Good Dining Sri Lanka Style

Here are 12 foods you could try whilst in Sri Lanka

For fish ambul thiyal, a large firm fish, such as tuna, is cut into cubes before being sauteed in a blend of spices and dried goraka, a small fruit that gives the dish a sour flavor.

Sri Lanka is famous for making sumptuous use of local fruit, such as coconut and jackfruit, seafood and an utilising a wealth of spices.

Sri Lankan cooking delivers an abundance of incredible dishes.

Fish ambul thiyal (sour fish curry)
As you’d expect from an island in the Indian Ocean, seafood plays an important role in Sri Lankan cuisine. Fish ambul thiyal (sour fish curry) is one of the most beloved varieties of the many different fish curries available.
The fish — usually something large and firm, such as tuna — is cut into cubes, then sauteed in a blend of spices including black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, pandan leaves and curry leaves. Perhaps the most important ingredient is dried goraka, a small fruit responsible for giving the fish a sour flavor.
Ambul thiyal is a dry curry dish, meaning all the ingredients are simmered with a small amount of water and cooked until the liquid reduces. This allows the spice mixture to coat each cube of fish.
Originating in southern Sri Lanka, it’s available throughout the country at restaurants that serve curry, and is best eaten with rice.

Kottu (also, kottu roti)
Over the traffic and noise at a Sri Lankan market, you’ll likely hear the clanking of metal on metal and know kottu isn’t far away. Kottu is Sri Lanka’s hamburger — everybody’s favourite go-to fast food when craving something tasty and greasy.
It resembles fried rice, except instead of rice, it’s made with a type of roti known as godamba roti (a flat, crispy bread).
The roti is normally fried at the beginning of the day, piled into stacks and served as it’s ordered. When you place an order, the kottu chef will fry and chop the roti with a selection of ingredients you choose. The result is a tasty mixture of salty pieces of fried dough, lightly spiced and extremely comforting.
Kottu is served with spicy curry sauce, which you can either use as a dip or pour over your entire plate.
Some of the most skilled kottu chefs compose their own unique songs, singing while they rhythmically clank their spatula and knives against the metal frying surface, slicing the roti with each clank.

Kukul mas curry (chicken curry)
Simple to make, chicken curry is a common household dish in Sri Lanka. There are many variations depending on region and taste preferences.
Spices like fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon sticks are tempered in hot oil before being combined with chicken and spices like chilli powder, curry powder, turmeric, pandan leaves, lemongrass and curry leaves.
Coconut milk contributes to the rich base of the curry gravy. Depending on the recipe, a puree of tomato is often included.
The chicken is stewed for an hour or so until the essence of the spices is infused into the chicken. Most satisfying when served with hot rice and roti.

Parippu (dhal curry)
Parippu, or dhal curry, is the most common curry in all of Sri Lankan cuisine, a staple in any restaurant or household. Masoor dhal (split red lentils) are first rinsed and boiled until soft.
In a separate pan, a number of fresh ingredients, such as onions, tomatoes and fresh green chillies, are sauteed and mixed with tempered spices like cumin seeds, turmeric, fenugreek, mustard seeds and curry leaves.
All the ingredients are combined and usually thickened with a splash of fresh coconut milk to give the dhal a rich flavor and creamy texture.
It goes with everything, but is perfect as a dipping gravy for a fresh roti or paratha.

Sri Lanka has been influenced by a diversity of cultures and one of the most evident is the Dutch Burgher community.
Lamprais, a word that combines the two Dutch words for “lump” and “rice,” is a combination of meat, rice and sambol chilli sauce, wrapped into a banana leaf packet and steamed. The rice is cooked with meat stock — usually a combination of different meats like beef, pork or lamb — that’s infused with cardamom, clove and cinnamon.
A scoop of rice is placed in the centre of a banana leaf, along with the mixed meat curry, two frikkadels (Dutch-style beef balls), blachan (a shrimp paste) and a starch or vegetable, usually either ash plantain or brinjals.
The package is folded into a parcel and steamed. Since lamprais is a Burgher contribution to Sri Lankan cuisine, the meat is usually prepared with sweet spices like clove and cinnamon, recreating the flavor favoured by the Dutch Burgher community.
Original recipes called for beef, pork and lamb, but chicken and eggs are often included in a modern lamprais packet.

