5 Best Shri Lanka Food
1. Fish ambul thiyal
As you’d expect from an island in the Indian Ocean, seafood plays an important role in Sri Lankan cuisine. Fish ambul thiyal (sour fish curry) is one of the most beloved varieties of the many different fish curries available.
The fish — usually something large and firm, such as tuna — is cut into cubes, then sauteed in a blend of spices including black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, pandan leaves and curry leaves. Perhaps the most important ingredient is dried goraka, a small fruit responsible for giving the fish a sour flavour.
Ambul thiyal is a dry curry dish, meaning all the ingredients are simmered with a small amount of water and cooked until the liquid reduces. This allows the spice mixture to coat each cube of fish.
Originating in southern Sri Lanka, it’s available throughout the country at restaurants that serve curry, and is best eaten with rice.
Destination Sri Lanka
Over the traffic and noise at a Sri Lankan market, you’ll likely hear the clanking of metal on metal and know kottu isn’t far away. Kottu is Sri Lanka’s hamburger — everybody’s favourite go-to fast food when craving something tasty and greasy.
It resembles fried rice, except instead of rice, it’s made with a type of roti known as godamba roti (a flat, crispy bread).
The roti is normally fried at the beginning of the day, piled into stacks and served as it’s ordered. When you place an order, the kottu chef will fry and chop the roti with a selection of ingredients you choose. The result is a tasty mixture of salty pieces of fried dough, lightly spiced and extremely comforting.
Kottu is served with spicy curry sauce, which you can either use as a dip or pour over your entire plate.
Some of the most skilled kottu chefs compose their own unique songs, singing while they rhythmically clank their spatula and knives against the metal frying surface, slicing the roti with each clank.
3. Rice & Curry
The quintessential dish of Sri Lanka is a nutritious plate of rice and curry. Curries are everywhere, from roadside cafes to hotel buffets and everywhere in between. They can be as cheap as 250 LKR ($1.50 USD) for a whole plate (with refills). Our favourite place to eat a good Sri Lankan meal was during our time in the homestays. There’s nothing better than a home-cooked meal, especially in Sri Lanka!
Sri Lankans love their spices and a lot of preparation goes into making a good curry. The most commonly used spices are cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, chilli, mustard seeds, coriander, cumin, peppercorn, saffron (to get the colour) and curry leaves which are very good for lowering cholesterol. A fact of the day.
4. Sri Lankan Dhal Curry
Dhal curry is one of the most commonly consumed staple dishes in Sri Lankan cuisine.
The dhal, usually masoor dhal which are red lentils, are often cooked in a beautiful blend of spices, and then a few spoons of coconut milk are added to create a rich stew.
Dhal curry is omnipresent in Sri Lanka, and it’s consumed with all forms of rice and bread.
Sri Lanka has been influenced by a diversity of cultures and one of the most evident is the Dutch Burgher community.
Lamprais, a word that combines the two Dutch words for “lump” and “rice,” is a combination of meat, rice and sambol chilli sauce, wrapped into a banana leaf packet and steamed. The rice is cooked with meat stock — usually a combination of different meats like beef, pork or lamb — that’s infused with cardamom, clove and cinnamon.
A scoop of rice is placed in the centre of a banana leaf, along with the mixed meat curry, two frikkadels (Dutch-style beef balls), blachan (a shrimp paste) and a starch or vegetable, usually either ash plantain or brinjals.
The package is folded into a parcel and steamed. Since lamprais is a Burgher contribution to Sri Lankan cuisine, the meat is usually prepared with sweet spices like clove and cinnamon, recreating the flavor favoured by the Dutch Burgher community.
Original recipes called for beef, pork and lamb, but chicken and eggs are often included in a modern lamprais packet.