Vegetarian food in Sri Lanka

Tea, Tasty food and Thrill.. do we need to say more?

One of the many reactions from our family and friends was “What will you eat there?”.

The Tea country is also celebrated for its spices. Even today, the aroma of cardamom and cinnamon leaves a special note on travelers’ senses, just the way it did hundreds of years ago for the traders around the world.

Sri Lankan food draws the flavors inspired from the Portuguese, Indian and English and often Arabic (more of Moors) cuisine. Today, the Sri Lankan cuisine has made it its distinctive mark on the world’s gastronomical map.

Being an island nation, its obvious the local food will primarily revolve around sea food but the local vegetarian dishes are up to the bar to excite your taste buds too. It is a carnival of fresh produce off the farms like coconuts, potato, bananas, papayas etc. For most of the Indians out there, they will find the dishes similar to the South Indian cuisine. Here are some of the dishes that we tried and/or wished our stomach allowed us to have a bite of:

Hoppers – Sri Lankan classic, more of up side down of the south Indian ‘Dosa’ or ‘Appam’, Hoppers are made with rice flour and served along with other toppings like honey, curd, chillis etc.

String hoppers – Another variation of the dish mentioned above, and is also known as ‘Idiyappam’. They are steamed rice string noodles.

Coconut Sambol – One of our favorites, it is served as an accompaniment made with freshly grated coconut, balanced with the spiciness from chopped chilies and onions. Its combination of contrasting textures and flavor on the tongue definitely made it a dish to be carried in our lifetime memories. We plan to try our hands on this recipe soon.

Puttu – It is steamed rice and coconut served in log shape generally served with curry.

Pol Roti – A Sri Lankan flatbread made of flour, grated coconut, green chilies and onions.

Curry – Made with coconut milk as base, the variations available are numerous and generally served in all meals of the day.

Dahl – This is our another favorite because it was so flavorful. Dahl in Sri Lanka is more on a thicker side of the consistency and the spice level just set right.

Dahl Vada – A famous street food in the country, Dahl Vada is made from split pigeon lentils. It’s spicy, crispy and savory in taste. A perfect bite with a tea or coffee.

Ulundu Vadai – This spicy donut shaped fried fritters is another favorite snack of locals. Have it with curry or dahl for more flavours.

Kottu Roti – If you hear a loud sound and unmistakable beat coming from any kitchen in the country, it is safe to assume Kottu Roti is being prepared. It is basically cut up roti stir fried with spices and vegetables.

Imbul Kiribath – A restaurant manager from one of our stays enlightened us about this dish – in a typical Sinhalese home, special occasions are marked with kiribath. It is prepared with rice cooked in milk and rolled with coconut, cloves and palm treacle (palm syrup) or brown sugar.

Pol Pani – Another dessert and another favorite. These irresistible coconut pancakes are made from flour and coconut milk, then stuffed with palm treacle (palm syrup). Binge on it either as a breakfast or a dessert. They’re apparently a favorite of Sri Lankan children — and us too!

Curd – Made from buffalo milk minus the bacteria culture (gives its sour taste), Curd in Sri Lanka had a distinctively smooth and silky texture. The taste has sweet hints from the milk and the aroma of earthen pots in which the curd is generally kept to set.

Special mentions

King Coconut Water – Visiting an island country and not drinking up that power water should be a sin :P. Well, we didn’t leave any chance of gulping down the fresh coconut water wherever possible (read: everyday). Available throughout the length and breadth of the country; the yellow variation called as King coconut is native to Sri Lanka and its water tastes sweeter than the regular green coconuts.

Fresh Fruits – Fresh fruits like guava, mango, papaya, watermelon etc. are easily available. Make sure you get them cut in front you to get the freshness.

It was fairly easy to find delicious vegetarian food in Sri Lanka. We generally had our meals at our place of accommodation. When on the road, we either dined in fast food chain or we used to take suggestions from our Captain for the best local places.

Visit @wandernationals_food to have a look at our delicious vegetarian food experience in Sri Lanka.