Sri Lankan cuisine has influences from colonial powers, foreign traders, and Southern India. Some of the main ingredients in Sri Lankan cuisine are rice, coconut, and spices, which are used due to the island’s history as a spice producer and trading post over several centuries.
Dishes: Sri-Lankan cuisine centers around boiled or steamed rice served with a curry of fish, chicken, beef, mutton or goat, along with other curries made with vegetables, lentils or fruit.
Dishes are accompanied by pickled fruit or vegetables, chutneys, and sambols, especially coconut sambol, a paste of ground coconut mixed with chili peppers, dried Maldive fish and lime juice.
Kottu: Kottu is a spicy Sri-Lankan stir-fry of shredded roti bread with vegetables. Other optional ingredients in Kottu include egg, meat or cheese.
Hoppers: Hoppers (appa) are a range of dishes based on a fermented batter, usually made of rice flour and coconut milk with spices that is pan fried or steamed. The fermenting agent is palm toddy or yeast. Hopper variants can be either savory (such as egg hoppers, milk hoppers, and string hoppers) or they can be sweet hoppers (such as vandu appa and pani appa). Savory hoppers are often accompanied by lunu miris, a mix of red onions and spices.
String Hoppers: String hoppers (idiyappa) are made from hot-water dough of rice meal or wheat flour. This is pressed out in circlets from a string mould onto little wicker mats, which is then steamed.
Lamprais: Lamprais is rice boiled in stock accompanied by frikkadels (frikadeller meatballs), a mixed meat curry, blachan, aubergine curry, and seeni sambol, all of which is then wrapped in a banana leaf and baked in an oven. It is a Dutch Burgher-influenced Sri-Lankan dish.
Kool: Kool is a seafood broth from Jaffna with crab, fish, cuttlefish, prawns and crayfish, along with long beans, jak seeds, manioc, spinach and tamarind. The dish is thickened with palmyra root flour.
Pittu: Pittu are cylinders of steamed rice mixed with grated coconut.
Roti: Gothamba ma roti is a simple Sri-Lankan flat-bread usually made from wheat flour. A variant is thengappu (Pol in Sinhalese) roti, in which shredded coconut is mixed into dough. Uraippu roti (spicy roti) is another variant, in which chopped onions and green chilies are used when making the dough.
Sweets: Kevum oil cake is made with rice flour and treacle and deep-fried to a golden brown. Moong Kevum is a variant where mung bean flour is made into a paste and shaped like diamonds before frying. Other types of kevum are athiraha, konda kevum, athirasa, and handi kevum. Many sweets are served with kiribath milk rice during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. Other sweets include:
> Undu Walalu/Undu wal or Pani walalu – A sweet from the Mathale area, prepared using urad bean flour and kithul treacle.
> Aluwa – Diamond-shaped rice-flour pastries
> Aggala – Rice balls flavored with treacle
> Kalu Dodol – A solid toffee-, jelly-like confection made by lengthy reduction of coconut milk thickened with rice flour and sweetened with jaggery.
> Weli Thalapa – Made from rice flour, coconut treacle.
> Watalappam – A steamed pudding made with coconut milk, eggs, and jaggery. It has become a staple Sri Lankan dessert, first introduced by the Malay immigrants.
> Bibikkan – A rich, cake-like sweet made from grated coconut, coconut treacle, and wheat flour. It is a speciality of coastal areas.
> Kokis – A savoury crispy biscuit-like dish made from rice flour and coconut milk.
> Thala Guli – Made from ground sesame and jaggery with finely grated coconut.
> Pushnambu – A rich, cake-like sweet made from coconut treacle and wheat flour. Cinnamon/cardamom and sweet cumin is often added as a specialty of the Christian population of Sri Lanka.
> Aasmi – Made with rice flour and the juice of a leaf called dawul kurundu, (okra juice can be used as a substitute) deep fried and topped with pink-colored treacle.
> Kiri Toffee – Made with sweetened condensed milk or sugar-thickened pure cow’s milk. Cardamom/sweet cumin and cashews are added for more taste.
“Short eats” refers to a variety of snacks that are bought and eaten by the dozen from “short eat” shops and restaurants. These are eaten on-the-go, mainly for breakfast or during the evening. Short eats include pastries, Chinese rolls and patties. A popular short eat among Tamils is the Mutton Roll, made from tender pieces of mutton with potato and seasoned with spices. This can be very spicy. Mutton rolls are served all over the world wherever there are Sri Lankan Tamils.
Other short eats:
Vade —parippu vade, ulundu vade, isso (shrimp) vade,crab vade
Chinese rolls or egg rolls, which often contain minced meats, potatoes, and vegetables
Patties & pastries recipe- filled with vegetables, meat, or fish
Vegetable/fish roti —a flatbread with a filling rolled into a triangular shape and baked
Short eats are served at parties or to guests when they visit a home. Fast food such as hot dogs and hamburgers have arrived in Sri Lanka, with the globalization of McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut fast-food chains, but these are not usually considered to be short eats. Additionally, hot dogs and hamburgers have also been modified to fit local tastes.
Beverages commonly served in Sri Lanka include
Faluda – a mixture of syrup, ice cream, jelly pieces and basil seeds, served cold
Fruit juices – especially passionfruit juice
Toddy – a mildly alcoholic drink made from palm tree sap
Arrack – a distilled spirit made from coconut