September 14, 2018
Just Rice and Curry may sound really plain and mundane but when it means the Sri Lankan version, it is sublime. It’s a medley of amazing flavors and dishes that offers a constantly changing array of tastes that reflects the skills of the cook and the bounty of the markets.
Although Sri Lankan recipes may look very similar to South Indian cuisine, it is uniquely different in taste, texture as well as preparation, echoing the indelible cultures left by the tiny island’s traders, immigrants, neighbors, and colonizers. Home to some of the most exotic fruits and vegetables as well as amazing spices and seafood, it’s no wonder that Sri Lankan recipes have garnered so much attention from food lovers.
Though Sri Lanka may be a pint-sized island, each region of the country has its own signature dishes which have become part of the staple diet and some recipes in Sri Lanka have even gone on to reach global recognition as comfort food and island delicacy.
When it comes to the most popular comfort food, there’s nothing quite like the Sri Lankan dhal curry. It’s a permanent fixture of the local staple and a tempered dhal or Red Lentil curry makes a satisfying accompaniment to any carb dish, be it rice, string hoppers, bread, or roti; Sri Lankans cannot do without dhal in their food in the food.
When talking about comfort food, we cannot ignore street food and as far as street food in Sri Lanka goes, the undisputed leader in the hugely popular Kottu. Found nowhere else in the world, kottu is prepared with much ado and noise with shredded roti tossed with a colorful assortment of tempered vegetables, spices, meat, and eggs. Sri Lankan recipes for kottu come in numerous variations including just plain eggs, fish, chicken, or all of these together with a healthy helping of cheese. Kottu is typically served with a side dish of hot, spicy gravy to add extra flavor to the dish.
Then there is the seafood and as islanders, Sri Lankans have a great love for their seafood dishes. Using a variety of cooking techniques – from tempering and frying to baking and steaming, seafood in Sri Lanka is enjoyed in numerous ways. This is evident in the way seafood is prepared in different parts of the island. The northern region likes to incorporate seafood as an all-rounder with leafy greens, jackfruit seeds, and a melange of seafood in their seafood curry. The western region likes to have their seafood dishes slow-cooked to perfection and smothered in a spicy gravy. This variety of seafood dishes stands as a testimony to how much Sri Lankans cherish the bounties of the ocean.
Chicken dishes feature prominently in Sri Lankan recipes in an assortment of delightful curries and are a firm dinner favorite with many Lankans. Owing to its ease of cooking and delectable taste, chicken recipes are seeing a new high in Sri Lanka, thanks to the variety of exciting chicken products in the market today.
And finally, as far as desserts and sweets are concerned, Sri Lanka has a fantastic selection that can permanently cure anyone’s sweet addiction. Form tangy curd and treacle and creamy wattalapam to traditional sweetmeats like Kavvum or sweet oil cakes and deep-fried, crispy sweets called Kokis, sweets, and desserts in Sri Lanka are by no means lacking, making Sri Lankan well rounded in the culinary department.