Planning a driving holiday through Sir Lanka? You are in for a treat, as it really is a fantastic foodie destination. Although Sir Lanka is often nicknamed the ‘land of rice and curry’, its cuisine is much more rich and complex than that. From fresh seafood to spicy vegetarian street food, and from simple pancakes to complex and aromatic curries, you will be spoilt for choice.
If you are veggie then you won’t go hungry either. That’s because many speciality dishes are vegetarian, such as the classic pumpkin curry. A typical Sri Lankan meal is quite a spread in general, as it will tend to include a salad of leafy greens, daal lentil stew, a condiment of coconut sambal, chutney, crispy poppadoms and fragrant steamed rice. In other words, an absolute feast.
So if you want to experience the best cuisine that this incredible country has to offer, then make sure that you stop at these three destinations:
Based in the north of the country, Jaffna is the capital city of that province. An unmissable dish from this area is the slow-cooked goat curry, which includes the dark curry powder that Jaffnan is known for. The powder is freshly roasted and ground, with the result being gorgeous aromas and a real flavour punch. The goat is cooked low and slow until it is gorgeously tender, making it a real indulgence. Another classic Jaffnan dish is the city’s tasty take on the pancake, the hoffer (or aapam), which is made with rice flour and coconut milk with spices.
Colombo, West Coast
The capital city of Sri Lanka, Colombo is known for its rich street food culture. Plus as it’s perched on the Indian ocean on the West Coast of the county, it is a seafood paradise as well. Many seaside restaurants will offer a delicious fresh catch of the day, which can include crabs, lobster, king prawns, snapper and squid. You can usually have your choice of catch cooked exactly how you like in a range of tasty sauces, all while watching the waves lap against the sand. Bliss.
Ella Village, Southern hill country
Surrounded by Sri Lanka’s tea plantations in the Southern Hill Country, the village of Ella offers some fantastic local cuisine. Spices are grown locally and dishes from this area are known for their delicate flavours, with the emphasis being on gentle coconut milk, rather than the super-hot impact of chillis. As highlights include cinnamon-spiced potato curry and jackfruit curry, vegetarians will enjoy a visit to Ella too. Not far from the village is the Uva Halpewaththa Tea Factory, which is also well worth stopping off at for a tour.
Another hill country classic is pork curry, which includes cinnamon, goraka, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chilli powder and fragrant curry leaves. The result is a depth of flavour that will definitely leave you wanting more. And more…
Hopefully, these three suggested food tour stops will have got your mouth watering. Remember that if you are travelling in the car with little ones, take plenty of snacks and games to keep them occupied. And if your kids aren’t used to chillis, always check the ingredients of dishes before they try them. Finally, make sure to let them try some deliciously sweet jaggery as a treat.
Enjoy your foodie explorations of Sri Lanka – happy dining!