For those attending the India vs. Pakistan match in Colombo, Sri Lanka, here's a handy list of everything you need to try before you leave the magic of the island.
One of the biggest cricket events of the season is set to unfold as India plays Pakistan in the Asia Cup match in Colombo, Sri Lanka. If you happen to be one of the lucky few attending the match in person, the current rains should not be a deterrent from enjoying the wealth that Sri Lanka has to offer. Because beyond the beautiful beaches and idyllic island living Sri Lanka has a gamut of cultural experiences and diverse cuisine to sample. Sri Lankan cuisine, while sharing some similarities with South Indian food, possesses a distinct and unforgettable flavour profile. This culinary diversity is a result of centuries of colonisation and the influence of the Dutch, Portuguese, British and beyond which is reflected in a wide range of dishes commonly served in Sri Lanka.
Though small, Sri Lanka boasts a wealth of culinary options and that diversity lies not only in its abundant natural resources but also in its ethnic diversity. Centuries ago, during the 15th and 16th centuries, traders hailing from India, Europe, Arabia, Africa, and the Malay World arrived in Sri Lanka, each bringing their native cuisines, cooking styles, and culinary techniques, contributing to the unique tapestry of Sri Lankan cuisine.
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Today, the food of Sri Lanka is a tapestry of all the past colonies and the local flavours. Here are 10 dishes you must try.
1. Egg Hoppers:
These savoury bowl-shaped pancakes, made from fermented rice flour, coconut milk, coconut water, and a dash of sugar, are a delicious anytime treat. Cooked with an egg in a high-sided pan, they are typically enjoyed with spicy sambol called lunu miris, which is made of onions, chillies, lemon juice and salt.
2. Gotu Kola Kanda:
A unique mix of soup and herbal porridge, this nutritious concoction features wild leafy greens like gotu kola and hathawariya, along with rice. It's believed to offer various health benefits, including aiding digestion and boosting the immune system.
3. Ambul Thiyal:
Fish Ambul Thiyal, or sour fish curry, stands out as a beloved classic. Typically, a hearty and firm fish like tuna is cut into cubes and then gently sautéed in a medley of spices, which includes black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, pandan leaves, and curry leaves. However, the key ingredient that imparts the distinctive sourness to this dish is dried goraka, a small fruit known as Kudampuli or Malabar Tamarind in India.
Jackfruit is an integral part of Sri Lankan fare and is consumed in multiple stages of ripeness and in many different ways. This dish involves dry-roasted spices, jackfruit pieces, mustard seed oil, garlic, onion, curry leaves, lemongrass, and cinnamon, all mixed together with coconut. It's slow-cooked for an hour, resulting in a rich and flavourful dish.
5. Kottu Roti:
Street food to home comfort, Kottu Roti is one of the island’s favourite meals.Made from godamba roti, chopped together wiith meat, veggies and curry dish of choice, plus an egg scrambled in for good measure with a dose of chillies. Special cleavers are used to bring all the ingredients together as they sautee on a hot griddle.
Introduced by the Dutch Burgher population, the name denotes a lump of rice along with various side dishes and wrapped together with the iconic sambal chilli sauce in a banana leaf packet and steamed. The banana leaf adds a unique taste to the dish, making it a must-try.
7. Kukul Maas:
Sometimes the best meals are those that aren’t overcomplicated, and that is definitely the case for this simple yet delightful chicken curry. Flavoured with spices like fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon sticks, as well as coconut milk, the chicken is simmered for over an hour until all the flavours are infused and the meat is tender.
8. Dhal (Parippu):
Dal is a must for most Indian meals, and the same goes in Sri Lanka. This lentil curry is made from masoor dhal, sautéed onions, tomatoes, green chillies, and tempered spices. Coconut milk adds richness and creaminess to the dish, making it a versatile accompaniment.
9. Wambatu Moju:
Similar to Indian cuisine, Sri Lanka loves its pickles. This pickled eggplant dish features crispy fried eggplant wedges caramelised with sugar, vinegar, red onions, green chillies, and spices. The sweet, sour, and salty contrast is truly sensational.
Rice is must for most Sri Lankan meals and this dish makes it an extra special affair. A special rice dish cooked with thick coconut milk often served during auspicious occasions. It can be enjoyed sweet with jaggery or savoury with chilli sauce or curry. Don't forget the lunu miris garnish, a spicy sambol chilli sauce.