Hoppers (appa or appam)
Also, string hoppers (indi appa or idiyappam)
Hoppers are the Sri Lankan answer to the pancake. The batter is made from a slightly fermented concoction of rice flour, coconut milk, sometimes coconut water and a hint of sugar.
A ladle of batter is fried in a small wok and swirled around to even it out. Hoppers can be sweet or savoury, but one of the local favourites is egg hoppers. An egg is cracked into the bowl-shaped pancake, creating the Sri Lankan version of an “egg in the hole.”
Egg hoppers are garnished with lunu miris, a sambol of onions, chillies, lemon juice and salt.
Unlike the runny batter used for hoppers, string hoppers are made from a much thicker dough. The dough is squeezed through a string hopper maker, like a pasta press, to create thin strands of noodles, which are steamed.
String hoppers are normally eaten for breakfast or dinner with curries.

Polos (green jackfruit curry)
Jackfruit is consumed in a number of different stages of ripeness, from very ripe and sweet to green and starchy. Polos is a Sri Lankan curry prepared with young green jackfruit.
The fruit is sliced into bite-sized chunks and boiled until soft.
It’s then cooked with onions, garlic, ginger and spices like mustard seeds, turmeric, chilli powder, roasted curry powder, pandan leaves and curry leaf sprigs. The final step is to add coconut milk and simmer to reduce most of the liquid, leaving all the beautiful flavors within the cubes of jackfruit.
Jackfruit has a starchy texture, somewhat similar to cassava or potato. Polos is a standard dish available at most Sri Lankan curry restaurants.

Wambatu moju (eggplant/brinjals pickle)
Served mostly with rice and curries, wambatu moju is an extremely flavorful candied eggplant (brinjals) pickle.
The eggplant — usually the purple-skinned, long and slender variety — is cut into bite-sized wedges and deep fried, giving the eggplant a crispy texture with a soft and silky interior.
It’s then caramelised with a spoon of sugar, vinegar, red onions, green chillies, mustard seeds, chilli powder and a hint of turmeric powder until the colour turns almost black.
Take a bite and the soft and juicy texture of the eggplant should melt in your mouth — the slightly sweet, sour and salty contrast is absolutely sensational.

Gotu kola sambol (pennywort salad)
One of the most readily available green vegetable dishes in Sri Lanka is gotu kola sambol.
Gotu kola (known in English as Asiatic pennywort) is a medicinal herb in Asia. It’s shredded into slivers, then combined with shallots, tomatoes, fresh grated coconut and chilli and seasoned with a dressing of salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Sambol is a term used in Sri Lanka for ingredients that are combined and eaten raw, sometimes more of a chili sauce and sometimes more of a salad, like gotu kola sambol.
Gotu kola has a powerful, herbaceous flavor similar to kale, making it an extremely fresh and crisp dish. It’s typically a side dish served with curry and rice.

Kiribath with lunu miris (Milk Rice)
Kiribath is a special type of rice, cooked with thick coconut milk and often served during special or auspicious occasions, such as Sinhalese New Year.
There are a few versions of kiribath, but the basic procedure is to start by boiling a pot of rice.
Before the rice finishes cooking, add coconut milk and a pinch of salt. The coconut milk makes the rice creamy and rich and helps it form a sticky consistency. Once the rice is finished cooking, it’s cut into wedges and served like slices of cake.
Kiribath can be eaten along with a number of different Sri Lankan dishes, often either sweetened or consumed salty with chili sauce or curry. One of the most common ways to garnish kiribath is with lunu miris, a sambol chilli sauce made from red chillies, onions, lemon juice, salt and sometimes dry Maldive fish, all ground into a paste using a stone mortar and pestle.

Pol Sambol (coconut relish)
In a country in which the coconut is of supreme importance, there’s one Sri Lankan side dish that pays fitting tribute.
Pol sambol, which might also be called fresh coconut relish, is a simple blend of finely grated coconut, red onions, dried whole chillies or chilli powder, lime juice, salt and Maldive fish (if available). The ingredients are diced or ground, then combined in a bowl.
In Sri Lanka, pol sambol is used as a garnish or side dish for everything and anything.
It goes well with rice and curry, pol roti (coconut roti), a hot paratha, string hoppers or even just scooped up with slices of bread. If you love coconut, there’s no better garnish in the world.
Sri Lanka’s top tea experiences: Sips of history

Wood apple
It wouldn’t be a Sri Lankan food discussion without wood apple.
The wood apple is a Southeast Asian fruit about the size of a de-husked coconut. It also has just as hard of a shell, and a pungent, almost blue cheese aroma.
Walking through a market in Sri Lanka your nose will detect it long before your eyes do. Inside the shell is a dark brown paste that resembles something between tamarind pulp and fermented raisins.
Wood apple can be eaten directly out of the shell, but one of the most popular ways to eat (or drink) it throughout Sri Lanka is in a thick smoothie, known as wood apple juice.
The fruit is blended with sugar and water to smooth it out. It has a unique sour and sweet flavor. Mention that you love wood apple to any Sri Lankan you meet, and they probably won’t be able to hold back a knowing smile.

