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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!

Where to Eat:
-Kandy Muslim Hotel located on Dalada Vidiya
-Old Empire Hotel located at 21 Temple Street
-Somewhere on Yatinuwara Vidiya, closer to the Lake and near a church, you’ll find the bucket juice joint.
-Curd Shop on Main Street
-Rawana Holiday Resort has an amazing curry spread, get a bajaj driver to take you.
-Serendipity Arts Cafe at 100 Pedlar Street
-Mama’s Galle Fort Cafe at 76 Leyn Baan Street
-Amangalla Hotel at Middle and Church Streets

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Fantastic! Lydia, you have no idea how jealous I am of your Sri Lankan experience and all the wonderful food that you ate. Curry is my most favourite food in the world and if I lived in India I could quite easily be vegetarian. I’m so glad you can’t see me typing this comment, I’m actually starting to drool!

    November 10, 2012
    • Thanks for the nice words. Makes me feel less guilty about always making friends wait, so I can take a photo, before we eat!

      November 10, 2012
  2. All the food looks amazing and it sounds like you had a wonderful time, which is the main thing.

    November 10, 2012
    • Thanks for reading. I had a great time and hopefully some day I’ll return to Sri Lanka.

      November 10, 2012
  3. feckthisshit #

    That food looks amazing!!!

    November 10, 2012
  4. Oh my gosh, this all looks amazing!

    November 12, 2012
  5. Lydia — it’s 11 p.m. for me, but I’m ready for some Sri Lankan food after reading your post. It all looks so delicious! I just saw an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” during which he traveled and ate his way around Sri Lanka. The country is definitely on my must see list! Thanks for sharing and thank you for stopping by and following Travel Oops! Steph

    November 13, 2012
    • I didn’t know he did an episode in Sri Lanka! I will keep an eye out for it. Thanks for stopping by, look forward to following your blog as well.

      November 13, 2012
  6. Hi Lydia, Sri Lanka.. it’s been on my wish list, at least for travel – and now for food too!! Happy & safe travels. Thanks for dropping by my blog ;)

    November 14, 2012
    • Thanks for stopping by. Looking forward to reading your blog. Hope you make it to Sri Lanka some day soon!

      November 15, 2012

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