Top 10 Best Most Popular Sri Lankan Food Dishes

By on October 29, 2012

Sri Lanka has lavishly aromatic and spicy cuisine. If you are visiting Sri Lanka you should try these popular Sri Lankan dishes.

This list includes following types of food:

Main meals such as Rice and Curry, Those, Pol Sambol (coconut sambol), Mallum – Gotukola sambal, Dhal or Lentil currry (Parippu Hodi), and Fish Ambul Thiyal (Sour fish curry).
Breakfast dishes such as Hoppers (Appa) and String Hoppers (Indi Appa).
Special Occasion and Festive dishes such as Milk Rice (Kiribath) and Sweetmeats (Kavum, Kokis, Asmi etc.)
Fast food– Kottu

CULINARY TRADITION – The rice is always put on to the plate first and then the curries are selected from the other dishes to mix with it so you have a collection of minor meals around the plate. You eat by mixing the rice with something forming it in to bite sized ball and consuming by hand. Is generally consumed with a range of vegetables or meat, parripu , dhal and Mullung.

1 – Rice and Curry
Rice and Curry Sri Lanka
It is the main meal in almost every household. A typical Sri Lankan meal consists of rice served with curry of fish, meat or poultry, several other curries made with vegetables and pulses such as lentils (Dhal). Condiments such as chutneys and sambols are included. These are generally spicy and are made from various ingredients such as coconut, onions, lime juice and chillies. All the dishes are placed on the table at the same time for consumption.

2 – Milk Rice (Kiribath) with Onion Sambola
Milk Rice Kiribath Sri Lanka

[sws_pullquote_right]Best Sri Lankan foods – Rice and Curry, Those, Pol Sambol, Dhal Lentil curry Fish Ambul Thiyal fish curry.breakfast dishes Hoppers Kiribath and Sweetmeats Kavum, Kokis, kottu [/sws_pullquote_right] Milk rice is a traditional Sri Lankan dish made with rice. It is a popular food served in auspicious and festive occasions (eg. Sinhala New Year, first day of each month). The dish is prepared by cooking rice with coconut milk. This is normally served with Onion Sambola (lunu miris), a fiery hot mix of red onions and spices, or bananas. This is also a traditional breakfast in Sri Lanka.

There are varieties of kiribath especially Mun kiribath, where green gram is added and the delicious Imbul Kiribath with its center filled with coconut and jaggery (Honey).

3- Sweetmeats – Kavum, Kokis, Asmi etc.
Sweetmeats - Kavum, Kokis, Asmi etc

Traditional juicy sweetmeats are commonly prepared during Sinhala and Tamil New Year celebrating times and other special occasions. These include Kavum, Kokis, Asmi, Halape and Thalaguli.

Kavum is a mushroom-shaped battercake of ground rice and treacle, fried in oil. There are several varieties of kavum. Among them the konda kavum is very popular.
Kokis is a dish made from rice flour and coconut milk.
Asmi is also a traditional sweetmeat in the shape of’string hoppers dipped in treacle.
Halape is a mixture of jaggery and flour, wrapped in a leaf.
Thalaguli is a ball of confectionary liberally peppered with sesame.

Other Sri Lanka sweetmeats include Kaludodol (a rich, dark, confection made from coconut milk, jaggery and cashew nuts), aluva, pumpkin preserve (puhul dosi) and Panivalalu (honey bangles).

4- Kottu

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Kottu is very popular street fast food in Sri Lanka. It is made of shredded pieces of Sri Lankan paratha bread that are stir fried with an assortment of spices and a choice of other meaty (or vegetarian) ingredients.

5- Pol Sambol (coconut sambol)

[sws_picture_frame1 src=”” title=”Pol Sambol” alt=”Pol Sambol” align=”sws_frame_center” lightbox=”1″ album=”album” video=””] [/sws_picture_frame1]

Pol Sambola is prepared with grated coconut, onions, red chilli powder, lemon, salt and Maldive fish (cured tuna). It is usually eaten with rice. There is also Seeni Sambol: a very dark, rich, spicy-sweet onion relish.

