Foods in Sri Lanka can be hot or very mild or can be combination being very much a question of individual preference. Sri Lankan food is unique for their Culture. Many Sinhala food items are derived from Chena cultivation. Sri Lankan cuisine plays a vital role in the islanders’ life from the most auspicious Sinhala/ Hindu New Year to normal day-to-day practices. They make milk rice and special sweets with coconut milk, floor and Honey at cultural festivals. It is recognized as one of the sixty- four types of art, “Siu Seta kalawa”. The curries come in many verities of colors and flavors blended in Sri Lankan Hot Spices has a great ayurvedic value when used in curries.
Most of the Sri Lankans eat vegetables. With a large community of farmers the Rice and curry is the main food in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka curries are known for their fiery hot spicy flavors and coconut milk is very distinct feature of Sri Lankan cuisine that different regions of country specialize in different types of dishes. The specialty in Sri Lankan food is that same food is differently made in different regions. Dishes from the North region of Sri Lanka have distinct south Indian flavors.
Dishes from the South region of Sri Lanka can be Spicy, Hot or Mild. The meals of the southern region of Sri Lanka are known for their variety and fishing village though the coastal strip. Ambulthiyal a unique spicy fish preparation with thick gamboges “Goraka” paste.
Certain types of fish Balaya , Kelawalla are native to Southern seas. “Lunu dehi” (lime pickle) and jaadi (Pikled fish) are food items made from methods of preserving since they could dry them in sun during rainless days. Western region of Sri Lanka has foreign influence much more than other regions. Many items made using wheat flour always had made Sri Lankan dishes foreign. Since upper western coastal region is dry, fish is dried with salt as a preservative. This is called “Karawala” (dry fish).
Spices such as Cloves, Cardamoms, nutmeg and pepper are found in abundance throughout Kandy and Matale District in Central region of Sri Lanka. Eastern province constitutes three major ethnic groups. Sinhala, Muslim and Tamil, Chena cultivation, Game meat from nearby forests and dry Weather have influenced many food items. Staple diet of Sri Lanka is ‘Rice and curry’ the word ‘curry’ convering a multitude of dishes which are made according to different methods of cooking from Soups, meat, Sea food, Lentils, Vegetables, Sambols, Mallums, Phies to Achcharus. Curd and Treacle and Sweetmeats made from Rice flour and palm treacle, jiggery along with various types of fruits are additions to the meal as the dessert. The Palm, Coconut, Kithul, Palmyra from which the treacle is made will vary accordingly. Sri Lankans also like several juicy sweetmeats like Kavum, kokis, Halape, Thalaguli and Wattalapam etc. Sri Lankans also like to have drinks like tea and coffee.
Milk Rice (Kiri Bath)
Milk rice or Kiribath is a traditional Sri Lankan dish made from rice. It is a popular festive dish or any auspicious moment.The dish is prepared by cooking rice with coconut milk, hence this name. The recipe for Kiribath is fairly simple.
How to prepare Milk Rice in Sri Lanka
1) 2 cups short grain white rice
2) 3 cups water
3) 2 cups thick coconut milk
4) 2 teaspoons salt
5) 1 stick cinnamon, optional
Wash rice and put rice and water into a pan and bring to the boil. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add coconut milk, salt and cinnamon, stir well with handle of a wooden spoon, cover pan and simmer on low heat for further 10-15 minutes, when all the coconut milk should be absorbed. Remove cinnamon, cool slightly, then turn out on to a flat plate. Mark off in diamond shapes and serve with bananas, Jaggery or chili paste.
Rice and Curry in Sri Lanka
Rice is the staple food of the Sri Lankans. Almost every household in Sri Lanka takes rice and curry as its main meal. Meat, fish and vegetables are prepared as curries. Sliced onions, green chilies, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and saffron are used to add flavors. A basic rice and curry requires one fish (or beef or chicken) curry, two different vegetables, one portion of fried crispy stuff like ‘papadam’, a ‘mallum’ of chopped leaves and coconut, and a gravy or ‘hodda’ of spiced and cooked with coconut milk.
Sour fish curry (Malu Ambul thiyal)
Malu Ambulthiyal a unique spicy fish preparation with thick gamboges ‘Goraka’ paste. This is a very popular dish of a fish steak (usually an oily fish like kingfish) in a sour curry sauce. Sri Lanka has a great selection of delicious fish. Best accompaniment if you want to bring down a few blocks of milk rice or a few hoppers and pittu as well.
