I miss Sri Lanka a lot. So every chance I get to try some Sri Lankan food, it takes me back home. The taste, smell, texture is unforgettable.
Following is a list of my favourite Sri Lankan foods.
Lets dance and have Kottu
Kottu is short for ‘Kottu Roti’ and is absolutely my favourite thing to eat. Whether in Sri Lanka or Sydney, I always get a chance to have some Kottu whenever I want.
Kottu is made with chopped up parata or plain roti mixed with all sorts of vegetables, meat and curry sauce. There’s a huge variety of Kottu’s available, from vegetable kottu’s, cheese kottu, meat kottu and even seafood kottu’s! Essential ingredients remain the same and you add whatever you wish to have in it and personalise. Isn’t that a great idea?
Pleasure of eating a Kottu is one thing. You gotta listen to how its done to get the whole experience…
This makes me wanna dance. Don’t you?
I find the Kottu mix varies from chef to chef as they find their own way and to make it special. Some tend to be just the roti, veggies and meat without the curry sauce and other add a lot more curry sauce to it, even cashew nuts just like the one I found in Christchurch by Ceylon Kitchen.
A traditional Sri Lankan dish made from rice (white or red) where ‘Kiri’ means ‘Milk’ and ‘Bath’ (pronounced ‘Buth’) means ‘Rice’.
Kiri Bath has become the most common dish among Sri Lankan’s made for special occasions including weddings and on new years day. It is prepared by cooking rice with milk, typically coconut milk.
Once cooked and set, cut into diamond shaped pieces where you can serve it easily. See the photo.
Kiri Bath is typically served with a couple of curries including a meat or a fish curry (fish being the preferred curry for new years), pol sambal (sambol) or lunu miris (a spicier version and bit wetter version of pol sambal).
You can even have it with some sugar making it a sweeter version.
Here’s a what we did for Sinhalese new year celebrations at home. Isn’t this lovely?
Chinese? Well, this isn’t anything got to do with the origins but simply a means of what it is called. Sri Lankan style ‘rolls’ are completely different to what a traditional Chinese Roll in that the filling is covered in a pancake, coated with egg then breadcrumbs and deep fried. Sounds yum, yea?
Like Kottu, filling can be just a vegetarian mixture or with meat. Sri Lankans generally use canned salmon as the meat option, but you can have chicken, beef or pork. Seafood mixes are also possible, but I’ve never come across it or heard of it being made. Let me know if you’ve had something else in the fillings.
I remember when I was young, my grandmother taking me to a take-away restaurant in Colombo where we’d have rolls and an iced coffee.
Similar to a thick tortilla, it is made with freshly grated coconut, white flour and water (plus salt). It is available at most road side shops throughout the day but is mainly consumed for breakfast or dinner.
Best way to enjoy some pol roti is to have it with a curry and some lunu miris. My favourite!
I’ve made roti a couple of times and is quite an involved process. It is not easy to find fresh coconut in a big city so you can swap out it with desiccated coconut.
Tip: Add some hot water and milk to let the desiccated coconut re-hydrate before mixing.
I also remember having special pol roti with green chillies in it. That was the best I’ve had!
Here’s a quick video on how to make a few types of roti…
Rice and Curry
There’s nothing more common in Sri Lankathan a plate of rice and curry. It is available everywhere at any time of day and is the staple food preferred by young and old, rich and poor and is not to be missed if you are in Sri Lanka. During the week, packets of rice and curry (lunch packets) are sold for as little as Rs 100 and grabbed by hungry office workers. Past 1pm, you’d be lucky if there’s any left.
You normally get a plate of rice piled with a few vegetable curries and a choice of meat or fish curry including dhal curry. Some places also offer red rice which is a healthier version than the standard white rice option. I used to have fried rice as an option which also comes with chilly paste. Depending on where you get it, rice packets or plate will also come with papadam (or papadum), fried maldive (dried) fish and fried dry red chillies.
I can’t get enough of rice and curry. Have you tried any Sri Lankan curries?
Another favourite is the yellow rice where the rice is actually yellow. Turmeric powder added during the cooking process makes the rice yellow and typically uses the white rice type. Optionally there would also be raisins and cashew nuts making it extra special.
Not all curries go with the yellow rice. A typical set of curries done by my mother includes chicken curry, tempered potato curry with onions (dry curry), papadam and fried bitter gourd and onion salad. Yum!
Like Kiri Bath, this is also made on special occasions or days and we used to have on weekends as a family meal. You can also have fish curry but I think chicken or beef curry goes very well with yellow rice.
Not all Sri Lankan restaurants offer yellow rice as an option and requires pre-ordering. So if you plan on having some do check their menu online. Kammadhenu offers an Indian version of yellow rice.
A popular tea time (I’d have this anytime of day) savoury snack and is available at most mid to up-market take-away places in major cities. It is also a very popular party time snack.
Cutlets are very much like arancini balls without the rice in it and filled with a typical mixture of fish and potatoes. I hate making cutlets as it takes a lot of prep time but boy don’t I like the finished product. Its relative size makes it easier to eat in one mouth full so they disappear fast from the table.
Here’s what my brother-in-law prepared some time back.
Another popular and available anywhere-anytime short-eat is the mighty fish bun. Its a dough based triangle shaped bread with a yummy fish and potato mixture inside. Served hot, you could have this for breakfast or dinner or lunch!
I still remember having a couple of these after school on the way home. If not fish buns, it was vegetable roti 🙂
My brother-in-law is an expert fish bun maker! I’d employ him just to have some more made just like these…
Mostly available from the ubiquitous Sri Lankan street vendors, best way to enjoy it is over sunset with a cuppa.
Somewhat similar to a fish bun, vegetable roti is also in the shape of a triangle (or sometimes rectangular) but instead of being a dough based bun, the mostly vegetable mixture is wrapped in a thin roti similar to an Indian parata.
I can’t remember making these at home, but very clearly remember having them on the way from school. I can easily have about 3 in one go.
Want to make some and invite me?
String Hoppers (Indi-appa / Idiyappam)
What in the world is this? Another famous and versatile dishes, string hoppers are made from rice flour pressed into thin noodle form (strings) and later steamed which effectively becomes the edible form. Not sure where the word hoppers came to be as the traditional word doesn’t translate to either of these words.
It goes well with any curry, specially dhal and chicken or fish curry and is usually available for breakfast and dinner. There is nothing wrong with having this for lunch but it is unlikely you’d find anywhere offering string hoppers for lunch.
We used to make them every week at home for dinner.
Thanks to my adventurous brother-in-law, we get to try a lot of Sri Lankan dishes in Sydney. All I have to do is rock up. Thanks Dilshan!
One of the best memories I have with pittu is that when I was little, we had pittu for breakfast at my grandparents place. It was like a ritual that in the mornings, I would go to the next door small shop and buy them for all of us. Back home, we’d have and kiri hodi, which is coconut milk gravy lightly cooked with some spices. It was a basic curry, but yum.
Pittu also goes well with any meat curries and adding some lunu miris will make it even better!