Flavours of Sri Lanka
Flavours of Sri Lanka
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A Culinary Journey through the Land of the Lion

Rice and curry - boiled rice with curried vegetables - is the typical Sri Lankan food for lunch and dinner, and sometimes breakfast as well.

As a meal, vegetable curry must have an accompaniment such as parripu (red lentil dhal), sweet potatoes, mullung (torn green leaves with spices, lightly stir-fried), fish, mutton or chicken, and sambol (a mixture of grated coconut, chili, and spices).

We mustn't forget "hoppers," a breakfast specialty consisting of a flat pancake, soft in the center and crispy at the edges, on which a fried egg or some grated sweetened coconut is served. There are also "string hoppers," which look more like grated potato pancakes sprinkled with powdered sugar or a chili sauce.

Coconut milk or grated coconut flavor most Sri Lankan dishes, both sweet and savory.

Sri Lankans use spices in all their cooking. They are generally the same ones used in southern India (cumin, chili, cardamom, coriander), but the dishes are generally spicier. Be careful of any dishes with the word "devilled" in their name - they're usually very hot.

In a sub-tropical country such as this, meals generally end with fruit: mango, papaya, banana, durian, rambutan or mangosteen. When it comes to pastries, there is Kevum, an oil cake made with spiced rice flour and honey and covered with cashew fudge. Kiaribath is a rice cake cooked in coconut milk and served with sambal, a traditional cake for weddings and other celebrations. You'll also find Wattalappam, an egg pudding of Malay origin, and delicious buffalo-milk yogurt.

Tea is the national drink of Sri Lanka, which the locals prefer very strong and sweet with a splash of milk.

Typical Dishes

A mixture of chili, grated coconut and other spices, generally served with curry and rice or with bread for breakfast.

Cooked vegetables and rice served in a banana leaf. 

Table Manners

In a restaurant, you'll always find cutlery near your plate and no one will be offended if you use it, but traditionally Sri Lankans eat with the fingers. Since the left hand is considered impure, it's the right hand that is used to convey food to your mouth. Start by forming a ball of rice and meat between your fingers, then dipping it into the various sauces.

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