Sri Lanka Eats
What did I eat in Sri Lanka, you ask? The question should really be, what didn’t I eat in Sri Lanka? When you order a curry dinner in Sri Lanka, you can expect a table full of tasty, spicy, savory and sweet dishes to appear in front of you:
We ate baked and fried snacks from bakeries while we traveled. Some of the best were flaky dough pockets filled with potato curry.
And for breakfast we tried hoppers, known in Tamil as appa. They are crisp and filled with whatever you desire:
Sri Lanka cuisine is a wonderful mix of different influences from India to the former colonial powers that passed through. Yet, this melange is unique and I enjoyed eating my way across the country. At the bottom of the post is a list of restaurants by city that we enjoyed.
One of the most delightful dining experiences during our trip was a stop at a busy juice shop. Lonely Planet listed a good juice place but there was nothing at the exact address, but a block down was place bustling with people, so we decided to give it a shot. We ordered mango juices and watched as a bucket was lowered from the second floor containing our juices. The mango juice was sweet with some salt mixed in. This place did brisk business, while we sat for 15 minutes the stools next to us changed occupants twice. It was a great place to watch people go by in the morning.
For lunch we stopped by the poorly named Muslim Hotel. Bad name, amazing food. We had some curried potatoes, fried balls of goodness and a roti (type of flat bread) dish where the roti was cut into strips and cooked with onions and tomatoes — it was a bit sweet and very tasty.
For dinner we had curry feast. Usually, when ordering a curry dinner you decide whether you want a meat or fish and then pick options from whatever sides they’ve made that day. It’s a great cuisine if you are vegetarian.
I really enjoyed the lentil and eggplant dishes as well as the coconut sambol, which is more of a topping and is made from grated coconut and chilies and flavored with some dried fish or lime or both.
I like trying the local brew wherever I travel, but getting booze in Sri Lanka ended up being a bit of a challenge. Alcohol is only sold in specific kiosks or in the case of the grocery store we visited, outside and behind the store (and bars don’t open until later in the evening). It felt like we were doing something illegal (note the bars). We joined the line of only men and got quite a few looks.
We successfully acquired some local beer. Then we weren’t sure if we could drink it in the nice sitting area infront of our guest house or not, so we snuck out onto the balcony near our room to clandestinely try the very malty Three Coins. Later that night the owner of our guest house offered us beer over dinner…
When taking the train in Sri Lanka, expect to see lots of snacks for sale:
The best curry dinner of the whole trip was in Ella. There was no meat or fish, but the abundance of vegetables made up for this. The garlic dish was delicious and it was also the first time I tried bitter gourd and liked the way it tasted. And the curried okra, I’ve already recreated it in my kitchen.
Coastal Route: Tangalla to Galle
Throughout our trip we sipped on delicious ginger beer soda, a good remnant from the British era. And the fresh grilled fish was an added bonus.
The British legacy greets you every morning as well with delicious milky and sugar-heavy tea. The view here wasn’t too bad either:
We tried wattalapan for dessert which was a bizarre pudding with an odd texture. Not really my kind of dessert:
Sweet breakfast hoppers with bananas are more my taste:
An all around dish, from dinner dessert to breakfast side, is curd. It’s like a thick yogurt that is delicious when drizzled with honey.
We took a stroll around the Galle fish market:
And then some men offered to show us a shark jaw which happened to be in their spice shop. Scam? Sort of. But, I use the curry powder I bought on potatoes and it’s wonderful.
The one thing we decided to splurge on during our trip was a high tea at the beautiful Amangalla Hotel in Galle (when I earn my millions I might consider splurging on a $500 a night room…or not). The high tea at $15 a person was worth it and much more affordable.
It was also the first time in over 14 months I had seen clotted cream and scones. It was heaven. It’s only when you leave home and can’t have the things you want on a regular basis that they become so much better when you do.
Bon appetit to all!