Sri Lanka, the pearl of the Indian Ocean, is not just renowned for its scenic beaches, lush rainforests, and rich history, but also for its vibrant culinary heritage. Influenced by its indigenous communities, neighboring India, and colonial powers, Sri Lankan cuisine is a tantalizing blend of flavors and spices. In this article, we’ll explore the top 5 main dishes that define the island’s gastronomic allure.
1. Rice and Curry
Central to any Sri Lankan meal, rice and curry is a staple that varies from region to region. A plate of rice is accompanied by an array of curries – from meat and fish to vegetables and lentils. Infused with spices like turmeric, fenugreek, and curry leaves, each curry offers a unique flavor profile, making the meal both diverse and satisfying.
2. Hoppers (Appa)
Hoppers, locally known as “Appa”, are bowl-shaped pancakes made from fermented rice flour and coconut milk. The crispy edges and soft center make them a favorite for breakfast or dinner. They can be enjoyed plain, with an egg in the middle (Egg Hopper), or even as sweet variants with jaggery and coconut.
3. Kottu Roti
A dish that’s as much a treat for the ears as for the palate, Kottu Roti is made by chopping and mixing flatbread (roti) with vegetables, meat, and spices on a flat grill. The rhythmic sound of the metal blades chopping the mixture is iconic. This street food delicacy is both flavorful and filling.
Influenced by the Dutch Burgher community in Sri Lanka, Lamprais (derived from the Dutch word ‘lomprijst’, meaning a packet of food) is a fragrant rice dish. The rice is cooked in meat stock and accompanied by a mix of meat curry, two types of sambol, and frikkadels (meatballs). All ingredients are wrapped in a banana leaf and baked, infusing the parcel with a unique aroma and flavor.
5. String Hoppers (Idiyappam)
Made from rice flour dough that’s pressed to form thin noodles, string hoppers or Idiyappam are steamed to perfection. These delicate nests are often paired with dhal (lentil curry) or coconut sambol, making them a popular choice for breakfast or a light dinner.
Sri Lanka’s culinary offerings are a testament to its rich cultural tapestry and abundant natural resources. From the hearty Rice and Curry to the delicate String Hoppers, these top 5 main dishes offer a glimpse into the island’s soulful culinary traditions. Whether you’re an avid traveler or a curious foodie, indulging in these dishes will transport you to the heart of Sri Lanka, with its warm hospitality and aromatic spices.