Spice Island: 6 Foods You Must Try On A Trip To Sri Lanka
Bold, fresh flavours abound.
Once you try the bold, fresh flavours of Sri Lankan cuisine, it’s safe to say you’ll be hooked.
Here are six foods you must try while visiting the jewel of the Indian Ocean.
#1 Egg Hoppers
These bowl-shaped pancakes made from fermented rice flour and coconut milk are a staple in Sri Lanka. A perfectly cooked egg hopper is crispy around the edges and thicker at the base with an oozy egg yolk in the centre.
It may look deceptively simple, but cooking egg hoppers requires real finesse. The sides of the hopper pan must be quickly and evenly coated with the batter, before a fresh egg is cracked in the centre and the lid is briefly placed on for steaming. It’s usually topped with a classic Sri Lankan sambal of coconut, chilli, salt, red onion and lime.
#2 Rice And Curry
Its simple names belies the bountiful offering you receive each time you order rice and curry in Sri Lanka, where it’s not uncommon up to 15 accompaniments to arrive with your heaped plate of steamed rice. In the lucky dip, you’ll likely to receive several punchy curries flavoured with cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, mustard seeds, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, pandan, curry leaves and coconut milk.
Some of the best curries you’ll come across in Sri Lanka include the traditional sour fish curry, chicken curry and pumpkin curry served with dahl, vegetables, pickles, sambals and poppadums.
#3 Wambatu Moju
Wambatu Moju, a dish of pickled eggplants, delights all your tastebuds at once with its spicy, tangy, bitter and sweet flavours. Wambatu Moju is made by frying bite-sized pieces of eggplant before caramelising them with sugar, vinegar, red onions, green chilies, mustard seeds, chili powder, salt and turmeric. It’s often just served with rice or a selection of curries.
#4 Kottu Roti
To find Kottu Roti, listen out for the rhythmic clanking of metal on metal, a sound synonymous with the classic dish of chopped roti fried with vegetables, meat and spices. It’s a filling and scrumptious meal that can be picked up from street vendors for as little as a dollar a pop.
#5 Curd And Treacle
Fresh buffalo curd drizzled palm treacle and served in a clay pot is one of the simple but sublime delights of Sri Lankan cuisine. You’ll find it served as a snack or dessert. The higher fat content of buffalo milk gives the curd beautiful thick, rich, creamy texture similar to that of Greek Yoghurt. It marries perfectly with a generous dollop of pure treacle made from the sap of the Kithul palm.
Watalappam, a famous spiced Sri Lankan custard pudding, is one of the most delicious desserts on the island. The silky textured sweet is made by dissolving jaggery (coarse, dark sugar made from the sap of palm trees) into water before mixing in coconut milk, cardamom, mace, cloves, rosewater, cream and eggs. The creamy, aromatic mixture is set in ramekins and topped with cashews.
Just try stopping after the first one!
(Lead image: Aditya Siva)