6- Mallum – Gotukola sambal

[sws_picture_frame1 src=”” title=”Gokukola Sambol” alt=”Gotukola Sambol” align=”sws_frame_center” lightbox=”1″ album=”album” video=””] [/sws_picture_frame1]


Mallum is more like a green salad and prepared by mixing shredded green vegetables, onions, coconut and some basic spices for garnishing. The name Mallum literally means “mix up” and is usually a combination of shredded greens, onion, chilli, Maldive fish (Umbalakada) and coconut. Gotukola (Centella asiatica), Mukunuwenna (Alternanthera sessilis) and Kankung (Ipomea aquatica) Leaves are the local green leaves commonly used in Mallum. The most famous Green sambol (mallum) is made from fresh.

7- Thosai (Those)

[sws_picture_frame1 src=”” title=”Thosai and Vadai” alt=”Thosai and Vadai” align=”sws_frame_center” lightbox=”1″ album=”album” video=””] [/sws_picture_frame1]

Is basically a lentil pancake soaked and ground to form a smooth batter, flavoured with fried shallots, curry leaves, fenugreek and cumin cooked in a hot griddle with sesame oil. Eaten with ground coconut and chilly sambol. VADAI: Classical accompaniment to dosai- a triumph of tamil cuisine, they are small savoury rissoles fashioned into cakes and deep fried in coconut oil.

It is prepared with Ulundu flour, Rice flour, wheat flour, Sugar, Salt, and yeast.

8- Dhal or Lentil currry (Parippu Hodi)

[sws_picture_frame1 src=”” title=”Dhal Curry” alt=”Dhal Curry” align=”sws_frame_center” lightbox=”1″ album=”album” video=””] [/sws_picture_frame1]

Dhal (Daal) curry is one of the main curries Sri Lankans eat day to day with rice, bread, roti or parata. The dhal lentils are often cooked with coconut milk and made into a rich stew that acts as a gravy for rice.

9- Hoppers (Appa) and String Hoppers (Indi Appa)

Hoppers and Egg Hoppers served with Sabmol and Banana

Hoppers and string hoppers are popular breakfast or dinner dishes in Sri Lanka.

Hoppers are much like sour-dough pancakes. The batter is fermented in the traditional way with a light palm toddy, which gives the hoppers a delicious liquor tang. Usually served with sambol. There are several types of hoppers – egg hoppers and a couple of sweeter varieties.

String hoppers are made from rice noodles curled into flat spirals. It is served for breakfast and dinner with a thin fish or chicken curry, containing only one or two pieces of meat, a dhal dish, and a spicy sambol or fresh chutney.

10- Fish Ambul Thiyal (Sour fish curry)

Fish Ambul Thiyal

Ambul Thiyal is a popular dried fish curry with a sour taste made in many homes in Sri Lanka. The dish can be stored for days at room temperature without getting spoilt. Goraka (Garcinia gummi-gutta) is the ingredient which helps to preserve the fish. It’s also responsible for the sour flavor in the dish.

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  1. Wendy Kelly

    January 25, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Have yummy string hoppers for breakfast.

  2. Suresh de silva

    November 7, 2013 at 2:32 am

    I just wanna know How to cook babys food Rcepies Fruits and Stuff
    Cos My Baby is now 5 months old doctor said to start food now
    1 bath kada like many thanks

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  5. admin

    April 2, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Travel to Sri Lanka – How Sri Lanka is different to India

  6. admin

    April 12, 2014 at 5:31 am

  7. Janyanthi

    April 17, 2014 at 8:47 am

    What is the recipe of Sri Lankan Aluwa.

  8. rita albaneze

    April 20, 2014 at 3:52 am

    Please e-mail me a menu as I wish to place an order for delivery (on the 1st of each month).(stringhoppers, gottukola sambol etc for sure) The address inSL will be Kalubowila, Dehiwela. Will give full details once I hear from you. Will pay from the US. Please advise the method of payment you prefer. Thanks – Rita

    • admin

      April 20, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      Sorry Rita. This website will not take any food orders.

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