When I was been confirmed that I had to visit Sri Lanka instead of Myanmar, my first thought was "Oh, wow!" and my second thought was "Darn, I researched so hard on Myanmar, now I have to do it again on Sri Lanka!" And why not? I am sure most of the people do a bit study before visiting another country in order to get a better idea about everything. And surely checking out the diet of native people is a part of it because you have to have a clear conception about what you are precisely going to eat and what not.
I was panicked, because one of my uncles warned me that Sri Lankan people use "coconut oil" for cooking whereas we Bangladeshi people are usually used to with soybean oil and consuming every dish cooked with coconut oil would surely upset my stomach. He added to make it worst that it might not taste good to me at all!
So you can understand how much worried I was imagining my diet in Sri Lanka for 10 long days. But, I was indeed very surprised to find out how amazing Sri Lankan Cuisine could be! It was rather a very good experience to taste some unique traditional dishes of Sri Lanka. Here, I would share some of the items I tasted and my overall review about Sri Lankan Cuisine!
In General: Spices & Taste
Some definite points can be noted down instantly about Sri Lankan Cuisine:
• Sri Lankans are totally in love with spicy foods. They prefer foods that are bursting with flavor and spices. That is why you would find many street food shop selling deep fried, and very tasty snacks.
• Though sometimes you must keep in mind that some spices might not go with your appetite or the diet you are used to with. Like, the taste of "curry leaf" in Fried Rice was very tangy for me. It gave me a sharp tingling taste in my mouth every time I tried to chew it or swallow it.
• Besides, Sri Lanka is an island with a tropical climate. So coconuts and fish are two of the most influential components of Sri Lankan cuisine. Fish is made into curries, and coconut in some form or another, is a dominant ingredient in cooking.
• As the staple food, Sri Lankans prefer Rice and curry in general, but Roti (breads), Paratha (flat breads) these are common with different kinds of curry and chutney (dipping sauce) with it.
My Experiences with Sri Lankan Cuisine
Coconut Pol Roti (bread) with Chili Chutney (dipping sauce):
• Flat solid bread infused with little pieces of coconut.
• Served with a very spicy dipping sauce made by chili, onion, salt and finely blended other spices.
• You can eat for breakfast, or as a snacks.
• During my workshops in Thulhiriya, at MIMT, I had plenty of chances to enjoy my breakfast with this unique Pol Roti and spicy Chili Chutney!
Coconut Roti with Chili Salt:
• Solid and small breads infused with a piece of coconut.
• Topped with flaky, salty, chili spice.
• It's crunchy and known as street food.
• It might seem a bit hard to chew, but it tastes fine!
• Spicy and salty Cassava chips, street junk food!, was one of my favorite during my travel to Sri Lanka.
• My trip to Colombo was blessed by this extremely tasty snacks.
• You can buy it from street cart in small paper bag, or they sell it on any food-shop beside roads. It would cost you 50LKR ($0.45) for small pack, and 100LKR ($0.90) for the large pack.
• Crispy and fresh, a slight cheesy flavor can be found.
• Ulundhu Vadai is another popular snacks of Sri Lanka.
• Flower, red lentils and curry leaf are used as main ingredients.
• It is deep fried to crisp, yet the texture remains soft.
• I had the chance to taste this snack when I was on the way to Kandy for my community visit, in Sri Lanka.
Pol Sambola (Spicy coconut relish):
• A very simple dish with awesome taste.
• Pol Salmbol is basically a mixture of shredded coconut, chili powder or dried chilies, lime juice, red onions.
• You take a spoon full of Pol-Sambol, chew it slowly, and your mouth will rejoice with happiness!
• I had Pol Sambol in both Thulhiriya, and Kandy.
Appa (Egg Hoppers):
• Appa (Egg Hoppers) is a very famous and Iconic food/snacks of Sri Lanka.