How to prepare Sour fish curry (Malu Ambul thiyal) in Sri Lanka
1) 500g fish
2) ½ onion- sliced
3) 8 tablespoons black pepper
4) 10 gambooge (goraka)
5) ½ tablespoon chili powder
6) ¼ teaspoon turmeric
7) 3 curry leaves
8) salt – to taste
9) 3 cups water (It is depend on the size of the saucepan)
* In a small saucepan boil gambooge with 1/2cup of water. When it is boiled take out the gambooge and minced it with little boiled water. It should be a fine paste in the end.
* Cut the fish into pieces and wash it well with salt mix water and put it into a saucepan. Then put all the rest of the ingredients, including gambooge paste into the saucepan & mix well with fish pieces with little water. Do not break the pieces.
* Final step is put the rest of the water (2 1/2cups) in to the saucepan and cook the fish in medium heat till the gravy is become so thick.
Taste for salt.
Potato Curry (Ala Hodi)
Boiled potatoes well cooked on thick coconut milk is the basic recipe of this particular food item. Selected as one of the favorite curries among the local citizens, Potato curry can be accompanied with almost any main course and nutritious wise the curry it self stands on a stable stage.
How to prepare Potato Curry in Sri Lanka
1) 2 Large potatoes (peeled, washed and chopped into cubes)
2) 1 Large onion chopped length wise
3) 2 Green or red (dried) chillies
4) 1 tbsp Fenugreek
5) 2 tbsp Oil
6) 1-2 tbsp Curry powder (adjust to taste)
7) Curry leaves
8) Salt to taste
9) Cocunut Milk
10) Tamarind water
11) Lemon juice (optional)
* Heat the oil in a wok or a saucepan and add fenugreek first followed by onions (Fenugreek goes brown very fast ).
* Add chillies and curry leaves, fry till golden
* Add potato fry for 2 minutes
* Add salt and chilli powder fry for another minute
* Then add water or coconut milk to cover the potatoes
* Let it cook for about 10 minutes while stirring in between (Taste test the salt)
* Once the potatoes are cooked stir well and the curry is ready. At this stage add milk or coconut milk to make more gravy. Can also add tamarind water or lemon juice to finish it off.
How to prepare Crab Curry in Sri Lanka
1) 4 Crabs shelled ,cleaned and well washed, cut in half with claws attached
2) 2 tbsp Oil
3) 4 Garlic (crushed)
4) Spring onions
5) 1 inch Ginger (finely chopped)
6) 3 small Red chillies
7) 1 tbsp Oyster sauce
8) 2 tbsp Light Soya sauce
9) 1 tbsp Chopped Coriander leaves
10)1 tbsp Sugar
11)1 tbspTomato puree
12)½ Chicken stock or water
13)2 tsp cup Corn flour
14)Salt to taste
* In a large pan heat oil and fry ginger and garlic
* Add the crabs and cook for 10 minutes, turning it to cook evenly
* Add the sauces, stock, tomato puree and rest of the ingredients and cook for further 5 minutes
* Dissolve the corn flour in a table spoon of cold water and add to the sauce to thicken it
* Finally add the spring onions and coriander leaves
Made with green chili, onions and mustered cream.
How to prepare Achcharu in Sri Lanka
1) 15-20 small Onions (pearl or red onions)
2) 10-15 small green Chilies (each split into two halves)
3) 2 large Carrots (cut into thin strips)
4) 1 small Turnip (cut into thin trianguler shaped pieces)
5) 15-20 small Cauliflower florets (optional)
6) 2 cups Vinegar (Coconut vinegar if available would be ideal)
7) 1 inch piece Ginger root (crushed)
8) 6 cloves Garlic (crushed)
9) 2 tbs black ground Mustard seed
10)1 tbs black ground Pepper
11)pich of Turmeric
12)Salt to taste
Heat 1 cup vinegar in a saucepan. Add onions and simmer for few minutes. Drain the onions and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Add green chilies to hot vinegar and simmer for few minutes. Drain the chilies and add to the onions. Repeat same process with carrots & cauliflower and add to the onions and chillie. Do not heat the turnip but add to the onion mix once cut into pieces. Mix all the vegetables well. To the heated vinegar in the saucepan, add the remaining 1 cup of vinegar and all other ingredients and boil for few minutes. Pour the hot vinegar mix over the onions and vegetables and mix well. Pack into a bottle and leave for a day or two to mature.
There are various types of Hoppers in Sri Lanka. Plain hoppers, egg hoppers, milk hoppers, honey hoppers and string hoppers.
