Snack Time, Sri Lankan Style: 10 Bite-Sized Delights To Try
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When journeying through hot climates, it's evident that thirst often overtakes hunger. Nothing quite refreshes and satisfies like a drink of coconut water or a glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice. In Sri Lanka, an island nation near the equator where hydration is key, heavy meals can feel overwhelming in the sweltering weather. 

If you did indulge in a wholesome saappadu or a hearty buriyani, you might want to eat less or no food for the rest of your day. Instead, a few bottles of water, some white orange juice with basil seeds and light nibbles like chips, cocktail mixtures, king coconut water, some sweets like bhoondi, etc. can easily sustain you, whether you're exploring the picturesque beauty of the countryside or lounging by the sea. 

Oh, and if you have train rides scheduled, it is always wise to carry snacks  for your train rides, although they last not more than a few hours to get anywhere from Colombo. The trains do not have a railway pantry onboard if you get hungry nor will they stop anywhere midway for you to grab a bite. So, it is best to go prepared with some munchies in advance. Moreover, some of these train rides start at odd times, like 7:00 AM in the morning from Colombo Fort Station to Kandy or Ella, or 16:00 PM to Mirissa or Tanghalle. 

If you are an Indian travelling in Sri Lanka, you will see that most of their snacks are similar to Indian snacks, especially in the southern regions of the country, like the cheese nibble crackers, wade, mixture, murukku, bhoondi, etc. Here are some snack options that are interesting and that you might want to bring back from your travels. If you are not able to, you can surely learn how to make them with the Sri Lankan twist and try them when you get back. They are so tasty that you may end up nibbling all along the way and end up with a pack of tapioca chips at the most upon your return home if you are not keeping a count on the snack packs!

Isso Wade (Prawn Patties)

Isso Wade is a popular Sri Lankan street food delight that is enjoyed on the go, whether you are at a train station or Galle Face Green in Colombo. They are deep-fried lentil fritters encrusted with fresh prawns and accompanied by spicy sambol and a garnish of chopped onions. These lentil fritters, complemented by onions, curry leaves, and tangy lime juice, make them a must-try snack in Sri Lanka. It is similar to the vade or vadai made in South India, except it has prawns or shrimp that lend a rare taste of the sea, which makes this treat unique to Sri Lanka. 

Malu Paan

Just like the aloo bun or vegetable bun we get in Iyengar bakeries across South India, malu paan is a triangle-shaped stuffed bun that includes a curried mixture of potatoes and canned mackarel or tuna fish and is usually served as a short meal or for breakfast in the morning.

In Sri Lankan households, malu paan is usually purchased from local vendors or bakeries due to its availability. The rolled-out soft bread dough, made with or without eggs, is filled with the boiled potatoes and fish mix, seasoned with curry powder or masala powder, and folded into triangles before being baked and served with tomato ketchup or chilly sauce. It is a filling snack that can be enjoyed with a cup of the famous Ceylon tea.


Murukku is a crunchy and savoury fried snack made from rice flour and urad dal. Murukku in Tamil means 'twisted' and this is a deep-fried twisted brittle that is mostly enjoyed among the Tamil households during the New Year festival and other special occasions. It is similar to the murukku made in South India. They are mostly made at home or available at sweet shops. A sweet version of murukku is popularly made in the Jaffna region of Sri Lanka and follows a slightly different recipe than the usual murukku. The sweet version of the snack is called seeni murukku, has different ingredients from the regular murukku and is made from rice flour, coconut milk, eggs, oil, and sugar.

Dhal Wade

This is a split chickpea fritter that is similar to the Indian parippu vadai in Tamil, or masale vade in Kannada, or the Middle-Eastern falafel. In Sri Lanka, this dhal wade is also known as parippu wade. Soaked chickpeas are coarsely ground and mixed with rice flour to absorb excess moisture, spices like chilly powder, curry leaves, turmeric, etc., chopped onions, green chillies and coriander leaves before being shaped into flat discs and deep-fried in oil. This is a popular teatime snack enjoyed by Sri Lankans and is also made for festivals and served with sappadu.

Mutton Rolls

Sri Lankan mutton rolls originated as a popular snack or appetiser that feature a savoury filling enclosed in a crispy coating and are deep-fried in oil. The filling comprises a cooked mixture of mashed potatoes, seasoned mutton, onions, mint, and chillies. After shaping the filling into compact rolls, they are coated in flour, dipped in egg, and covered with breadcrumbs before being deep-fried to golden perfection. Served hot or cold, these mutton rolls are accompanied by a chilli-based dipping sauce.

Cassava Chips

In Sri Lanka, one might not find banana or potato chips as prominently as cassava chips, which also come in different flavours. While they are enjoyed with a simple seasoning of salt and red chilly powder, cassava chips in barbecue flavour are a popular hit among the locals and tourists travelling the country. They are thin wafers, deep-fried, seasoned and packed, which are surprisingly filling too. 

Elawalu Roti

The name "Elawalu" translates to "vegetables," reflecting the filling encased within the "Roti," or flatbread. This dish consists of stuffed flatbread filled with curried vegetables. They are sold in Sri Lanka's cafes, restaurants, and street food stalls. Elawalu Roti is a popular choice for those seeking a tasty and convenient snack or light meal on the go.   Whether enjoyed for breakfast, as a snack, or as part of a light meal, Elawalu Roti pairs perfectly with a cup of Sri Lankan hot, sweet plain tea or milk tea.

Ulundu Wade

This snack is the same as South Indian medu vada, which is made from Urad dal and is called uddin vada in Kannada, medu vadai or ulundu vadai in Tamil. Ulundu vadai, which translates to urad dal fritters in Tamil, is also referred to as savoury lentil doughnuts in Sri Lanka. These wade are eaten as is when they are still warm as a teatime snack, unlike the ulundu vadai that is accompanied by coconut chutney and sambar in India.

Sri Lankan Cocktail Mixture

Cocktail mixture, also known as murukku mixture, is a beloved Indian-origin snack widely enjoyed in Sri Lanka, especially when paired with alcoholic drinks. These savoury bites are akin to the concept of 'trail mix' and are often prepared at home and served as a popular snack with alcoholic drinks in Lanka, be it Lion Beer or arrack.

The snack is made by deep-frying thin strands of dough that are passed through the string hoppers and pressed into hot oil for frying. The dough is made with chickpea flour, seasoned with salt, garlic powder, and paprika or chilli powder, mixed with coconut milk. Fried nuts, curry leaves, dried fruits, cereals, and lentils are added to the mixture and seasoned to taste. 


Kokis, Sri Lanka's favourite fried delicacy, boasts a fascinating history with Dutch origins dating back to the Kandyan period. Its name likely derives from the Dutch word "koekjes," translating to cookies or biscuits. It is similar to rose cookies made in Kerala for Christmas and draws parallels with Swedish rosette and Persian Nan panjereh.

It is traditionally crafted by women in households with a special mould known as a kokis achchuwa, or rosette cookie mould, which commonly gives it the shape of a butterfly or 5-petal flower. The batter, a blend of rice flour, coconut milk, and beaten eggs, coats the mould before immersion in boiling coconut oil. As it fries, Kokis is released from the mould halfway through cooking, resulting in a wafer-thin crispy treat. During the Sinhala New Year festivities in mid-April, Kokis are prepared and served as a snack or even dessert.