• It is made with simple pancake batter that’s spruced up with coconut milk and a splash of toddy (Sri Lankan palm wine).
• The unique part is that hoppers are cooked in small “wok” like rounded pans so the dough cooks thick and soft on the bottom, and thin and crunchy around the edges.
• Hoppers can be ordered plain, or even better with a fried egg in the middle.
• You have missed half of the Sri Lanka if you have not tasted it!
• I tasted Appa on the last day of my stay in Colombo, while attending the Grand dinner in Hotel Mount Lavinia. It was awesome!
Kukul Mas Curry (Chicken Curry):
• Special Chicken Curry of Sri Lanka.
• Finely blended mixture of spices and additionally used a little amount of coconut milk to make the curry more yummy and delicious.
• Superb texture and color; delicious smell and wonderful in taste.
• Chicken curry was available in everywhere I visited in Sri Lanka.
Deep Fried Chicken Fried Rice:
• Fried Rice with deep fried chicken was a good dish though the acute taste of curry leaf left me no choice but to avoid it in whole. :(
• Nicely cooked, and the smell is also good.
Parippu (Daal curry):
• Daal Curry (Lentil Curry) is one of the most consumed staple dishes for Sri Lankans.
• Though it's different in taste from our usual Bangladeshi Daal Curry.
• For Sri Lankan Daal curry, they usually cook red lentils blended with fine spices, and then a few spoons of coconut milk are added to create a rich stew.
• Asmi is one of the most popular sweet snacks found in Sri Lanka. This was the best food we enjoyed during our Market Place Country Presentation in Thulhiriya.
• It is made of flower, coconut milk and the special ingredient used in making Asmi is leafs of "Dawulu Kurundu". It is tree in the Lauraceae family. It is endemic to the Sri Lanka. The juice of Dawulu Kurundu leafs is used to make the sauce for Asmi.
• It is sweet but not acute, rather it has mild sweetness and crispness.
• All of us enjoyed Asmi so much that we did not have any left over by the end of the session!
• Papad/Papadam is one of the most common dishes in South Asian Region but its appetizing quality never gets faded.
• Crispy, tasty and lentil-ed flavored Papad is usually served with main meals, or as snacks. Though Papad has another flavor which is made of flower but I liked the lentil-ed flavored most.
• We never passed a meal without having Papad and I really enjoyed it!
Suduhal Idiyappa (String Hoppers):
• Suduhal Idiyappa (string hoppers) is made from a thicker rice flour based batter, squeezed into thin noodles, and then steamed.
• These are normally eaten for breakfast or dinner, along with a variety of different curry.
• I had it in Thulhiriya, during my dinners.
Sri Lankan Chicken Patties:
• This was an awesome snack I had during our last session in Colombo.
• The bun of the chicken patties is called the "Fish Bun", and the filling inside this patties was amazingly tasty.
• Moist, spicy, perfectly cooked!
• Kokis is another sweet snack of Sri Lanka, served as dessert or appetizer.
• Kokis is a deep-fried, crispy dish made from rice flour and coconut milk.
• I came to know that although Sri Lankans considered it as their traditional dish, but it is believed to have come from the Dutch.
• Kokis were also there in the Market Place Country Presentation session and it was truly very crispy and fun to eat!
The King Coconut:
• You go on a trip to Sri Lanka, and you come back WITHOUT having the King coconut, then technically you did not get the true taste of Sri Lanka at all!
• Sri Lankan considers the holy King Coconut as one of the most vital component. Coconut water, coconut milk, chunks and core of coconut are the daily ingredient of common Sri Lankan Cuisine.
• These coconuts line the streets around the country and are sold just for their sweet water. Each coconut costs from 30 – 40 LKR ($0.27 – $0.36).
• The sweet water of King Coconut is a very effective tonic for refreshment, energy and hydration.
In short, Sri Lankan cuisine will never make you disappointed. Like the people, their food also comes with different flavors and different tastes! :)