* Plain hoppers are bowl-shaped thin pancakes made from fermented rice flour.
* Egg hoppers are the same as plain hoppers, but an egg is broken into the pancake as it cooks.
* Milk hoppers have a spoonful of thick coconut milk/coconut cream added to the doughy center. When cooked, the center is firm to the touch but remains soft inside and is sweeter as a result of the coconut milk.
* Honey hoppers are crispy pancakes cooked with a generous amount of palm treacle. Some people also like to add some jaggery just before serving to make it extra sweet.
How to prepare the Hoppers (Appa) in Sri Lanka
1) 2 cup(s) raw rice soaked for 4-5 hours
2) 4 cups coconut shavings
3) A pinch of yeast granules dissolved in some coconut water or little hot water
4) salt and sugar to taste
* Drain the soaked rice and grind it along with the coconut shavings and cooked rice to a fine thick paste. Do not add too much water.
* Coconut water may be preferably used instead of water for grinding. Add the yeast and mix lightly. Mix in the salt and sugar to taste.
* Allow to ferment at room temperature for at least 6 hours.
* Heat a small appachatti. Pour approximately half a cup of batter and quickly but gently swirl the pan around such that only a thin layer of the batter covers the sides and a thick layer collects at the bottom.
* Cover with a lid and cook each appam on medium heat for about 3 minutes or till the edges have become golden crisp and the centre is soft and spongy.
String hoppers (Indiappa)
String hoppers is made from rice noodles curled into flat spirals. It is served for breakfast and dinner with a thin fish or chicken curry, containing only one or two pieces of meat, a dhal dish, and a spicy sambol or fresh chutney.
How to prepare String hoppers (Indiappa) in Sri Lanka
1) 3 cups rice flour -roasted
2) 2 – 3 cups warm water
3) Salt to taste
* Heat the water in the saucepan of the steamer and bring it to boil.
* In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and water together.
* Mix it well and form a nice ball which is not sticks on your hands.
* cover it and keep it aside.
* Fill the indiappa maker with the dough, and squeeze it on the top of indiappa watti (Small round trays, which are very special for string hoppers) Make a lace circle with the dough.
* Steam it for nearly 5 – 10 minutes.
* If string hoppers are well cooked, you can just remove it from the tray very easily.
* Repeat the process till the dough is finish.
* Serve with Kiri Hodi (White coconut gravy), Pol Sambola (Coconut Mix with chili), Maalu Ambulthiyal or Chicken Curry.
Roti is a quick meal- and easy to prepare. Wheat, rice or kurakkan (Eleusine coracana, a strongly flavored brown millet)-meal is mixed with fresh grated coconut and a touch of oil and baked on a hot griddle in thin flat cakes.Roti is equally good with chillie relish or with syrup.
Shallots, green chillies, curry leaves and Maldive (cured) fish flakes are akked to ring in the changes. In Sri Lanka also have koththu roti and godamba roti as well.
How to prepare Coconut Roti in Sri Lanka
1) 200g Medium Wholemeal Flour
2) 150ml Luke warm water
3) 2 Tablespoons oil
3) Ghee or butter to spread
4) Salt to taste
5) Grated Coconut
* Take a mixing bowl and add the flour,scraped coconut and oil. Mix the two together with your hands and whilst kneading gradually pour in the water.
* Put the dough on the floured surface and knead it until it is smooth. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.
* Return the dough to the floured surface and divide it into equal parts. Roll each into balls approximately the size of a small peach.
* Flatten each ball using the palms of your hands. Add a little more flour to the work surface and rolling pin, and use the rolling pin to roll the flattened ball into a circle.
* Heat some butter in a cast iron skillet, on medium heat, and place the dough in the pan. Cook it for about a minute, or until it is golden brown and bubbles begin to appear. Turn it over and cook the other side.
Kothu roti is made from Gothamba roti and vegetables, eggs, or meat and various spices. It is a delicious meal generally eaten at dinner time. Apart from the commonest form of Kothu with meat, eggs or vegetables a newer variety with cheese has been introduced. The Gothamba roti is cut or chopped with the use of two metal blades on wooden handles held on both hands on this sheet or skillet.
The clashing of metal blades and the skillet creates a very distinctive musical sound which kind of announces the making of this Kothu to the passersby. This can be made using Parotta and that is how this is made in South India where Parotta is popular as with Gothamba roti in Sri Lanka. The ingredients and method are the same as for Kothu roti using Gothamba roti.
