What to eat in Sri Lanka

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This must have list to try was recommended by my friend Sashi Perera. She told us more or less what to expect and where we could find them but honestly, most of them were hard to find. In fact, I gave Priamjaya, our driver the list of food items I wanted to try and bugged him every day ’til we tried something new.


sri lanka curry


Well there is curry everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE. And even though they differ in taste and ingredients, they’re all still called curry. Here in the Philippines, I have only been exposed to Indian curry and Thai curry mostly, where different kinds of curries have different names. So every time I would ask the server what kind of curry this is, they would just say, “Curry. All curry.” Haha! So yes, EVERYTHING is curry. What I enjoyed the most is the papadum which I dip in dal. Sooooo good. I seriously could munch on that all day. Okay I’m salivating right now just thinking about papadum. In hotel buffets, I always stop by the Indian section if they have one and grab some papadum if they have some. I know Spirals at Sofitel and Cafe Ilang-Ilang at the Manila Hotel has it.



It is served with rice. Prior to this trip, I survived a month without rice so having it every day again was a bit overwhelming. I would end up being so full after meals and would get so sluggish. Good thing we hired a car and a driver to take us around. I have the whole back seat to myself.


polrotiPol roti is basically coconut roti or coconut flat bread, handmade upon order. Perhaps because this is commonly eaten for breakfast. They gave us curry to eat with it but I ate it with dal. Haha!

We found this at a restaurant in Polonnaruwa called Jaga Restaurant. This was our special request. Our driver Priamjaya happened to be from Polonnaruwa and knew where to take us when I asked where we could find pol roti. At Jaga Restaurant, they also prepared a buffet of 12 kinds of curry: mango curry, dal, beancurd, jackfruit, aubergine, pumpkin, papaya, cabbage, lingered bean, manyok, (we call it cassava in the Philippines), chicken and tilapia. For dessert, they served the Jaga Special, which is rice flour dumpings cooked in a sweet brown sauce, I’m guessing brown sugar and water. They also served yogurt with syrup and pan cake with sweetened desiccated coconut.


22 Junction, Jayanthipura, Polonnaruwa 51024, Sri Lanka


While we were in Kandy and could not enter the Temple of the Tooth, we decided to stroll around the city instead. Naturally, I asked around where to find the other food items on my list.

kandy bakery


I was directed to  this bakery called Ratnayake Bakers. Without knowing what it was, I ordered it. I saw the guy behind the counter, flattening out dough and cooking it on a griddle. He was making roti. Once the roti was cooked, he cut them up into thin strips. On the griddle, he sauteed garlic and onion leeks then added an egg, cooked it for a while and mixed it up. He added chili sauce, catsup and a dark colored liquid. I’m not sure if it was soy sauce or fish sauce, I was too embarrassed to ask at that moment since I looked like I was drooling. Then they added in chicken curry and the strips of roti and mixed them all up and cut them up the way they do for Japanese teppanyaki but noisier than Benihana.


The result? OMG. Sooooooo good! Definitely my favorite thing on this this! I enjoyed it so much I wanted to finish it but was just too full from all the other snacks we had along the way. Definitely recreating this some time and will surely post a recipe.





Hoppers are pretty much like Sri Lankan crispy crepes. You can have it plain or with egg. I ordered the one with egg cause it seemed much cooler. But wait, what makes this dish is actually the chili sauce that they serve you with it.

egg hoppers

Being nosy, I asked the owner how the chili sauce was made. He said, chili, paprika, and not the ground paprika powder we find on the grocery rack, paprika, onions, garlic and lime juice. Sounds simple right? I’ll try it out some time and let’s see. I bet it would be good with the kotthu.



So we found the hoppers below this sign. I think it’s right below or beside if not I wouldn’t have taken this photo. Haha! But you’ll see a small eatery and a man making hoppers from the street side view.


string hoppers

String hoppers are rice noodles eaten with different kinds of curry for breakfast. Yes, it is only available during breakfast. No wonder every time I ask for it in a restaurant they always say that it’s not available. Haha!


malupanMalu pan, which literally means “fish bread” is exactly what it is. It’s fish curry stuffed in a roll. We found this at a local bakery called New Monis Bakery and Restaurant. It was somewhere along Galle Road. We stopped by for lunch. Jharvis and I had the malu pan and the deep friend egg roll stuffed with fish as well. We treated our driver Priamjaya to for lunch, he ordered curry, which is actually the first photo in this blog post. The restaurant also has a dessert section. I was recommended to try wattalapan, a sweet brown dessert but they didn’t have it.

sri lanka bakeryAt the bakery, they bring over a tray of rolls for you to choose from. As we were leaving the restaurant, we met this cheerful fellow.

Sugathapala happiest man


W.V Sugathapala is known as the happiest man in Sri Lanka. He actually works as a security guard at New Monis Bakery and Restaurant. I took a bunch of selfies with him right before I got into the car but this photo says it all. If you don’t believe me, check this out:



kfc in sri lankaJharvis was just explaining how he was craving for “real food” when lo and behold, he spots a KFC. We immediately instruct the driver to turn around. He ordered the chicken strips with fries while I wanted to try something different and ordered the Chicken Spice Rice. Oh wow! How I wish we had this back home. It was a pretty good lunch. I could have had 2 servings. I had a virgin mojito to go with it and it was a pretty good balance of sweet, sour and spicy. YUM!







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2 Responses to “What to eat in Sri Lanka”

  1. This post made me miss Sri Lanka food! I love kotthu and hoppers!! 🙂