Be adventurous and enjoy!

Top Tips when planning Sri Lanka Tour Holiday Vacations

Sri Lanka is an awesome tropical island with steady temperatures generally remaining between 25°C and 35°C.

rainfall down south sri lanka

There are windy and rainy seasons one side of the island, whilst the other side tends to be less windy and drier.

You can choose your dates for the side of the island that you want to explore, alternatively, if you have fixed dates, choose the side of the island that has your desired weather.

Here are some top tips to enjoy your visit.

  • Seek our advice – it’s free
  • Select one of our preferred tour guides – you will see more for less!
  • Let us take the strain – we can supply a good driver to collect you at the airport – no stress after your flight
  • Be realistic in what you want to see in your time frame – there is o much to see on one beautifully diverse tropical island.
  • Get the right accommodation for your needs – AC is desirable in some months and not needed in others.
  • Travel light to enjoy the freedom of the island – or – we can escort you and your travel baggage at arm’s length.
  • Sample the local foods – not all are super spicy!
  • Bring a good camera and/or smartphone – but don’t flaunt it – be discrete
  • Do some research (through our websites)  and select what you want to see/experience.
  • Discover the cultural beliefs and ceremonies which are as diverse as the scenery on this lovely island.
  • Ask loads of questions – we love it!





Good Experiences in Sri Lanka

Good people having Good Experiences in Sri Lanka

Come and enjoy Good Experiences in Sri Lanka


Just some of the Tours and Good Experiences in Sri Lanka

For such a unique and beautiful country, Sri Lanka is fun-packed with opportunities for really special travel experiences, whether you’re a foodie, a culture vulture or a VIP Executive in search of some pampering on a welll deserved luxury break.

A trip to Sri Lanka is full of history, culture, and adrenaline-pumping adventure.

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry has been growing steadily with exciting outdoor adventures and outstanding 5 star hotels.

This is a cultural crossroads to experience

  • Muslim fishing villages
  • Buddhist temples and ceremonies
  • Tamel Tea Plantations
  • Christian Churches


Good Experiences in Sri Lanka
Good Experiences in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka offers beautiful beaches and gently rolling hills to relax and unwind.  Breath taking scenery varying with towering rock formations, jungle treks with abundant wildlife. Experience active adventure activities and wonderful watersports.

These are some of the most amazing adventure travel experiences to put on your to-do list for Sri Lanka.

Explore Bentota by bicycle, visiting the Virahaya Temple and Lunuganga House.

Ancient rock carvings deep in the dry jungle west of Wellawaya.

Spend a few hours exploring Colombo’s architecture, hidden gems and colonial history with local expert Mark Forbes.

Explore the rich history of Kandy, including the Royal Botanical Garden and Queen’s Hotel.

Learn to cook authentic Sri Lankan cuisine

Spend the early morning fishing in the rich waters around Sri Lanka’s southwest coast.

A round on one of the most scenic golf courses in Asia

Glide majestically above ruined cities, sail over undisturbed wildlife and hover as the sun rises through the morning mist on the horizon.

A family run high end working tea estate on the south coast of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s smallest national park, Lahugala is a great spot for watching Asian elephants in the wild and is just a skip from Arugum Bay.

Sri Lanka’s largest standing Buddha, hidden within the jungle of the lower hills.

A morning market visit and cooking class, followed by a guided walk of Galle Fort.

Get off-the-beaten track in style and delve deeper into the palm fringed Mekong delta to experience local life.

Just beside Sigiriya Rock Fortress lies another granite rock jutting out of the surrounding lowland, Pidarungula Rock.

Ancient monastic complex hidden away in the heart of elephant country.

Visit local farms and learn firsthand about the life and work of the villagers, enjoy a home-cooked lunch and visit the stunning Sigiriya rock fortress

Stunning scenery, culture and some of the world’s oldest rock paintings.

See the inner-workings of a tea factory and follow the process from plucking the bud to brewing a cup

Discover one of Sri Lanka’s longest standing cottage industries and try your hand at pottery making: Sri Lankan style.