How to prepare Koththu Parotta/Koththu Roti in Sri Lanka
1) Parotta finely chopped (Godamba roti)- 4
2) Onion finely chopped – 1
3) Tomatto finely chopped – 1
4) Curry Leaves – 15
5) Chilli – 2
6) Pepper Powder – 1
7) Chilli Powder – 1/4 spoon
8) Salt to taste
9) Scrambled Eggs – 3
10) Turmeric Powder – 1 pinch
* In a Pan pour 4 spoons oil and then Fry Curry Leaves.
* Put Onion and then fry.Once onion is fryed put tomatto and fry the same.
* Put chilli and fry after tomatto is fryed.Put Chilli Powder ,Pepper Powder , Turmeric Powder,Salt and fry the same.
* Once Step C is done add the scarmbled eggs and then add Parotta and fry the same.Scramble if possible. Check for spice level.Kothu Parotta is ready.
Pittu is a popular and frequently prepared food item among Sri Lankans, both Tamils living in Northern and Eastern parts of Sri lanka as well as Sinhalese living in the rest of the areas of the country.
Traditionally the main ingradient of “Pittu” is rice flour, but kurakkan flour or wheat flour also can be used.
How to prepare pittu in Sri Lanka
1) 1/2 Kg Raw Rice
2) 1/2 grated Coconut
3) Water to sprinkle
4) Salt to taste
* Soak rice in water for 4 hrs, then drain it and grind it to make fine powder.
* Roast the powder for 5 minutes. Stir it well, while heating. Keep it for cooling.
* Mix salt with water ant then sprinkle this to the powdered rice, just to make the powder wet.
* Put a handful of grated coconut in the puttukutty and then put rice powder till half then add another handful of grated coconut.
* This is done till the top. Close the lid steam it for 2 mts in cooker.
* Serve it with potato curry
The Tamils of Sri Lanka who mainly live in the northern and eastern parts of the island have preserced sone of their on distinctive ethnic breakfast. Thosai is a great favourite, delicious and nutritionally perfect. The base for this lentil pancake is oorid,a back-skinned pulse of delicate flavour which is soaked and ground to a smooth batter. The batter is then allowed to rise, flavoured wih fried shallouts, curry leaves, fenugreek and cummin and cooked on a hot griddle greased with sesme oil. Thosai which resembles a tortilla, is eaten with a finely ground coconut and chilly sanbal and is a delicious and satisfying meal.
Uduwel (Peni Walalu)
Peni walalu or Unduwel is a very sweet food, specially in Sinhala & Tamil New Year Season Sri Lanka. Pani Walalu is a Deep Fried Coils of Urad dal & Rice Flour Mixture Soaked in Sugar Syrup.
Aluwa is a sweet food, specially in Sinhala & Tamil New Year Season in Sri Lanka.
How to prepare Aluwa in Sri Lanka
1) 1 1/2 lbs. Rice flour
2) 4 cups Coconut Treacle (available in Sri Lankan Grocery Stores)
3) 25 raw Cashews chopped
* Boil the treacle in a saucepan.
* Add the rice flour and Cashews. Stir until all three are mixed well.
* When the mixture thickens transfer on to a well floured board, spread and form into a 1 inch thick block. Cut into pieces of any shape you prefer.
Mun Keum is a sweet food, specially in Sinhala & Tamil New Year Season in Sri Lanka.
How to prepare Aluwa in Sri Lanka
1) 1 lb Rice flour
2) Mung flour
3) 3 cups Coconut or Kithul Treacle
4) 1 tbs. Ghee or Butter
5) 1 tsp. Salt
6) Vegetable oil for deep frying
Ingredients for the BATTER
1/2 lb Rice flour
1 cup Coconut milk
pinch of Tumeric
1/2 tsp. Salt
* Mix the rice and mung flour to get an even mixture.
* Boil the treacle in a saucepan.
* Add the flour mix.
* When the mixture starts to thicken add butter and salt.
* Transfer the thickend mixtue into an aluminum tray (cookie tray) and
allow to cool.
* Add about 1/2 cup water into the saucepan, leave on the hot plate and
stir until thick syrup like consistency.
* Remove from heat.
* Add small amounts of this syrup to the flour mix in the aluminum tray
and spread into 1/2 -1/4″ thick block.
* Cut into shapes.
Kokis is a food, specially in Sinhala & Tamil New Year Season in Sri Lanka.
How to prepare Kokis in Sri Lanka
1) 2 cup rice flour 2 eggs
2) 1 tbsp sugar (optional) Salt to taste
3) 2 c coconut milk
4) Oil for frying
* Put flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl
* Add about half of the coconut milk to make a smooth paste.
