Sri Lanka Food Good food is found in abundance in Sri Lanka

Good food is found in abundance in Sri Lanka, with a wide choice of cuisine to choose from. The Portuguese, Dutch and British invaders as well as the Indian, Arab, Malay and Moor traders have all contributed to the variety of Sri Lankan cuisine.
However, rice is the staple meal, and this is generally consumed with a range of vegetable curries, fish, beef, chicken or egg and a mallum (finely shredded leaves which are slightly stir fried). Vegetarian curries are made from practically every available fruit or vegetable such as brinjals, beans, beetroot, carrot, banana flower, ash plantains, pumpkin etc.
Curries in Sri Lanka are much hotter than those in India. More chilli and spices are added to flavour the dish. However, adjustments are made to this in order to suit the foreign palate. Should you eat something too hot, never reach for water as it does not help. Instead eat a mouth full of plain boiled rice, pasta or noodles, or better still, some cool yoghurt or curd (buffalo yoghurt) or even cucumber.
Curries are usually made with chilli powder, fresh chillies, cinnamon, tumeric, curry powder, curry leaves, onions, garlic, ginger and coconut milk.
Excellent fresh fish is found in coastal towns with prawns, crab and lobsters too. Fish is prepared according to various recipes including fried fish which can be ordered with a plate of chips and salad. ‘Ambul Thiyal’ (sour fish curry) is a popular fish curry found mainly in the south of Sri Lanka. It really is a pickle made from tuna.
Other specialities unique to Sri Lanka are hoppers which are usually consumed either for breakfast or lunch. A regular hopper is similar to a bowl shaped pancake which is crisp at the other edges. There are several varieties of hoppers such as egg hoppers which are made of the usual hopper where an egg is poached into its centre. Milk hoppers and honey hoppers too are delicacies enjoyed by both locals and foreigners.
String hoppers are similar to noodles but all tangled up into a flat circular shape.
This is generally eaten with a coconut sambol, dhal curry and either fish, beef or chicken curry. Pittu, a mixture of flour and grated coconut steamed in a bamboo tube is also a much sought after meal. Lamprais, a popular Dutch dish is rice boiled in beef stock, then added to vegetables and meat and baked in a low oven after it is wrapped in a banana leaf. Baking the rice in a banana leaf gives a special flavour to the rice. Kottu rotti is a filling snack found at street side eating houses. This elasticated doughy pancake is chopped into shreads and stir fried with vegetables, onions, egg and beef or chicken.
Short eats such as chinese rolls (a pancake with a beef, fish, chicken or vegetable filling and fried), cutlets, patties, pastries, hot dogs, ham burgers etc. too are also freely available.
The best way to enjoy Sri Lankan food is eating with your fingers instead of using cutlery. This is the best method of enjoying the flavour combinations from the different curries.
Traditional desserts too are commonly found in Sri Lanka, such as kiri pani (buffalo milk curd and treacle), wattalappam (a Malay origin egg pudding with jaggary or hardened treacle), sweet meats such as kevum (made with flour and treacle) and kalu dodol (jaggery, cashew nuts and coconut milk).
Fruit too is found in abundance. Mangoes, pineapple, water melon, papaya, woodapple (a hard wooden shelled fruit used to make a drink, dessert or jam), bananas (popularly referred to as plantains), rambuttan (a mouth watering fruit similar to lychees, wallnut sized and covered with red or yellow haired skin), and mangosteen (a hard dark purple skin, with sweet sour white segments).
Sri Lanka is famous for its tea, and this is a non alcoholic drink. It is usually prepared with sugar and milk, but could also be consumed only with sugar and this is generally referred to as ‘plain tea’. A piece of crushed ginger too can be added to plain tea to give it a special flavour. Instant coffee and a local version of ground coffee is also available. But a really good espresso can be found only in Colombo.
Cool drinks are either made out of fresh fruit and cordials or the bottled carbonated drinks such as Coca-Cola, Sprite, Pepsi etc. are also available. The most widely found Sri Lankan carbonated soft drink is the Elephant House brnd and ginger-beer is one of the most popular soft drinks in Sri Lanka. A refreshing safe natural drink is the water of a young coconut (kurumba) or the King Coconut or Thambili, an orange coloured drinking coconut. These are cut fresh and given to consumers, therefore the content is uncontaminated.
A variety of locally manufactured and imported beers are available. In addition Sri Lanka has two extremely popular local varieties of intoxicating beverages – toddy, which is derived from palm trees, and arrack, which is the fermented and refined toddy. Arrack is produced in different grades and qualities, and some of it could taste like fire-water!