spicy, maybe spicier than most of them.

How to experience Sri Lanka food

Sri Lanka offers a large number of must-see places and same time Sri Lanka offers many delicious food varieties to taste. Venturing on a Sri Lanka food tour is the best way to enjoy typical Sri Lankan food. In fact, many local tour operators offer Sri Lanka food tours for foodie travellers. Sri Lanka food tours can be booked from beach resorts as well as many other places such as Habarana, Sigiriya, and Kandy as well as in southern Sri Lanka.

Rice and Curry an important part of Sri Lanka Cuisine

Rice is the staple food in many other Asian nations such as Thailand, and China but Sri Lankans eat a lot of fish and not much beef, chicken, pork and other meat items. You can discover fresh ingredients, and delicious local dishes, and you might find some of the flavours are familiar if you eat Thai, Indian, and Chinese food at home.

Sri Lanka food tour

Basis of typical Sri Lanka cuisine

Rice, spices, coconut milk, vegetable and fish make the basis of typical Sri Lankan cuisine, and there are several regional varieties too. Sri Lanka has a multi-cultural, multi-religious society resulted due to the migration of people over the centuries from other countries around the world.

Therefore Sri Lankan people share certain cooking habits and styles with many Asian and Arabian countries like India, Thailand, and China. Dutch, English and Portuguese are other Sri Lankan traits- a legacy of Sri Lanka’s colonial past, the tourists can buy everything from croissants and pate to filled baguettes here.

A quick guide to Sri Lanka cuisine

Most travellers look for Sri Lanka’s traditional dishes during their Sri Lanka road trip, because tasting as many different varieties of Sri Lankan food is a wish of most foreign travellers in Sri Lanka. Fortunately, most hotels know it: and they are ready to satisfy the foodie wishes of travellers.

Most Sri Lankan hotels provide a large array of food varieties and including European foods, Asian foods and typical Sri Lankan foods. Usually, the buffets at most hotels and restaurants are stocked with European food, Asian food, Arabian food as well as Indian food. Some times there is a separate corner only for Sri Lankan food, making it possible for foreign travellers to taste the typical Sri Lankan cuisines.


Rice is the national staple, Sri Lankans eat rice for all main meals (Breakfast, Lunch and dinner). Usually, the rice is served with several different varieties of curries. Sri Lankan rice is served on plates, in some eateries the rice is served in a banana leaf, the traditional way of serving food. Rice is available in many different varieties, but the most popular is the white kind, which has a lovely bite as well as a little bit of sweetness with a nutty flavour. Traditionally Sri Lankan is eating by hand (right hand).

Ambul Thiyal

A thick dark-coloured thick sauce, it is made with coconut milk and fresh fish. It is a common food item found on many special, occasions such as parties. The best Aambulthiyal is coming from fishing areas of southern Sri Lanka.

Fish white curry

This is one of the most popular Sri Lankan curries. it can be prepared with vegetables, fish or meat. A lot of spices are added to the curry but only a moderate amount of chilli powder is added to the white curry in order to keep the spiciness at its lowest.

Fish, chicken, pork, and beef are popular and coconut milk, cardamom, chilli, onion, and many other spices are added to them. It’s often served with young curry leaves, which adds extra aroma to the curry. Curry leave supposes to have many health effects such as improving the digestive power too.

Red curry

This is one of the most favourites among the local people and but it is very spicy. maybe it is not something for European taste buds. It has a red, yellowish colour due to the addition of an extensive amount of dry-chilli powder and powdered spices such as nutmeg, cardamom, saffron etc.

Meat curry

This spicy curry is another staple. It is served as an accompaniment to rice, the main ingredients are curry powder, coconut milk, chilli powder and vegetable or meat or fish and herbs. many other ingredients also can be added, like tomato, onion, crab, and shrimp.

Cube salad

This healthy salad is known as “cube salad”. many varieties of vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and beat are cut into small cubes and mixed. it is also spiced up with a bit of salt and pepper.


This is another traditional dish and is available on most special occasions such as a wedding party. It is prepared from fresh green papaya fruit, small onion, chilli, vinegar, a bit of salt, and several other spices such as cumin seeds. It has a very distinct flavour, the papaya fruit adds a refreshing twang, and other ingredients add savour and spiciness. similar kind of dishes is available in many other countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and India.

Sri Lankan sausages

Known locally as “Lingus”, Sri Lanka sausages are usually made with seasoned beef, pork, and chicken. It is available in many flavours such as lemongrass, Beef sausages are also available. Common flavourings include lemongrass, onion, and chilli flavour. It is best suitable as a part of a meal or as a snack, don’t forget to try different sausages during your Sri Lanka tour. Usually, it is included in breakfast.


Wade is made of dhal, spices and a bit of salt. Dhal is made into a thick paste and turned into small thick rounded biscuits or small balls (the size of a golf ball) and deep-fried. It has a rich crispy flavour. Usually, the small meal carts that sell deeply fried Wade show up in the late evening and sell the deep-fried many items till late at night.

Barbecued chicken

Wander through the streets of main cities and you will find many varieties of items such as wade being cooked in deep oil and marinated chicken being cooked in barbeque machines. The barbecue chicken is sold in most local restaurants and it is available late in the evening till late at night. So you have to come to the road in the late evening or at night. Several Supermarkets are also selling barbeque chicken. You definitely find deep-fried items such as wade and barbeque chicken very delicious.


Usually, the noodles are served either for breakfast or dinner and are available in several varieties. soup noodles variety is also available for breakfast. Usually, the noodles are made of rice flour and wheat flour noodles are also available. Noodles are cooked in boiled water and later mixed with fried vegetables, eggs, a variety of meat and spices.


European colonial-influenced foods are available throughout the island, but this colonial legacy is most visible in major cities. bakeries are restaurants are selling everything from croissants to escargots. However, most of them come with a twist of Sri Lankan spicy flavour. “Fish buns”, “meat buns”, “egg buns” and submarine- essentially inherited from French baguette- are stuffed with meat, fish, egg and spicy cooked vegetable paste. for example, Sri Lankan style spring roll, sometimes prepared with European-stye filling like soft cheese or pesto.


This is a sweet snack or a dessert, “Kawum” is made from rice flour, coconut honey, and coconut milk. You might not able to find them on the street markets but in several restaurants. In very few places such as zone Moratuwa, you can see a white thick liquid being poured into small moulds residing in a heated oil of a cast-iron pan. Kawum is tasted best when they are hot and fresh from the pan.

Wide appeal

Sri Lanka opens your mind and eyes to a whole new area of flavours and teaches you more about culinary diversity across south Asia. usage of spices and freshly prepared food make Sri Lankan food a relatively healthy option, and the vividness of varieties is another plus – as well as a variety of dishes, Sri Lanka offers a full spectrum of dining options, from street meal crats to bakeries, to fine dining restaurants.