* Beat eggs and gradually add to the batter with the rest of the milk. Beat together until smooth.
* The batter should be thicker than pancake batter.
* Have ready a deep pan of boiling oil. Dip 3/4 of a kokis mold in batter, taking care not to let the batter run over the mold. Plunge the mold into
Saw Dodol (Welithalapa)
Saw Dodol (Welithalapa) is a food, specially in Sinhala & Tamil New Year Season in Sri Lanka.
How to prepare Aluwa in Sri Lanka
1) 2 lbs Rice flour
2) 4 cups thick Coconut milk
3) 4 cups Kithul or Coconut trealce
4) 2 tsp Salt
* In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt thoroughly.
* Add a little coconut milk to the flour and mix until the flour forms into small balls like beads. Do not add water.
* Cover and steam the flour beads for abourt 30 minutes or until cooked.
* Remove from the steamer and separate the flour beads and set aside.
* Boil the treacle and coconut milk in a large saucepan and add the flour beads while stirring.
* Keep stirring the mixture until oil starts to separate.
* Remove from heat. Transfer into a greased dish and shape into a block.
* Cut into pieces of any shape.
Fruits in Sri Lanka
There are various types of fruits in Sri Lanka.
There are various types of Banana Categories in Sri Lanka.
*Embul Kessel: Relatively gives a bit of a sour taste when you eat and much softer yet tastier.
* Seeni Kesel :This is very much sweeter compared to all the other banana types that you will find in Sri Lanka. Average sized and commonly found in all around the island.
* Koli Kuttu: This banana type was mainly used among the up class category and one of top selections when it comes to desserts. It is not that sweet but it will give this welcoming taste which you will tend to eat two or three more and will make your mouth water if you use this as an accompaniment with plain hoppers.
* Aana Maalu :Competitively large in size, this fruit is served for patients recovering from illnesses due to the fact of the teaming nutritious facts of the fruit. Suggest as a dessert after a heavy meal.
* Rathambala :These Bananas are red color.
Mangosteen is a dark purple fruit with luscious translucent segments within. Its flavour may be described as a combination between strawberries and grapes. They are seasonal and are available from July to September. Mangosteens are commonly sold by the roadside at Kalutara.
* Rathu Amba (Red Mangos): Immigrant to Sri Lanka from Malaysia. This fruit is relatively sweet but you have to be lucky to get a tastier one since most of them are sour due to the fact of the various deliberate fruit ripe maneuvers.
* Kartha kollomban (Jaffna mangos): Tropical endemic fruit mainly have roots in Jaffna. This fruit is the sweetest of all the other mangos. Comparatively large in size this fruit (ripe one) will give a heavenly taste when you take the first bite.
* Pol Amba: Large round fruit with small stone.Very fleshy.
The Rambutan tree was originally brought to Sri lanka from Malaya or Malayasia. This fruit is a bright red, maroon or golden skinned and covered with short,fleshy hairs. Inside there is a mouvth- watering, sweet-sour pulp,which covers the single seed. The pulp is sweeter in the better varieties,those in which the pulp easily peels off seed.
The Duriayan is propably the most motorious of tropical fruits due to its unpleasant odour. This fruit, which is round to ovoid and coverd with sharp spines,has a white,custard like pulp regaeded as an aphrodisiac.
The cashew apple is the yellowish-orange part . It is known everywhere as the nut, and the “fruit” sold for eating is a swollen stem. It has a very thin skin-green when unripe and turning to yellow, pink, or more rarely, bright scarlet, when ripe. The ripe fruit is sweet, crisp and juicy with a faint rose perfume.
Considered one of the classic tropical fruits, papaya can be small or large. Papaya juice is a delicious fruit drink and Papaw is often served at breakfast. It is also pickeled and used in curries when unripe.
Pineapple in Sri Lanka are generally small but thirst quenching. A variety of pineapple known as ‘rock pineapple’,which is green and smaller than the mauritius or Kew,grows wild in Sri Lanka.
The wood apple is a fruit with a hard-shell which is a favorite with Elephants, as the wood apple mostly grows in jungle.When ripe the pulp within has a brown color and has slightly sweet sour taste. The pulp is most popular preparation is a drink called divul kiri made with the pulp, treacle and coconut milk.
Four varieties of Custard apple are grown in Sri Lanka and each has an unmistakable flavor,whether sweet or tart. The Custard apple is a lumpy, green fruit with a sweet, custerd-like white pulp embedded with black seeds.