One of Asia’s great train journeys, with spectacular views from start to finish

Spend the morning on the lookout for Moby Dick


1. See elephants in the wild

The area around Polonnaruwa is one of the best in which to spot Sri Lanka’s legendary elephants, with Minneriya being the best place to head for. The park is centred on an extensive tank where elephants congregate in increasingly large numbers towards the end of the dry season, particularly during the famous “Gathering” where up to 300 elephants converge on the retreating waters. Witness this incredible sight for yourself on Insight Guides’ Sri Lanka: Culture and Coast holiday.

2. Pay homage to the tooth

Time your visit to Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth right and you’ll be rewarded with a glimpse of the golden casket containing the Buddha’s Tooth Relic, at this most important of pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka. The day trip to Kandy on Insight Guides’ Perfectly Sri Lanka tour can be planned to coincide with one of these unmissable pujas (processions). Although, the temple tends to get absolutely overrun with tourists during the mid-morning and evening ceremonies (at 09.30 and 18.30); the early morning puja (at 05.30) is a lot quieter.

3. Sample egg hoppers

A Sri Lankan breakfast staple, also found at most street cafés, these delicate little bowl-shaped pancakes are great on their own, eaten with curry or cooked with an egg in the centre. Trust me, they are hard to track down outside of Sri Lanka, so indulge whenever you can here. Top tip: honey hoppers are a lesser-found, but delicious, version. Discover more of Sri Lanka’s best culinary experiences here.

4. Climb to the top of Sigiriya

Ascending this unforgettable rock-fortress, one of Sri Lanka’s most dramatic natural sights, gives you incredible views over the surrounding plains. Try to time your visit with a clear day. Tour the site’s pleasures gardens before taking on the 1,200 steps to ascend to the rock fortress on Insight Guides’ Sri Lanka: Culture and Coast trip. Alternatively, escape the crowds and watch the sunrise over Sigiriya on a hot air balloon ride on Insight Guides’ Wildlife Discovery holiday.

5. Hit the beach

Sri Lanka’s coast is fringed with sun-soaked golden beaches and luscious palm trees; if you’re short on time, head to Negombo, just half an hour from Colombo airport. Alternatively, plan your itinerary around Sri Lanka’s best beaches, or let us take you there on our Luxury Sri Lanka and the Maldives tour.

6. Catch a Kandyan dance show

Spectacularly costumed dancers perform acrobatic choreography to an insistent accompaniment of high-octane drumming. The most impressive of all the Kandyan dances is the ves. Performed solely by men, this is the pinnacle of the Kandyan dancer’s art, featuring limb-contorting feats of athleticism, back flips, high kicks and pirouettes combined with carefully stylised hand and feet movements. Shows usually end with fire-walking, so no leaving early! Insight Guides’ local experts can direct you to the best performances: submit a trip request today.

7. Visit a tea plantation

Travel past spectacular waterfalls, verdant hills lined with tea terraces and roadside fruit sellers to reach Sri Lanka’s working tea plantations, where you can have a brew and learn all about the process from plant to cup. Insight Guides’ Sri Lanka Deluxe holiday takes you to a working tea estate, where you can tour plantations and factories too.

8. Catch a cricket match

Join the crowds at a test or one-day match for an insight into Sri Lanka’s other major religion: cricket. Test matches are usually played at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo 7, at the Asigiriya Stadium in Kandy and at the cricket club in Galle. Tickets are easily available from the individual venues. Alternatively, add a cricket game (either watching or playing) to any of Insight Guides’ Sri Lanka trip itineraries with the help of our local experts.

9. Take in the view at Ella Gap

Don’t miss the staggering view from Ella Gap found in a charming hill country village, which takes in miles of peaks, valleys and – on a clear day – the southern plateau all the way to the coast. On an island that is full of unforgettable panoramic views, this is one of the finest. See it for yourself on Insight Guides’ Unforgettable Sri Lanka holiday.

10. Learn about Ayurveda

Sri Lanka’s ancient medicines are more popular than ever, whether in treating diseases or maintaining health and fitness. Ayurvedic wellness centres are found everywhere and even if you’re not looking for a specific cure, the natural science behind it is fascinating to discover. The aim of Ayurvedic treatments is to reestablish the three doshas in their correct balance, focusing on detoxification, rejuvenation, mental hygiene and spiritual healing. Oil massages, herbal remedies, and prescribed diets are the most common therapies in use.

11. Spot leopards

Tracking down this elusive big cat at Yala National Park is an experience even if you don’t manage a sighting, with elephants, wild boar and more to keep you diverted. Saving the best until last: Insight Guides’ Unforgettable Sri Lanka holiday will take you to Yala National Park and beyond.

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